SAN ANTONIO, Texas - A recent arrival at Installation Management Command headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, is a good example of how the IMCOM Fellows Program is a win-win situation for both the organization and the employee.

Phoenix, Ariz., native John Sholes will graduate in early 2011 from the program through which he has earned an advanced degree for himself and improved processes and saved money for the Army.

The IMCOM Fellows Program is a four-year program designed to develop future Army civilian leaders. Fellows spend their first 13 months in school in Texarkana, Texas, taking courses at the Army Materiel Command's Logistics Leadership Center and Texas A&M University.

After earning a master's degree in business, IMCOM Fellows begin a 35-month series of assignments to gain experience in primary and secondary career fields.

Sholes' first assignment took him to Fort Hood's Directorate of Information Management. For one of his projects he had to resolve billing issues involving more than 2,300 phone numbers, five account types and 11 major units. In the process Sholes identified more than 400 numbers the vendor was incorrectly billing to the installation, saving the Army about $16,000 a month.

Sholes remained at Fort Hood for his second assignment, but moved to III Corps Headquarters' Directorate of Contracting. He earned several awards, including the directorate's Mission Award, for improvements to contracting processes providing training for soldiers and civilian employees.

Sholes is particularly proud that he was able to shorten the time to put in place the contract for suicide prevention training.

"This was a more complicated contract, involving live actors performing role-playing skits and including audience interaction," Sholes said. "But given the priority for this program, I was really glad we could do our part in making it available to people sooner."

The Fellows' final rotations are stretch assignments, designed to give them experience in a more challenging environment. For his stretch assignment, Sholes joined IMCOM Headquarters' Office of Strategic Communication in March 2010.

Among his projects, Sholes worked on strategic messaging for Base Realignment and Closure brochures for 24 major affected locations and oversaw the distribution of more than 140,000 copies to Congressional liaisons, Army staff members, senior commanders and garrison commanders.

"It was eye-opening, to experience the process of getting out accurate, consistent, positive information across Army, Department of Defense and legislative levels," Sholes said.

Though Sholes had no previous experience in strategic communications, he has been a great asset to the team, according to his current chief, Kathy Aydt.

"He has brought a lot of energy and commitment to his work on a number of important issues for IMCOM, such as the Campaign Plan roll-out conference, San Antonio Headquarters groundbreaking ceremony, and BRAC" Aydt said. "Without a doubt, employee development programs are an excellent investment. The Fellowship Program has been a win-win for both the organization and the employee."

Sholes learned about the program at a campus job fair as he neared graduation from DeVry University in Arizona in 2006.

"It seemed like an excellent opportunity at the time, and these last four years have more than met my expectations," Sholes said.

"I have witnessed some outstanding examples of leadership throughout the fellowship, and met a number of great people I've been able to learn from. With that and the wide variety of work experiences, I feel I've been equipped to succeed in nearly any future position with the Army."

More information about the IMCOM Fellows Program is available at Application procedures and program timelines are changing, so potential applicants should check with program manager Angela Richardson at 703-602-5487 or for further details.