Name: Darren Crowden
Organization: DLA Document Services (J67H)
Years of Service: 40
What is your job title, and what do you do, specifically?
Currently, I work on Document Services’ Customer Audit and Engagement Team as the DLA customer manager for the Army. Document Services has always been the “print guys” for DOD, but a recent update to DODI 5330.03 increased our responsibility to provide not only print, but multi-functional devices as well, while also emphasizing our capability to provide document conversion services. My job is to network with as many levels as possible within the Army to tell this message, highlighting the benefits of working with an agency such as ourselves already inside the DOD. This is a relatively new position for me as we recently underwent a reorganization in March 2022. Prior to this, I was a customer relations specialist supervisor working with a team of 12 great folks who provided our services to DOD customers in the southeast region of the U.S.
What is your background, including experience and credentials? How does your background help you be successful in your current role?
I joined the Air Force right out of high school and spent the next 23 years enjoying the military way of life. It was exactly what I needed, as that experience gave me the discipline and increasing responsibility that would set the tone for the positions I would hold later in DLA. In the military as you increase in rank, you are sent to “charm schools” that further educate you in leadership principles, military history, written and oral communication, and supervision—all of which helped me in both my military and civilian experiences. As a past supervisor and in my current role, I draw on those skills sets daily. I owe a great debt to several mentors in both worlds who took me under their wing and provided feedback and examples of what great leadership looks like. But more than that, when I was five my grandmother started taking me home with her to spend Saturday night, so I could go to church with her on Sunday. While I could write a book on the profound effect that has made on my life, you’ll just have to wait and order it when I get around to writing it.
What aspect(s) of your current job gives you the most personal satisfaction? Why?
Researching and paying attention to the details. You hear the adage, “the devil is in the details,” or “pay attention to the small print.” I like to give not only the answer, but the reason for it or the “how I got there” as well. It seems to answer a lot of questions that might come later. I find that in our busy world, we skim the top (emails, whitepapers, surveys, etc.) and think we can just get the gist of things and move on—that usually doesn’t work. People come back and ask questions that would have been answered if they had just read a little bit more or even Googled it. I understand people are busy, and some senior folks have more to do than to read a long paper or email to get all that is needed and that’s fair. So, communicate the how and why up front and move on.
What are some of your passions outside of work?
I love to go tent camping (maybe I’ll get an RV later in life), get out to nature, hike some trails, take a long bike ride down some forgotten path and do some kayaking on a big lake soaking up the sun and listening to birds chirp. It gets me away from electronics and the internet. I love all things sci-fi, Star Trek, Star Wars and I’ve been a big Superman geek from early on. I listen to a lot of Christian music and attend those type of concerts.
What advice do you have for DLA employees?
I’d say to be present and be in the moment. I think we spend too much time wishing for that next moment when we will be somewhere else or doing something else besides what we are doing right now, and we miss opportunities to engage people. Build relationships and truly listen.
What other self-initiated efforts have you worked on?
I volunteered for DLA green belt training some years ago and learned a great deal about process improvement and participated in a few initiatives to improve processes. I wish I had kept up with it as the need is great all around us. I’m brushing up on my communication and presentation skills for my current job - using LMS and some other outside experiences to supplement my education.