News | Nov. 1, 2018

Hands-on training connects countries

By DCMA International

The Defense Contract Management Agency International Europe contracts group knows that training plays an important role when it comes to ensuring efficient operations in support of the warfighter. Despite the geographical and cultural divisions that these international employees face, they still make training happen and recently held their third annual contracts connections event. They used this opportunity of face-to-face interaction for additional group-specific activities.

Team members traveled from Israel, United Kingdom and Germany to take part in this occasion.

The group focused on the agency’s business system modernization by discussing the latest capabilities model the organization is optimizing toward. According to Army Maj. Manuel Prado, DCMA Europe contracts group deputy, they discussed high value and high risk initiatives, a new pricing management capability and other areas focused on mission success. They also held demonstrations and promotion recognitions.

“I traveled from our United Kingdom office and I can't say enough about the benefits of face-to-face training,” said Emily Francis, an administrative contracting officer. “It's difficult to pick up facial expressions or vocal intonations in a teleconference, you often don't know who is speaking in a large group, which results in the lack of an organic discussion when you're dealing with video distortion or sound delay.

“It makes such a huge difference to meet your teammates in person, to get to know them, and build working relationships that will be able to span any geographic distances in the future. Face-to-face training really does improve team efficiency and cohesiveness over the long and short-run.”

In addition to classroom sessions, participants traveled to a local U.S. Army aviation unit to observe a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter demonstration.

“This demonstration was different from that of a contractor site visit which many of our employees go on regularly. This was set up to be an up-close demonstration by an active duty Army unit that were in preparations for real world missions,” said Prado. “The service members conducting the demonstration stressed the important role that contracting and contract administration plays in their ability to execute their mission.”

Prado said the importance that employees have that connection with the warfighter, to see the equipment actually in the hands of these young troops and know that their lives could depend on it.

This year’s training event provided the opportunity to bring the whole team together in an international environment where they were able to voice questions and ideas.
“This reinforced a new perspective, as well as gave us an understanding of management’s expectations of us,” said Valerie Hahn, an administrative contracting officer. “With all of us coming from different stateside offices and bringing various levels of skillsets, we were able to create a listing of important tasks, and make connections to not only policy guidance, but from an experienced point of view.”

To close out the event, the DCMA Europe contracts group held a promotion ceremony for Air Force Capt. Kyle Van Alstine, a contract administrator. Team members not only observed the promotion, but some played a role in the ceremony.

“I’ve worked for the U.S. government for 28 years, and although I’ve seen many promotion ceremonies before, this is the first time I’ve been asked to be part of one,” said Hahn. “It was truly an honor to pin on the new rank onto Capt. Van Alstine’s shoulder. Overall, I feel like our camaraderie as a group was strengthened, which will directly reflect in our work conducted for the success of our DCMA mission.”

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