BATTLE CREEK, Mich. –
A Dec. 3 oath of office ceremony welcomed the members of the 38th Pathways to Career Excellence class to Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services.
“When you take a job with the Department of Defense, it’s not just a job, it’s a job with a unique mission to support and defend,” DLA Disposition Services Director Mike Cannon said as he prepared to administer the oath to the PaCE class.
“Even though we’re civilians, we take the same oath as these officers take and we have the same expectations of us by the people we support -- the warfighter and the American people,” Cannon said.
Prior to administering the oath, Cannon and his senior leadership team took a moment to get to know the new associates and provide words of wisdom as they start their new career path. A common theme of advice to the class members was to be open to opportunities -- whether it be a new area of interest or moving site locations—to get outside of their respective comfort zones, to grow, to find mentors and be mentors themselves.
PaCE is a two-year training program designed to train entry-level personnel starting at a pay grade of General Schedule-7, or “GS-7,” for subsequent advancement to the journey-level in professional, administrative and technological career fields, graduating the program as a GS-11. Besides formal classroom training during the program, participants receive on-the-job assignments, cross-training and rotational opportunities.
Unique to DLA Disposition Services, each PaCER will shadow Cannon for 1 week, learning the ins-and-outs of the business to include site visits, senior leadership engagements, meetings and day-to-day operations.
“This program is very competitive,” Cannon said. “We want to hire people that we can promote, that will continue on from the GS-11 to GS-14 and 15s and maybe even one day take my place at the table as the SES.”
Cannon shared the journeys of some of the leaders in the agency that started out entry level and worked their way up, inspiring the new class to do the same.
Arthur Welsh, director of operations, started as a GS-2 and moved over to the wage grade side. That is where he started his service with DLA and was selected for the employee enhancement program. He worked his way up the disposition chain, learning the various aspects of operations and taking assignments abroad and deploying a couple times with the agency. Thirty-three years later, he leads the directorate supporting field operations (as a GS-15) and understands those operations better than anybody else because he’s done it all.
Tracy Hart, director of contracting and chief of contracting office, journey started as part of the Battle Creek Central High School’s “Stay in School” program working as a GS-1 for the agency. After her first summer, she was converted to a student hire and later selected for the first local intern program in Battle Creek for contracting. With hard work and great mentors, she received promotions and now oversees the contracting operations for Disposition Services as a GS-15.
“To be minimally successful in DLA and Disposition Services, come to work on time, do a good job and be nice to people,” said Cannon as he provided final words of wisdom to his newest associates. “If you want to advance and do more, come in on time or early, come in when you’re needed and do a great job. Do more than what is expected and offer to do things nobody else wants to do. Be nice to people.”