33 protégés graduate Land and Maritime mentoring program

By Craig M. Rader DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

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A ceremony at the Defense Supply Center Columbus recognized recent graduates of the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime’s Professional Self-Development Mentoring Program (Level I).

The Feb. 28 event highlighted the efforts of the 33 graduating protégés, along with 29 mentors who provided guidance and support throughout the duration of the program. 

The Level I program provides professional development and learning opportunities for associates graded below the GS/WG-9 (General Salary/Wage Grade) level. It requires a one-year commitment from participants, who work with their mentors to advance and improve their competencies and skills.

“The strategic relationships we build through the mentoring program give us a greater understanding of DLA as a whole,” said Sir Ovynten Rivera, a purchasing agent at DLA Land and Maritime and one of the graduating protégés. “The program exposes mentees to a vast support system of seasoned employees through its networking opportunities.”

To successfully complete the program, mentees must participate in at least seven online or live training events outside their normal work duties during the 12-month evaluation period. Mentees work with the program coordinator and their mentors to facilitate an action plan to meet their goals.

Since the program’s inception in 2005, more than 225 DLA associates have completed the Level I course. Many of those graduates later became mentors themselves.

Don Schulze, deputy chief of staff at DLA Land and Maritime, spoke during the graduation. He said the relationship between mentees and mentors provides benefits for everyone involved. He also thanked the managers and supervisors of the graduates for allowing their staff members the freedom to pursue personal and professional development throughout the past year. 

“There are so many reasons why I think the mentoring programs are some of the best things offered at Land and Maritime,” Schulze said. “I can’t think of another organization that provides the same amount of attention and dedication as we do through these programs.”

Schulze said experts across nearly every industry in both private and public sectors credit mentoring with contributing to professional success. In one study, nearly 85 percent of top business executives attribute their accomplishments to lessons learned from mentors as their careers were starting out.

“Mentoring is a lifelong journey,” said Schulze. “Congratulations to our protégés today, but don’t stop here. I know you’ve had great success, and it’s just the beginning. Keep pushing yourself to do better and show others what you’ve learned – and continue to grow in your careers.”

DLA Land and Maritime also offers tiered mentoring programs for mid-grade and senior employees. The Level II Mentoring program is available for associates graded between GS-9 and GS-12 or equivalent. The Level III Advanced Mentoring Program for Leaders is a competitive leadership development course with a two-year commitment for associates in the GS-13 and GS-14 pay grades.