CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea - The U.S. Army Corps for of Engineers Leadership Development Program (ULDP) Level II, is a district level competitively selected, cohort-based leader development program targeted at emerging leaders at the GS-12 level and below. The cohort consists of approximately six employees and the program lasts for 19 months, with Defense Acquisition University instruction and Far East District (FED) ULDP committee oversight.

The format of the course includes experiential team activities, classroom instruction and discussion, guest speakers, self-assessment tools, reading, journaling and mentorship activities. There are three main learning outcomes of ULDP. One of the outcomes is a demonstrated ability to perform a team project that requires leveraging interpersonal skills, individual strengths, and effective team strategies.

The result of this outcome is now on display after a ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the district headquarters, Oct. 8, to commemorate the presentation of the 2017/2018 class' capstone project. The goal of the group's capstone project was to bring FED together after the district relocated to Camp Humphreys last year and to provide a sense of community as well as offer a practical solution for meeting spaces for customers and visiting guests. Although the cohort's capstone was complete in 2018, a few of the team members actually made a plan to incorporate the project.

A photo contest to hang pictures was recommended to the corporate board, open to all FED employees and their family members, capturing the area around Pyeongtaek and South Korea. The pictures are focused on nature and the elements, bodies of water, fields, trees, mountains, palaces, and skylines, and to also be used as way finders for employees and guests as they first come to the building. The seating areas are to be used as work space or break space for small groups, individuals, and teams and as an ideal place to meet stakeholders during their visits. The team was well positioned with experts from contracting, architecture, and small contract purchasing and they poured their hearts into making this space happen.

Brady Hales, a contracting division chief, was a member of that 2017/2018 cohort. Hales shared his thoughts on the program and the reason he decided to apply for ULDP.

"When it came time for applying I was somewhat new in the district, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to get to know people in other divisions, some of the senior leadership and the corporate board that we'd be working with," said Hales.

Hales went on to state that the curriculum was another variable that drew him to the program. He felt like it would be value added to his career. He was also interested in learning the leadership philosophies of the Corps of Engineers, and what makes a good leader in the Army.

The program affords the participants a chance to speak with and learn from various leaders who serve in several different capacities.

"They would bring some of the leaders here and provide us an hour to pick their brains, and to see the difference between them," said Hales. "There were lots of different qualities, some were similar and some were very different. But asking them [the leaders] questions that you always wanted to ask a leader was a great opportunity."

Hales stated that he went into the program thinking he understood what makes a great leader based on outward traits, however, after the program he understands that it's more than just what's presented.

"The program forced me to look inward and discover who I am and what I need to do in order to be a good leader," said Hales. "Also I have a good library of books that were the curriculum, so I can always refer back to them."

He went on to state that he built great relationships during the program, and having Jennifer Moore, Air Force Program Branch Chief, and Richard Byrd, deputy district engineer, as a resource and being able to rely on them as mentors and leaders, was invaluable.

Learning that leadership is not monolithic has made Hales more self-aware and he now has more tools than he had before to empower his subordinates.

"It was more reflective of me, who I am and discovering my leadership style," said Hales. "A good leader motivates his employees, listens to his employees, and removes barriers that hinder them from doing their job."

The district is currently accepting applications for the 2020/ 2021 cohort from Oct.15 until Nov.29. The program is looking to add a Korean cultural/history trip to its curriculum. The application can be found on the district's sharepoint portal.