From left, DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center's Amber Robinson Green, Waylon Young and Amber Holeman talk about their mentoring experience for January's Mentorship Month.
From left, DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center's Amber Robinson Green, Waylon Young and Amber Holeman talk about their mentoring experience for January's Mentorship Month. (Photo Credit: Katie Davis Skelley) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Jan. 5, 2024) – When one thinks of mentorships, it is often a formal process with a set agenda and time requirements. But it does not have to be.

When DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center’s Amber Robinson Green returned from a year-long rotation at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, much had changed back at the office. Which wasn’t a surprise in an organization with as diverse a mission set as AvMC. But where many would be leery of change, Green, deputy chief of the Acquisition Division, saw a mentorship opportunity with contracting officer representatives Amber Holeman and Waylon Young, who had taken on managing the Center’s UARC contract with Georgia Tech Research Institute as well as the Center’s facility services contract and upcoming contract between the Center and several local Alabama universities.

“We lost some of our personnel and resources, but we lost none of the work,” Green said. “Coming back to AvMC, I wanted to lend some background and experience to help them become more comfortable with the requirements and what they were working on, versus throwing them to the wolves, per se.”

A University Affiliated Research Centers, or UARC, is a “think tank” of sorts, and serves the mission of ensuring that essential engineering and technology capabilities of particular importance to the Department of Defense are maintained by providing subject matter expertise to specific programs and initiatives.

When Division Chief Josh Smothers asked Young to take on the new contracting job duties, Young joked, “I should have asked more questions,” but all kidding aside, said that with Green’s assistance, learning this new role – a process that can be often quite stressful – became a positive experience that expanded his skills. And it has prompted him to think about how he can pay it forward and mentor others.

“I've been fortunate enough to be around people who have introduced me to other people that helped me do my job,” he said. “It would be a disservice for me to not want to do it and it's a disservice to others who would like to expand their horizons, so to speak.”

Much has been written of workers who changed jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent telework posture. Holeman was one such employee who not only had to learn a new job, but do so remotely. She said that having Green volunteer to mentor her through the process has made all the difference.

“I never had the in-the-office experience,” Holeman said. “As somebody who's very, very green, there are no words to say how much I appreciate Amber for taking the time. I'm somebody who - and Waylon and Amber can both attest to this - I ask a lot of questions. I want to fully understand what I'm working on and what is expected of me. Amber has been so great and so patient to answer my questions - to listen to me, to understand my concerns, make things make sense and to give me a better understanding of contracting as a whole.”

What makes the partnership so impressive is that it grew organically. For Green, it was a natural process to champion her coworkers in their jobs, especially “rock stars” like Holeman and Young, she said – for when one person wins, the team wins and the mission is stronger for it.

“It's rewarding for me to be able to pay it back,” she said.  “I had great mentors and still have great mentors in my career, and it's so rewarding to pay it back and to share that knowledge with others I have always enjoyed working with - forming those relationships and those connection and seeing the growth with progress.”

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The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.