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News | Aug. 8, 2019

Leaders empower leaders through Federal Executive Board programs

By Elizabeth Szoke DCMA Public Affairs

Editor's note: This article originally omitted Michael Saenz' name as a graduate. Saenz is a quality assurance engineer with DCMA Los Angeles. The article has been updated to include him.

Five Defense Contract Management Agency employees recently graduated from the Greater Los Angeles Federal Executive Board 2019 leadership programs. The FEB courses included the Leadership Associates Program, or LAP, and Multiagency Leadership Program, or MLP, which garnered DCMA graduates in both.

DCMA was one of 13 federal agencies who participated in this year’s programs with graduates from the LAP – Gysselle Cox, Thao Ho, Kimberly Davis, Vicky Choi and Michael Saenz – and one graduate from the MLP – Zachary Wissell.

“Both of these programs offer tremendous opportunities to augment our agency’s centralized development program,” said David Devlin, the region’s deputy commander. “We were happy to have the opportunity to strengthen the already strong ties our region has with its local FEBs across the West by offering a location for some of the events.”

DCMA’s Western Regional Command hosted this year’s Greater Los Angeles FEB programs when locations were needed with Devlin and Larry Adams taking the lead.

"Coming up as a military officer, we had professional developmental leadership training and schooling opportunities for us at entry, mid-level, and senior management,” said Adams, the regional mission support officer. “However, those same opportunities are limited for our up and coming future civilian leaders. I feel compelled to offer any support and guidance I can in hopes to coach, train and mentor our future leadership.”

According to the Office of Personnel Management’s website, the goal of FEBs is to create a forum for communication and collaboration among federal agencies outside the Washington, D.C., area. Their mission focuses on building interagency partnerships and community involvement.

“These programs are a great way to build aspiring future leaders for DCMA,” said Gysselle Cox, a contract specialist for the agency. “We were able to network, interact and get a better understanding for other agencies’ processes and responsibilities.”

In addition to the classes and workshops during the LAP, participants coordinated and completed three tasks. They also had the opportunity to shadow and interview Senior Executive Service officials.

“During the program, I received a variety of training sessions to understand my leadership styles. Practice and empower my leadership soft skills to prepare to become a better leader,” said Thao Ho, a procurement analyst for the team. “The program was a fascinating experience and provided tremendous help to build a solid foundation for any future leaders.”

The participants of the LAP shadowed SES’s from Naval Information Warfare Systems Command during the program.

“It was truly an amazing experience and wonderful opportunity as I was able to accompany Nancy Gunderson, the NAVWAR contracts SES to one of their largest conferences held in San Diego,” Cox said. “Attending the West 2019 Naval Conference with her allowed for me to gain firsthand knowledge on multiple programs and prototypes the Navy is currently working on.”

From the MLP, Zachary Wissell, a DCMA industrial specialist, spoke about feeling a better understanding of the scope of work across the number of agencies in just the L.A. area alone and how “eye-opening” he found the course to be.

“The most interesting thing was sitting in a group of leaders discussing the successes and challenges facing the other organization,” said Wissell. “The ability to provide insight into difficulties a peer may be experiencing or to gain perspective on a challenge we may face at our own organization was invaluable.”

Wissell added that the opportunity to have face-to-face conversations like these with SES’s outside of DCMA is rare.

“Whether we work interagency or intra-agency, we are always trying to push forward and find a way for the Department of Defense enterprise to work as a more cohesive unit,” said Wissell. “Building coalitions both internally and externally is so important.”

There are 28 FEBs nationwide and they have offered these programs for federal employees for over 20 years. Devlin encourages leaders to take the opportunity to be engaged with their local FEBs.

“Taking advantage of awesome development opportunities such as these and local awards programs are important,” said Devlin. “I would like to give a special thanks to DCMA Human Capital for assisting our students and to the director of DCMA Cost and Pricing, Mr. Jorge Bennet, for taking the time to represent our agency in this year’s program.”

The team agrees that fostering a greater tie to local federal communities is important.

Thao Ho said, “I am so grateful for the experience and can’t wait for the opportunity to apply what I learned in the professional environment as a successful leader and make a difference.”