News | May 6, 2021

Leadership Spotlight: Bill Cohoe

DLA Disposition Services Public Affairs

Bill Cohoe

Disposition Services Safety Manager
Battle Creek, Michigan

official photo
Bill Cohoe
Bill Cohoe is the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services safety manager. Cohoe has been with the federal government for 34 years.
Photo By: Jace Armstrong
VIRIN: 170505-D-D0441-100
Describe your job in a sentence or two.
Assisting the organization with direction, programs and processes that protect the health and safety of all employees in Disposition Services from exposure to hazards.

How long have you worked for the federal government including military service? 34 years to include 9 years as active-duty military and 14 years with the Air Force Reserve.

How long have you worked for DLA Disposition Services? 2 years, previously 12 years with DLA Installation Management at the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center

What is your favorite thing about your line of work? Making a difference and working with the subject matter experts in each area utilizing risk management techniques to make the operations safer.

What is the best piece of advice someone has given you? Don’t “wait” for opportunity…look for it and go after it! What’s the worst that can happen?

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess? Integrity, honesty and courage to address issues quickly and efficiently.  As a good friend of mine says “bad news doesn’t get better with age.”

What is your leadership philosophy and how does that tie into your line of work? Always inspire, encourage and support my employees to go the extra mile.

How would you describe your leadership style and why has it worked so well for you? I would say I’m a cross between Democratic and Coach style leadership.  I like to allow my team to have ownership and exercise authority in the decision-making process which I believe is empowering and puts emphasis on employee’s growth and success.

Tell us how you approach change. Change is ever constant in life.  Sometimes it is easy to accept, other times not so much.  I try to analyze the changes at hand, develop a way forward and apply the maximum effort required to make the transition smooth and successful.

What keeps you motivated. The idea that what my branch does has a positive effect or impact on the safety of the workforce.

What do you look for when evaluating top talent? Detail oriented self-starters.

Man with two raccoons on his shoulders
Bill Cohoe
Bill Cohoe rehabs raccoons.
Photo By: Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 190815-D-D0441-600
What do you believe is your biggest accomplishment and why?
Not really sure if it is “my” accomplishment, but it is quite an honor having five of my previous employees now working at the GS 13/14 levels.  I hope it was my leadership, mentoring and “down to earth” discussions that pushed them to the next level.

What are your best practices for achieving goals or accomplishing tasks? Develop a vison of the end product then create a plan that has built in weigh points.

What do you see as your biggest challenge right now? There is currently considerable change in the safety world which changes the overall way we do business.  The new change is pinning the rose on the supervisors to complete most of the work the safety staff used to do.  While I understand the need for the change it is sometimes hard to accept that I am creating additional workload on an already tapped out management staff.

Why is networking to build professional relationships so important in achieving success? A strong professional network is a very powerful entity.  I am connected to many different branches and directorates both internal and external to DLA.  I have personnel within the organization that I can go to get a true perspective at how we are operating.  Its not always pleasant to hear but it helps us define our way forward.  I am always looking for better and more efficient ways to operate and having a network to reach out to gives me the opportunity to bounce ideas of others who have been where we are.

What mistakes have you seen individuals make that prevent them from being successful? Waiting on opportunity, doing only what is asked from them rather than trying to be proactive and looking for opportunities to streamline processes.

Tell us something that most people might not know about you or your directorate? I love rehabbing raccoons, releasing them and then have them come back to visit year after year.  I had one female racoon that brought litters of kits to show off for four years.  She would come to be hand fed her beloved cookies, but the babies always stayed at a distance.

What was your first job? Worked at family-owned bowling alley.

What is your best memory of working here? So many great memories, but the opportunity to work with some incredible leaders and “rock star” employees while deployed in support of Disposition Services to both Kandahar and Bagram are among my best.  I made some lifelong friends and learned so much about the business.

Man and a child boy and girl on a beach
Bill Cohoe
Bill Cohoe visits the beach with his two grandchildren.
Photo By: Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 200502-D-D0441-501
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to a veterinarian, marine biologist or a firefighter. My high school grades said firefighter.

Who is your hero? I actually have many heroes.  Anyone that follows their dreams though hardship or adversity to see those dreams through is a hero in my book.

If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be? Scuba dive with my dad and Jacques Cousteau.

What are your hobbies? Hunting, fishing, camping and spending time with family…especially my grandchildren.

What is your favorite quote? It doesn’t necessarily bode well in the safety arena, but in my previous career as a fire fighter I had the opportunity to work and train with some true heroes. One of them had a saying that has stuck with me for 20+ years , “the brave live forever while the cautious ever live.”

Anything you’d like to add? It’s an absolute pleasure working with such a devoted workforce and proactive leadership.