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News | Sept. 29, 2015

Job shadowing - all the way to the top

By Matthew Montgomery DCMA Public Affairs

Ellerie Rollins is currently going through the Graduate School USA’s nine-month Executive Leadership Program and was able to work out a job shadowing opportunity with the Defense Contract Management Agency Director, Air Force Lt. Gen. Wendy Masiello.

“As part of the leadership program you have to identify three competencies for growth and development. Mine were strategic thinking, human capital management and influencing and negotiating,” said Rollins, a quality assurance specialist with DCMA Special Programs in New Hampshire. “When I thought about the shadowing assignment, I felt the best opportunity to gain a strategic perspective would be to go all the way to the top and shadow the director. Once my supervisor gave me the green light, I emailed Lt. Gen. Masiello with the request.”

The response was more than Rollins had anticipated. Not only did Masiello agree to the job shadowing request, she reached out to the senior leadership team to see if other leaders could make time for Rollins while she was at headquarters.

The end result was a four-day experience where Rollins, a recent Keystone graduate, was able to shadow Masiello and Mike Shields, Quality Assurance Directorate executive director; and conduct an interview with Jay Norris, Special Programs Directorate executive director. During her visit, she also attended the DCMA Council meeting and witnessed several leadership meetings.

Rollins said the whole experience was slightly intimidating at first, but those apprehensions faded away when she saw the clear connection between headquarters and the field offices.

“Knowing I would be sitting in with the DCMA Council made me nervous because I thought I would be overwhelmed and unknowledgeable of the issues they were discussing,” Rollins said. “What I found was the complete opposite; there are definite connections between what’s going on in the field and what they’re talking about up here. It was really refreshing to see how decisions are made at the strategic level and to know that we’re all on the same page.”

A military connection was another reason Rollins, a master sergeant in the Air Force Reserve, chose to shadow Masiello. Rollins is a structural maintenance supervisor with the 439th Maintenance Squadron at Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts, and knew the experience would strengthen both her military and civilian careers.

“Probably one of the biggest benefits was just being present during the general’s meetings and seeing how she handles the amount of information she has to process,” Rollins said. “She does an amazing job of asking specific questions to understand how the agency is going to be affected by the information she receives.”

Rollins was able to use the one-on-one time with Masiello to ask targeted questions about leadership and strategic thinking. During those sessions, Rollins said she gained valuable insight into how she can go back to her contract management office team and align her office’s mission with the agency’s mission, vision and strategic plan.

The most valuable question Rollins said she asked was, “Now that I’ve gained this insight, if I could bring one thing back to my CMO, what would it be?” Masiello’s response was to break down the barriers between functional areas and personalities, affect one change at a time and make sure customers know the value of DCMA and what the agency is capable of.