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News | July 24, 2018

Mentoring offers contracting officers networking

By Stephanie Buggs, DLA Energy Student Trainee DLA Energy Public Affairs

Contracting and acquisition professionals attended a mentoring program kick-off ceremony at the McNamara Headquarters Complex, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, July 11.

The Defense Logistics Agency Energy Supplier Operations sponsored program consists of group mentoring sessions and networking opportunities to assist contracting officers in their professional development. This is the second offering of this job-specific program.

“DLA Energy had a successful first year of this program and we are excited with moving into its second year,” said DLA Energy Career Management Specialist Frankie Silver in opening remarks. “Last year’s team leads, group members and mentors had great suggestions that were incorporated in the planning of this year’s program.”

DLA Acquisitions Deputy Director Roxanne Banks served as the guest speaker of the event and gave some advice to the audience.

“Don’t be afraid of critical feedback,” she said. “The goal of the program is to make you successful in what you do, so we are better equipped to support the warfighter.” 

Changes to the mentoring program this year, suggested by last year’s graduates, include large and small group meetings so the more than 70 participants can learn from different mentors each month, said DLA Energy Procurement Process Support Directorate Division Chief Ditu Kasuyi.

“The purpose of these sessions are to create a space where mentors can share their knowledge with mentees based on their experiences,” he said. “Success is the ability to pass the baton of knowledge and expertise to the next generation.”

Four small group sessions are offered: Big Picture of DLA Energy Operational Support, Lessons Learned from the Agency Management Review, What Leaders Should Know about Managing Up in DLA Energy and Strategies for Minimizing the Risk of Protest.

The What Leaders Should Know about Managing Up in DLA Energy session prepares contracting officers for higher levels of responsibility. The goal of the class is to have mentees feel comfortable when presenting new ideas, leading briefings and conducting presentations to business unit directors.

There will be three sessions for all mentees: Multiple Paths to Career Success in DLA Energy, Managing Your Career through Performance, Image and Exposure and 809 Panel Transforming Department of Defense Acquisition.

The mentor’s duty is to help employees grow, invest in DLA Energy’s future by developing talent, and further develop their leadership skills through feedback and communication.

This year, the program has 10 mentors from across the DLA Energy organization:
- Gabby Earhardt, director, Supplier Operations
- Kevin Ahern, acting director, Procurement Process Support Directorate
- Kathleen Murphy, chief counsel, DLA Counsel – Energy
- Pam Griffith, director, Installation Energy
- Doug Smith, director, Aerospace Energy
- Laurie Carlson, deputy director, Utility Services
- Erin Ralph, deputy director, Bulk Petroleum Supply Chain Services
- Gerald Tinner, deputy director, Bulk Petroleum Products
- Stephen Grace, chief, Plans and Operations

Mentoring is an opportunity to develop the organization’s future leaders, Carlson said.

“It’s a win-win for everyone in the program,” she said. “We’re building new relationships with employees in other business units, and it provides me a way to continue to develop my leadership skills.”

The mentees will be able to develop new skills and expertise, enhance their confidence and knowledge when dealing with challenges and issues, gain access to other acquisition professionals’ perspectives and viewpoints, network with other contracting officers and learn as much as they can from their mentors.

DLA Energy Installation Energy Contract Specialist Cindy Ralph participated in the program last year and returned for more experience.

“I thought the program was helpful,” Ralph said. “I’m happy to see the structure changes, and I am excited about the sessions this year.”

DLA Energy Supplier Operations Director Gabby Earhardt gave closing remarks to the attendees.

“To all of the contract officers beginning this program today, your learning journey is continuous because there is always more to learn,” she said. “The nature of our mission requires that we continue to do more.”