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News | May 21, 2018

Mentoring program helps employee succeed in her career

By Tonya Johnson DCMA Public Affairs

Christina Biggs has learned a lot from her mentor, Vivian Hill.

Biggs, a computer engineer at Defense Contract Management Agency Lockheed Martin Denver in Colorado, said Hill, who is the deputy director at DCMA Atlanta, has helped her set short- and long-term career goals.

“Ms. Hill has assisted me in breaking down my goals into manageable and achievable steps,” said Biggs.

Biggs said her mentoring relationship with Hill has been a rewarding experience, both professionally and personally. She has been mentored by Hill for a year under the pilot initiative for the DCMA formal mentoring program. 

Biggs and Hill were two of the 50 individuals matched via the program’s algorithm, which paired mentors and protégés throughout the agency. Evaluations of the program were positive and an additional pilot cohort is planned for later this year. 

“Our goal is to expand the program so that it is available to the entire DCMA workforce,” said George P. Braxton, DCMA’s special advisor for diversity and inclusion who also coordinates the agency’s mentoring initiatives. “We are still in the information gathering mode and are looking to build a program that would be the envy of the Department of Defense.”

Biggs said having Hill as a mentor has helped her with a work and life balance. 

“I believe mentoring provides a professional, but relaxed atmosphere, where you can seek advice, ask questions, or just talk,” said Biggs. “Ms. Hill and I hit upon mentorship goals, such as applying to the Acquisition Exchange Program, yet seemed to end our meetings discussing travels, family or the news. Her achievements at work as well as giving back to the community are inspiring and have been a reminder for me to establish goals outside of the office.”

Hill said she wanted to give back to help others at DCMA.

“I have benefitted from formal and informal mentorship relationships throughout my 35 years with the agency,” she said. “I believe in the philosophy of mentoring as a method to communicate and train the workforce to understand and embrace the culture of an organization.”

Hill encouraged more employees to seek mentors. She said many senior leaders in the agency have benefited from mentoring during their federal career. Hill added that mentoring is a rewarding experience and allows current leaders to share wisdom and lessons learned with future DCMA leaders.

“Mentoring provides a great communication avenue for those seeking career advice,” said Hill. “Mentoring also provides a means to motivate, encourage, model the way and support the organization.”

Hill has mentored quite a few DCMA employees during her federal career. She shared the following advice for mentors and protégés: 

• Participating in a mentoring program is important. Every leadership program and intern program should consider having a mentoring component.

• Both parties need to know that mentoring works, but employees only get out of the program what they put into it.

• Be realistic when setting a mentoring action plan and goals — look for the quick wins and celebrate them.

• Be respectful of each other’s time and scheduling conflicts. All engagements do not need to be face-to-face. Some engagements can be short telephone conversations to track the status of an assignment or action the protégé has agreed to work on.

• An employee, whether mentor or protégé, should follow up and follow through on the task assigned. 

For more information about the agency’s mentoring opportunities, visit (CAC login required).