What are your first impressions of DLA Energy?
Everyone I’ve met has been tremendous in their knowledge. I’m really excited about my time here. DLA Energy has a workforce that’s doing amazing things for our nation.
It’s not just for the Department of Defense, but our Whole of Government partners as well, especially when it comes to humanitarian needs. My first week here, I got a view of the hurricane relief efforts and what DLA Energy teams do to support response operations.
Also, one of my first honors as the commander was to preside over the 2018 DLA Energy Hall of Fame ceremony and recognize the contributions and legacy of four leaders who have had a huge impact on the organization.
Recently, the DLA director released the results of the 2018 DLA Culture and Climate Survey. What are some of the DLA Energy-specific results and key takeaways?
The attitude of everyone I encounter validates the results of the Culture and Climate Survey. DLA Energy can take pride in a 22.2 percent increase in the 12 indexes that are measured along with receiving the highest-ever index score of 66. Going forward, it’s important to sustain the great culture and create a comprehensive culture action plan suitable for the workforce.
It’s also vital to measure the impact of the culture for effectiveness in warfighter support. I want everyone to be satisfied and happy and proud to work for DLA Energy. Culture will drive everything — the organization, the command and, in the end, support to the warfighter.
Speaking of people and culture, what are some efforts aimed at developing the DLA Energy workforce?
DLA Energy is developing the workforce through three standing workforce councils — Culture Council, Supervisory Council and Training Council — which encourage multilevel, transparent communication within our organization. In addition, we introduced the DLA Energy Career Management Portfolio and are encouraging DLA Energy nominees for the Executive Development Program. All these efforts are aimed at developing the DLA Energy workforce.
How do you feel your past experience prepares you for the leadership role here at a major subordinate command?
It’s my joint experiences that prepare me, coming from a kinetic environment. At U.S. Central Command, I saw day to day how DLA Energy’s mission unfolded and the hurdles they had to overcome. It was very valuable to get a DLA perspective in that particular theater. As the chief of plans for the Joint Staff, I understood how important planning and logistics are to DLA Energy. Most importantly, in my very first assignment in the Air Force as a tanker pilot, I saw the very tactical end of what DLA Energy provides in fuel to joint and coalition partners. For me in my experience, it came full circle from the tactical to the strategic view point.
How does the battle rhythm differ between operational and staff environments?
Different but the same. I came from an operational assignment in the Middle East as director of the CENTCOM Deployment and Distribution Operations Center and deputy director of the CENTCOM Logistics and Engineering Directorate at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, where it was very dynamic.
DLA Energy is a lot like that, with day-to-day mission-support operations around the world as we keep our finger on the pulse of what’s going on in every theater of the globe. There’s an incredible amount of work going on to ensure the services are getting the energy they need to accomplish their mission, whether training or operational. There’s also an important, deliberate planning piece to ensure we’re postured to support the department’s vision and readiness goals and we’re ready to have DLA Energy where it needs to be for our services around the globe.
How does DLA Energy’s Dynamic Operating Plan connect with the agency’s priorities into 2019 of continued warfighter support, audit support and defense reform?
Warfighter support will focus heavily on combatant commands changing requirements in an efficient and innovative way that drives our energy support to the warfighter.
The defense reform initiative will grow through utility contracts. The Navy has agreed to use an annual contract agent for their utilities that will provide a cost-savings of $2.4 million for the Department of Defense. Additionally, the Air Force is piloting the development of an Energy-as-a-Service Program at two bases. To meet their energy needs, DLA Energy can bundle energy to support utilities — infrastructure, maintenance and energy support — in regulated and non-regulated environments.
Audit-support efforts will establish a beginning balance for fiscal 2019. We’re also providing evidential matter that validates processes conducted at 98 site locations in fiscal 2018. This goal will reflect DLA Energy as the first in DLA to assert a beginning balance for fiscal 2019. Additionally, DLA Energy is the lead for three Notices of Findings and Recommendations, which involve a comprehensive analysis and require the responsible office to remediate and correct the NFR.
What are your vision and goals for the organization over the next couple of years?
Having the assumption of command and strategic off-site with the regional commanders was extremely beneficial right up front. We looked at the strategy map and what was accomplished for last year and what we can expect for the upcoming year. My vision is right in line with the previous DLA Energy vision; we’re synchronized with the director’s strategy map for all of DLA.
We’re going to focus on our dynamic operating plan to ensure we have achievable initiatives for the fiscal year with measurable goals to move the enterprise forward. We’re looking forward to being proactive of the warfighter’s needs and supporting the National Defense Strategy Dynamic Force Employment. Collaboration is essential for success.
How do you see DLA Energy improving readiness and combat capability for the warfighter?
Through strategic, deliberate planning for potential contingencies and warfighter needs. Every single day, DLA Energy provides fuel to the services for training and makes sure they have it where they need it for war plans. This is our bread and butter: day-to-day operations.
How would you describe your leadership style?
Empowering leadership. I absolutely trust people to do their jobs. They’re the experts. I want them to be bold and look at the factors, and if it’s appropriate for them to make a decision at their level, I want them to do that. If the decision is not at their level, I expect people to communicate issues up the chain to the appropriate level for a decision.
We have an incredible workforce that knows their job and knows it better than anybody else. If they’re the right person to make a decision, they need to know that I trust them to make the right decision.
Maintaining balance is another tenet of mine. We can’t have everyone sprinting through a marathon; we have to maintain balance and not run out of gas. I also can’t overemphasize the importance of respecting everyone’s dignity and working together to achieve goals.
What are your expectations of your senior DLA Energy leaders?
I want them to lead boldly, make decisions and empower their personnel. That’s how we build our bench of future leaders to step in when we move on. I want them to develop, mentor and empower our younger leaders. We can do this by emphasizing the tools provided in the DLA Energy Career Management Portfolio, which outlines a variety of professional growth opportunities both within DLA and across the government to help employees build individual development plans and manage their careers.
What are you most looking forward to during your assignment with DLA Energy?
Getting to know the people and what they need. The more you know people, the better you understand their issues and the amazing things they are doing. That’s what recharges my battery — it’s not sitting in front of a computer monitor; it’s engaging face-to-face and asking what I can do for them to make their jobs better.
Our employees are our greatest resource and with that in mind, we’re committed to providing the skills, tools and supportive resources that empower them to meet the demands of DLA Energy’s current and future mission requirements.
Being a geographically separated military spouse, how do you and your family handle separation, especially with school-aged children?
Technology becomes a double-edged sword. I Facetime my family all the time. I’m only one time zone away, compared to being in theater with a 10-hour time difference. Virtually, we do some deliberate things like eat dinner together, play cards and have conversations. It’s hard and emotionally challenging to miss important years of my children’s lives.
My advice for those who deploy is to take a family vacation away from home so you can really connect as a family without distractions. We’ve already made plans like that. It’s also really important to thank the family for their support. The real heroes are the children; they are along for the ride and never had a vote for this lifestyle.
The word is you enjoy outdoor activities and recreational sports. What else makes you human?
Family first. Then recreational skeet shooting and scuba diving.
In closing, I’m really excited and couldn’t be more humbled and proud for this opportunity to lead an amazing group of warfighter supporters.
I look forward to meeting as many people as I can and to seeing you at the Worldwide Energy Conference scheduled for May 2019. New this year, we will have a venue I like to call “speed dating,” which is a means of networking in a structured environment right at the beginning of the conference. I’m also excited to bring the regional and incoming commanders to the event so both can engage and collaborate.