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News | Oct. 4, 2022

DLA acquisition professionals complete Insights into Industry program at UVA

By Nancy Benecki DLA Public Affairs

The Defense Logistics Agency recently sent 27 members from the acquisition workforce to its Insight into Industry program at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

The course, held Aug. 7-9 at the UVA campus, provides professional development and helps employees understand industry perspectives, said Jovany Munoz, a procurement analyst with DLA Acquisition and Insight into Industry program manager.

“Participants learn to develop and foster understanding of cash flow, profit, risk and contribution margin in industry decision-making,” Munoz said. “Also, this course provides insights into understanding business practices, leadership, innovations, and partnership relations with the government to include lessons learned and best practices.”  

Amanda Collins, a Defense Agencies Initiatives performance management lead for DLA, has been with the agency for 17 months. She received an excellence award from the program for engaging in conversations and sharing real world experiences for the benefit of her fellow students.

“I didn’t realize how big DLA was until I was in the program and really got to see the breadth and depth of everything we do every day,” Collins said.

Matthew Womer is a contracting officer for DLA Energy who has been with agency for almost six years. He also earned an excellence award for participation for asking so many questions “trying to figure out exactly how and why and what I was going to use when I came back to make the course worthwhile for myself and my teammates,” he said.

He described the two-week program as intense, with students attending 15 sessions in the first three days.

“It was unlike any course I have taken previously with DLA Energy,” said Womer, also a graduate of the Pathways to Career Excellence program.

Darden professors were amazing, Womer added. He became a supervisor six months ago and took to heart instruction on managing employees with diverse skills and talents.

“It opened my eyes and made me think that maybe I need to take a step back and find out how I’m utilizing my human resources and apply them where they’re needed,” Womer said.

Program instructors were the best part of the program, Collins added.

“I felt like every instructor in that program wanted me to learn something and wanted me to walk away feeling like the program was worth it for me,” she said.

She has a Master of Business Administration from Georgetown University and was working on her doctorate in emergency management and global health from Lynchburg University during the program.

“I told the finance instructor that he taught me everything I needed to know in 75 minutes,” Collins said. “It never made more sense to me in all the years that I’ve been working in finance than it does now.” 

Womer learned about market intelligence and improving relationships with vendors during the program. Now that the program is complete, he said he wants to figure out why DLA Energy lost some vendors in Germany and how to strengthen the supply chain and increase readiness.

Vendor engagement also will be key in finding out how the market is and where it’s going in a post COVID-19 world, he said.

The program improved Collins’ understanding of her colleagues’ roles.

“It gave me a better look into what the contracting people do, the types of conversations they're having with vendors, and the negotiation part of what they're going through to get to the most favorable position for not only the government but our vendor partners,” Collins said.

One session revealed that contractors aren’t necessarily all about the bottom line or trying to get every contract, she said.

“It was really interesting to hear someone in the industry say sometimes he has to tell his boss that pursuing this contract is not worth it because it's not going to give them a competitive leg up. It's not a contract that's going to get their foot into a door that's been closed for years,” she added.

Womer saw differences and similarities in how defense industry and DLA organizations operate.

“You normally don’t get the insights of people from different MSCs and get to speak to individuals one-on-one to understand their policies and understand how they are operating on a daily basis,” he said.

The program also offers an opportunity for DLA employees to think about what the next step in their careers may be, Collins said.

“The student population is from so many different areas. It really provides opportunities to learn about the DLA mission and what else is available,” she said.

Members of the Senior Executive Service had lunch and dinner with students throughout the program to encourage interactions and informal conversations with leaders.

“It gave you unfiltered access to some leadership that you might be scared to ask for or are not comfortable enough to look for,” she said.

DLA leaders who participated in the program included Matthew Beebe, DLA Acquisition director; Roxanne Banks, DLA Acquisition deputy director; Kristin French, DLA Logistics Operations deputy director; Adarryl Roberts, program executive officer for DLA Information Operations; and Brad Bunn, DLA vice director.

Collins said she would recommend the program to anyone, especially for the opportunity to network with employees from other parts of DLA.

Womer added that future students should be prepared before classes start by completing the reading assignments and being ready to participate.

The Insight into Industry program is directly linked to DLA’s Acquisition Modernization Program, Munoz said, because it deepens industry engagement and strengthens DLA’s acquisition workforce.