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News | July 10, 2015

DLA Energy invests in more than just energy

By Elizabeth Stoeckmann DLA Energy Public Affairs

A Defense Logistics Agency Energy employee is among 600 graduates of the joint professional military education and leadership institution, National Defense University.

Laurie Carlson graduated from NDU with a Master of Science from the Dwight D. Eisenhower School June 18. In addition to completing a master’s degree in national resource strategy, she was recognized as a distinguished graduate of the Defense Acquisition University’s Senior Acquisition Course.

NDU supports national security by providing education to develop strategic leaders who can operate and think creatively in a complex and unpredictable world. These executive-level courses are emerging into the new and continuous learning culture to meet the DLA missions and leaders of tomorrow.

“I found the NDU experience invaluable,” Carlson said of the program. “I am able to apply lessons learned from industry and military leaders at a strategic level to meet DLA’s service requirements more efficiently and effectively.”

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, implemented a Joint Education Transformation which started in the academic year 2014-2015. The new plan includes three phases – a NDU Strategic Leader Foundational Course, college core courses and personalized leader development, including electives and a capstone.

“Coming into the program at a time of change was seamless for most students; with the new leadership and curriculum changes, faculty and staff were very helpful and adaptable in helping students be successful,” Carlson said.

The student body included U.S. military officers, civilians and senior enlisted; officers and senior officials from allied nations and other federal agencies and executives from industry.

With a plethora of networks from more than 26 countries, Carlson said, NDU provides no easier way to form and expand valuable peer networks and lasting friendships.

“You quickly step back from the comforts of your own agency and see the bigger, broader perspective on national security,” she added. “We had some great discussions about current situations in the Pacific and Middle East especially from an international perspective.”

“Specifically, my most valuable time was spent studying the environmental industry,” she added.

“Industry seminars are designed to study a unique industry with a tie to our national security. The framework was designed to apply analytical techniques in assessing the state and relevance of a selected economic industrial sector to national security during normal and crisis situations. It was interesting to compare U.S. and international participants (private sector firms) on how they contributed to national security; while analyzing the role and effect of public policy on environmental firms.”

Carlson said the highlight of her industry seminar was a site visit to Australia.

“There, we learned about the Australian government as it relates to environmental protection, visited waste to energy companies and studied human and natural threats to the rainforests and Great Barrier Reef,” she added. “Additionally, we had an opportunity to observe the Australian Parliament in assembly. Protection of the environment is a major political issue in Australia, in quality and enabling environment for private-sector investment and growth.”

With a sigh of relief, Carlson said the culminating academic event was a capstone project, of which, they developed their own national security strategy, with a 30-year future forecast, based on the framework, modules, applications and seminar group input.

In addition to the foundational material at NDU taught by a combination of faculty and subject matter experts, students had the opportunity to interface with various senior leaders, government leaders and industry leaders who share invaluable experiences and perspectives.

“Listen, listen, listen to your people and get out to the lowest levels,” said American Water CEO Susan Story in a strategic leader interview Carlson conducted.

It’s this message that really pulled it all together for Carlson as she reflected on what she learned during the strategic leadership core course.

DLA annually solicits nominations for courses under the Executive Development Program. EDP develops current and future leaders, prepares them to effectively navigate and manage leadership challenges and develops leadership competencies critical to maintaining supply chain excellence.

“I encourage every employee to look at the courses available and work with your supervisor to achieve their personal and professional development goals,” said DLA Executive Development Program Manager Patricia Proctor.

In fact, this program provides an opportunity for Carlson to advance into a more strategic leadership role within DLA Energy. It’s also a challenge that NDU expects great leaders, like Carlson, to operate and creatively think in an unpredictable and complex world.  

“My new role in Installation Energy as the chief and program manager of Renewables and Energy Savings Performance Based Contracting will afford me the opportunity to lead the fastest growing DLA Energy mission and interact and engage with senior service leadership, Office of the Secretary of Defense and the White House on federal policy matters while utilizing the critical thinking skills and strategic perspectives that NDU has infused in us as successful leaders.”

Overall, Carlson said she was very glad to have the opportunity to attend the NDU program and believes employee development is the best investment an organization can provide.

She said she was most impressed with how the school embodies the balance of academics, spirituality and health to achieve an individual’s goal, and advises future students to take time for what the university calls “white space” – reflection and critical thinking.

For more information, visit the National Defense University’s website.