ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill -- A group of approximately 75 Army Contracting Command-Rock Island supervisors, interns and recent hires gathered in Heritage Hall to hear a presentation by Michael Hutchison, deputy to the commander, Army Sustainment Command, Sep. 10.

Following an introduction by Jay Carr, executive director, ACC-RI, Hutchison, outlined his noteworthy history in defense acquisition by providing a re-cap of his career progression, beginning as a DA intern 30 years ago through his current position as a Tier 2 SES. Hutchison also opened the floor to a nearly hour-long question-and-answer session.

"I can tell you there's probably no one else in the Army that has the same experience in starting as an intern and working their way up to a Tier II SES, "said Carr. "From his perspective, he's been in your position before. He's probably one of the most respected contracting professionals in the Army right now."

Integrity, patience, honesty are crucial character traits for employees looking to thrive in their careers, said Hutchison, and those who seek and embrace new experiences, think independently and listen to others will have a smoother, more satisfying career advancement path.

"The one thing I heard as an intern that was true then and it is true now is your reputation proceeds you," said Hutchison. "As an intern and as an employee, you will develop a reputation -- good or bad -- and people will know you by reputation if they know nothing else. You want to have a reputation as a worker, a 'do-er', a producer. You want to be the first or second pick, the ones [supervisors] are fighting over."

Hutchison said when he started working for the government, his benchmark for success was at the GS-13 level, as his father retired as a GS-13 contracting officer. Reaching the SES-level was unexpected, but the years of experience taught him the importance of not only building a solid base of technical expertise, but cultivating an authentic personal and professional relationships.

"The one thing that you have that once you lose it, you'll never get it back is your integrity. I would tell you to guard your integrity jealously, like your life depends on it, because what you want to go is be someone who can be relied upon. Once you lose that sense of integrity, that sense of trust, you will never get it back."