ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. —Nine civilians from the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command graduated from the Civilian Education System Advanced Course at the Mallette Training Facility Sept. 22, 2023.
The month-long course was offered at APG and was taught by eight instructors from the Army Management Staff College based out of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The CES Advanced Course prepares upper-grade Army Civilian leaders, GS 13-15, to assume increasing levels of organizational responsibility and leadership.
CES Advanced Course students learn about national security and defense strategies, managing organizational resources, leading change, inspiring vision, directing program management, and integrating Army systems.
While in the CES Advanced Course, participants complete group projects and meet with a mentor from the Senior Executive Service. In total, 54 civilians from APG tenant organizations completed the course.
CES Advanced Course instructor Ross Brown said students learned about the Army Design Methodology process, which provides an approach to dealing with unfamiliar and complex problems. He added that the course gets students to think about how comfortable they are with ambiguity.
“It brings them up to a level where they can support strategic leaders,” he said.
APG Command Representative Francis King, chief counsel for CECOM/Army Materiel Command Legal Center-APG, congratulated the graduates for their perseverance and thanked APG senior leaders for giving employees time to hone their leadership skills. He also expressed appreciation to the graduates’ families and the CES instructors who made the course more accessible by offering it at APG.
“We greatly appreciate it; we greatly respect your commitment to our collective success for this course,” he said.
King said the graduates now have better tools, enabling them to be more effective leaders.
“It excites me to know as a senior leader in the Army that we are growing leaders just like you,” he said.
He challenged the graduates to take back what they learned to their workplace. To take care of the Army’s most value asset: people.
“Lead from the front and step forward so others follow you,” he said. “Set the example of what right looks like and inject accountability. Accountability is a two-way street; it is your personal accountability as a leader and the accountability of those around you.”
Deputy Joint Program Executive Officer for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense Nicole Kilgore served as the guest speaker. Kilgore was an SES mentor during the last week of the course and provided feedback during one-on-ones and in classes.
“Make sure you take the time to find the space in between to get to know your people, to get to know your staff, because it is really the organization, the workforce, that will make our mission successful,” she said.
Kilgore said active listening, emotional intelligence, and flexibility, often called “soft skills,” are critical at all levels.
“Effective communication is the foundation of the success of the mission,” she said. “And serving those that protect our nation. It is everyone’s responsibility.”
King, Kilgore and Jerome Hawkins, director of the Department of Enterprise Leadership, Army Management Staff College handed out certificates to all participants.
Graduate Michael Fusco, the chief of CECOM's Office of Acquisition Support, said he appreciated having the CES Advanced Course offered at APG because attending the month-long course with his family responsibilities would be difficult for him. He thought the group work was the most valuable.
“It was great for building networks and getting to know different people,” he said.
CECOM Inspector General Renee Baldwin, and new CES Advanced Course graduate, showed gratitude to her team, who ran her office in her absence without “missing a beat,” so she could concentrate on the coursework.
“The mission continued; everyone stepped up and did their part,” she said. “I figured they would, but it is so nice to reflect on it and to see it in action. That was really kind of an a-ha moment for me.”
Baldwin said part of the course is completing personal assessments to learn more about their leadership style. According to Baldwin, the course highlighted that she “leads with love.”
“Some may see it as a weakness, but I realized I am okay with that title and what that represents,” she said.
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