By Debra ValineDecember 31, 2018
The Department of Defense recently announced its selections for the 2020 Executive Leadership Development Program cohort. A Security Assistance Command country program manager is one of 10 Army employees chosen.
Ryan Nichols, a USASAC employee since February 2015, made the list and will join his classmates when the 10-month course kicks off in September.
Nichols said he had been looking for new training opportunities, so when the email came from the Enterprise Talent Management, he decided to submit an application.
He said he took the CES Advanced Course in 2016 and while there delved into the ELDP.
"There are not a lot of formal leadership training courses available for civilians," Nichols said. "I think it's a good opportunity for professional development."
The ELDP offers more than 60 individuals, all top mid-career active duty and civilian leaders from across DOD, the opportunity to study leadership and the warfighter mission.
"I was interested in the Command and General Staff College, but it's not a good time for my family right now," Nichols said. "CGSC requires a PCS/TDY for nine months to attend the school and a five-year mobility agreement."
The ELDP requires a one-year service obligation upon completion.
That's not a problem, Nichols said. "I don't have plans to retire anytime soon."
The application process for ELDP is lengthy - for Nichols it was seven months from start to finish.
"It's actually pretty long," said Nichols, who started the application in April. "I had to submit a packet that has everything from transcripts, evaluation and resume. Then I had to complete a writing portion on my thoughts about team building, accountability, decisiveness, and influencing or negotiating.
"I also had to get the SES (Senior Executive Service, USASAC's Robert L. Moore, deputy to the commanding general) to sign a memo that says they understand I'll be out of the office attending training for 80 days over 10 months," Nichols said. "It takes a lot of time to put all that together. This was actually my second attempt. I learned about how long it takes to build the packet from the first attempt."
USASAC leaderships' support of the program is in line with the USASAC Commanding General's, Maj. Gen. Jeff Drushal's, strategic plan that includes a line of effort focused on professionals and leaders. Drushal emphasizes leader development as a way to achieve a trained and vested workforce.
"USASAC is very proud of Ryan and the great work he's done for the team," said Col. Mike Morton, director of EUCOM/AFRICOM Regional Operations. "It comes as no surprise to me or anyone that knows Ryan that he was selected for this prestigious education opportunity. Ryan is already a great team leader and with the skills that he will learn with the Executive Leadership Development Program, I have no doubt that he will soon be a fantastic leader within the AMC Security Assistance Enterprise."
Nichols said he didn't hear anything about his application until November when he was informed he had an interview in two weeks. After the telephone interview, it was another month before DOD announced the selections.
"I'm looking forward to the learning, self-development and building of new relationships," said Nichols, who said he believes any training opportunities are worth taking for professional development."
Nichols said being an Army civilian and never in the military, the training will offer him an opportunity to experience what it's like for service members.
"I hope the ELDP will help prepare me for what lies in the future. I hope it will show me different perspectives that will facilitate my job and allow me to do my job better on a daily basis."