By Stephen Hickok
DCMA Public Affairs
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - An emerging aircraft industry here has created a unique opportunity for Defense Contract Management Agency International employees. The country is in the middle of an upgrade program for the F-15S fighter aircraft to a more advanced model and DCMA’s dedicated team is supporting the $500 million effort.
“Working at DCMA Saudi Arabia provides an exciting and unique challenge to all our employees,” said Derrick Robinson, a DCMA Saudi Arabia quality assurance specialist. “Saudi Arabia has been expanding into unchartered territories with its emerging aircraft industry.”
The DCMA Saudi Arabia team provides support for several F-15 upgrades as well as other geographic quality work throughout the country. “Saudi Arabia is investing a great deal of money and effort into their manufacturing capabilities,” said Robinson. “They want to become an aircraft manufacturing and repair location for this region and are now training their workforce to take on these challenges.”
Robinson has worked for over two years in Saudi Arabia as a quality technical lead on one of the largest foreign military sales contracts in U.S. history - valued at over $29 billion. The technical part of Robinson’s responsibilities may be the same as in other aircraft industries closer to home, but the work and life experiences here are quite different.
“This job has afforded me the opportunity to work with a well-rounded group of quality professionals. The difference from working here and the states is that generally the off duty hours are not spent with coworkers,” said Robinson. “Here you work, live and play with your coworkers. So, having a good attitude and getting along with others is a plus.”
Currently, DCMA International has openings for several positions in the growing Saudi Arabia branch. “The largest need is for quality assurance representatives and administrative contracting officers,” said Robinson. “But there are also openings for engineers, program integrators, mission analysts and contract administrators.”
In addition to the professional challenge of working with foreign military sales, working overseas has other benefits.
For Dennis McKinley, a quality assurance specialist for DCMA Saudi Arabia, the challenge has been worth it. “This career opportunity isn’t for everybody,” he said. “Being able to hit the ground running, make good, sound decisions, work unusual hours, and be able to be a team player are necessary. Time moves very fast, and the opportunity to work with outstanding employees, and the FMS programs, plus the ability to save money makes this a great adventure.”
A low cost of living is a key incentive for many DCMA employees deciding on the overseas assignment, according to Army Lt. Col. David Luttrell, DCMA Saudi Arabia commander.
“With the exception of food, all necessary supplies and services for living and working in Saudi Arabia are provided to our employees for free,” Luttrell said. “In the evenings and on weekends, our employees frequently venture into Riyadh to take full advantage of the many cultural experiences Saudi Arabia has to offer. Whether it’s trying new cuisine, shopping, exploring museums, or hiking mountains in the desert, Saudi Arabia has something for everyone.”
Robinson said working at DCMA Saudi Arabia has been a rewarding experience. “This is my second tour here in the Middle East with DCMA and I’m sure it won’t be my last. Saudi Arabia has a rich and interesting culture.”
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