By Kari Hawkins, USAG RedstoneMay 19, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--When it comes to staffing an organization and developing employees, Joey Skinner knows how to get the job done.
And with 20 years of Garrison career experience to his credit, Skinner is well-positioned to know what it takes to achieve success both for an organization and its employees.
So it wasn't surprising to those who know Skinner and his work as the deputy director of the Garrison's Directorate of Public Works when he was named the Career Program-18 Activity Career Program Manager of the Year by the Installation Management Command. Career Program 18 refers to construction-related engineers and scientists.
"It's a huge honor to be selected," Skinner said. "You compete against many other career program managers out there. There are some real exceptional CP-18 program career managers that oversee programs much larger than the one I oversee."
Career Program-18 is one of the best organized career programs in the Army. It includes construction-related engineers and scientists who work for the Corps of Engineers and garrisons across the Army. Skinner, a civil engineer, began working for the Army at Redstone as a co-op student from the University of Alabama-Huntsville in 1991, and began working for Public Works as an Army intern in 1995, the same year he became a member of Career Program-18. About 10 years ago, he became a career program manager, which means he serves as a mentor for other Career Program-18 employees working at the Garrison.
"An activity career program manager's responsibility is to stay up-to-date on all the latest training and opportunities to enhance an individual's career within that career program," Skinner said. "We assist with career goals, kinds of training available and future aspirations. Part of my job is to counsel and help guide them in developing their career goals."
Mentoring is where Skinner excels as a manager and, besides working with Career Program-18 employees who have ongoing careers with the directorate, he spends countless hours recruiting, developing and mentoring young employees. In nominating him for the Career Program-18 award, Skinner's boss, Public Works director Joe Davis noted Skinner's leadership in energizing the directorate's Workforce Revitalization Initiative by recruiting, retaining, rewarding and mentoring students, co-op employees and interns.
"He leads the way when it comes to helping young employees become strong educated leaders of tomorrow," Davis said in the nomination. "He is second to none in this endeavor. He does this for the betterment of the organization and the growth of the intern. His dedication to the program and the interns is one of being a selfless servant, always working for the betterment of others and not for personal gain."
The Workforce Revitalization Initiative consists of a four-prong approach: creating close relationships with local high schools, community colleges and universities; employing highly recommended students as temporary intern students; converting those students with the best attitude, work ethic and skill sets to cooperative education positions; and transitioning those cooperative students that will provide the greatest value to the directorate to intern positions upon graduation.
Students hired through the initiative are rotated through Public Works positions in engineering (design), construction, environmental, base operations (maintenance and infrastructure operations) and master planning (site selection and development). Once the 12-month initiative is complete, the student interns hired on a permanent basis are allowed to choose which area they would like to pursue as a co-op student.
"We develop an individual development plan for interns within their first 30 days," Skinner said. "That plan consists of rotations through DPW, and formal training both on-the-job and online.
"They are slated to go into full performance positions within Public Works. Over 10 percent of our DPW work force are interns or have been interns. We fought to have a robust program with interns because we are up against an aging work force. Thirty-two percent of DPW employees are eligible for retirement."
Now, as all intern programs phase out of the Army, Public Works will look toward its co-op student program to continue to introduce young employees to the organization.
"Our interns and students are high quality individuals that we recruit. They are super stars," Skinner said. "We have created a student work force that allows us to look at a pool of students going into all kinds of career fields, and that allows us to try individuals on the job up front and lower our risk of getting an individual that is not high quality."
Skinner is committed to employee recruiting and development, and his door is always open to employees both within Public Works and throughout the Garrison who need career guidance and mentoring. But he is mainly focused on those Garrison employees who are aligned with Career Program-18.
"I'm the conduit for information related to training, development assessments and opportunities for those in Career Program-18. I make sure information is disseminated to the Career Program-18 employees that we have here," he said.
He provides information about Career Program-18 workshops, courses offered through the Installation Management Command's Directorate of Public Works Academy and courses offered outside the Army that pertain to the work of the Garrison's construction-related employees.
"When there are certain courses out there that we feel will be of benefit to the organization for the individual to take, then we will consider paying for that course for them," Skinner said.
Skinner himself has been the recipient of employee development programs. He is the first IMCOM employee and the first Garrison employee to graduate from the Career Program-18 leadership development program. The three-year program includes a six-month development assignment to the Corps of Engineers headquarters in Washington, D.C., where Skinner rotated through several primary corps organizations.
Skinner said his effectiveness as a manager has been improved through formal training, and yearly Career Program-18 workshops.
"If you want to be a supervisor or manager in the construction field, the leadership development course is the one to take," Skinner said. "The Career Program-18 workshops and other development types of training are also beneficial. It's really good for our Garrison to have employees that have this kind of training. I'm the kind of person that when I get passionate about something I get vocal about it. I like to ask a lot of questions to try to figure out how to get things done, and the best ways to recruit and fill positions."
Skinner is also only the second IMCOM career program manager to win the Army-level award. Career Program-18 is traditionally a Corps of Engineers-oriented career program, with only about 20 percent of its members working for Army garrisons.
Though it's Skinner's name on the career program manager award, he said the award is a reflection of the professionalism and standard of excellence of the Directorate of Public Works.
"I am well-blessed in many ways," he said. "And one of the biggest ways I'm blessed is my bosses and my managers. Mr. Davis, Mr. (Curtis) Clark (Garrison deputy commander), and Col. (John) Hamilton (Garrison commander) have provided me with full support. If I've got a good idea, they let me run with those good ideas that will be an enhancement to the organization and they let me implement them."
In addition, Skinner said "the folks that work in our organization are outstanding. We have exceptional employees who do exceptional work day in and day out. They have the desire to better themselves and this organization. That makes my job easy."
Those employees remain committed despite working under enormous demands. The Arsenal has grown by about 6,000 employees since the announcement of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act, increasing the workday population to about 36,000 employees. The Directorate of Public Works is responsible for overseeing building construction and maintenance in support of that work force.
Since 2005, the Directorate of Public Works has been involved in new building construction programs for the Army Materiel Command, Missile Defense Agency, Redstone Test Center, 2nd Recruiting Brigade and many other organizations. In addition, Public Works is involved in upgrades for various organizations, including the Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation, Fox Army Health Center and the Garrison's Gate 1 Visitor Center.
Skinner, like other leaders within the Garrison, hopes that challenging work within Public Works will remain a career attraction for the interns and co-op students who are new to the organization.
"In DPW, it's something new every day," Skinner said. "A large portion of what an engineer does is primarily problem solving. It seems we are doing that day in and day out. The Garrison's DPW manages a huge variety of different projects and works with a variety of customers that do so many things to support the security of our nation. Where else can you do that kind of work'"