News | May 24, 2021

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month spotlight: Patricia Wilkins

By DLA Energy Public Affairs

Patricia Wilkins is the acting DLA Energy Deputy Commander. For more than 20 years, she has been a part of the DLA team with 17 of those years with DLA Energy. 

In her permanently assigned position, Wilkins serves as the Director of DLA Energy Quality Technical Directorate providing the Department of Defense with worldwide integrated quality assurance and technical solutions for energy products and services. Prior to this position, she worked in DLA Headquarters J34 (Logistics, Policy, and Strategic Programs) in the Technical and Quality Assurance Division.  

In this spotlight, we asked her about her career and what Asian Pacific American Heritage Month means to her.

Tell us a little bit about your career:

Straight out of college, I started my career at DLA Energy (called Defense Energy Support Center at the time) as a chemist. I worked my way up the ranks within Quality as the Division Chief of Product Technology and Standardization, then became the Deputy Director of Quality. I left Energy around June 2015 to work at DLA Headquarters J34. 

At DLA HQ, I led high performance teams working 20 separate programs that support DLA's strategic/operational goals; some of the programs I led included HAZMAT, National Stock Number Mapping, Product Quality Deficiency Report, TQ Workforce Development, Supply Chain Sustainability, and Storage and Handling. I managed efforts to analyze and resolve process issues and problems of particularly high visibility and criticality to the agency. I’ve come full circle and now I’m back at DLA Energy. I came back to the DLA Energy in February 2021 as the Director of the Quality Technical Directorate providing technical/product engineering and operational quality support for all energy products procured. In May of this year, I transitioned to the DLA Energy Acting Deputy Commander position in which I’m truly appreciative of this opportunity to grow. 

Describe your job in a sentence:  

That’s a bit hard since I’ve been in this position for a week and a half. But, if I would describe my job in a sentence, it would be … to provide support, guidance, and direction for the agency to excel, meet the mission of supporting the warfighter and develop an environment of superstars. 

How long have you worked at DLA?

I’ve worked at DLA for 22 years. 

What is your favorite thing about working for DLA? 

THE PEOPLE…. I love building relationships and knowing we all have a common goal of supporting the warfighter and at the same time building a culture of respect, professionalism, and excellence.

What is the most rewarding part of your career?

The most rewarding part of my career is knowing that we MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Every part of our organization plays their part in supporting so many aspects of Energy within the Department of Defense. Just to give one example … In my past position in Quality, I had direct impact on the development of specifications used in the commercial sector ensuring it also met the needs of our customers.   

What advice would you give your younger self?

It is okay to make mistakes and don’t be too critical of yourself. We grow more from our mistakes than we do from our successes.   

How do you make a difference?  

I feel I make a difference by trying to lead by example. I won’t tell people to do things that I wouldn’t do myself. When people come to me with issues, I try to help to the best of my ability where possible. 

What advice would you give to DLA employees?

The main advice I would give is that “Everyone is a leader” and can make lasting changes within the organization. If there are opportunities for improvement, don’t wait for someone to task it to you. Take the initiative to start a project and be proactive. 

What does Asian American Pacific Islanders Month mean to you and why is your heritage is important to you?

It is great to have a dedicated time that pays tribute to Asian and Pacific Islanders that have contributed to this nation. Growing up half Korean and half African American, is definitely a big part of who I am. My husband is also half-Korean. For a big part of my childhood, I grew up in Korea. My core values of respect, tradition and value for education come from not only my Asian culture, but African American culture. It is this diversity of having two worlds that have enriched my world view and perspective.