News | Oct. 1, 2021

Leadership Spotlight: William Jerome

DLA Disposition Services Public Affairs

William Jerome

Defense Logistics Agency, Installation Management Site Director

Battle Creek, Mich.

Tell us a little about yourself. I am a leader for Defense Logistics Agency; my professional background is in engineering working in several disciplines. In the beginning of my career, I spent time in the chemical industry, then I transitioned and started working for the U.S. Navy in mechanical engineering. Later, I worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs in environmental engineering, facilities engineering, construction, safety, emergency management and eventually became a supervisor. My time with DLA began as chief of engineering, focusing on facilities engineering and construction. My duties have expanded as Director of Installation Management, and now I manage a team providing engineering and construction support and teams for security, emergency management, equipment, real property, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and business management.

Describe your job in a sentence or two. I have an internal mission to support DLA Disposition Services headquarters, DLA Finance, DLA Logistics Operations, DLA Information Operations and other building tenants to ensure the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center has proper security, facility conditions, equipment and MWR facilities that meet the needs of our customers. My external mission is to ensure DLA Disposition Services’ sites meet Department of Defense and DLA standards.

How long have you worked for the federal government, including military service? Approximately 20 years.

How long have you worked for DLA?  Approximately six years.

What is your favorite thing about your line of work?  Fixing things, resolving conflicts and supporting the customer to help them get their job done in the best environment we can provide.

What is the best piece of advice someone has given you?  People care about things as much as you do, therefore care a lot if it’s important to your mission. Own your team’s mistakes, learn from them and move forward. I heard the acronym FIDO recently in a story about U.S. Marine Lt. Clebe McClary. He defines FIDO as, “Forget It and Drive On - don’t forget the people, but forget the problems that discourage you and drive on.”

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?  You need to care about people.

What is your leadership philosophy and how does that tie into your line of work?  I believe in iterative improvements in most of my decisions, then use the plan-do-check-act cycle to ensure it is working. Evolution not Revolution.

How would you describe your leadership style and why has it worked so well for you?  I am naturally a democratic leader as I can gain new ideas from my expert staff, which allow me to provide a vision and goals that are achievable and within scope for the customer.  

What do you look for when evaluating top talent?  A can-do attitude, a history of successes in their area of expertise and a high level of emotional intelligence.

What mistakes have you seen individuals make that prevent them from being successful?  Over approximately 12 years of supervision I have seen many mistakes, both by myself and by others, that could have gone better. Some of the biggest were those defeated by a negative attitude before they began. I have been able to encourage some of my team to keep trying for their goals and they turned them into success stories. So don’t be defeated before the battle begins. Others made the mistake of not taking wise advice from others that had already gone down a path. Get a mentor if you don’t have one and listen to their advice. Finally, I have seen a lot of people make the mistake of leaving a job because of one bad leader and the bad leader ended up leaving anyway. Focus on your mission, get through it, and don’t change your direction because of one bad leader.      

Name your favorite/recent book(s) you have read.  Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman.

Tell us something that most people might not know about you or your directorate?  We are totally focused on supporting the customer although we are aligned independently of them under Installation Management. We also have the dual internal and external missions which means we’re a hybrid directorate unlike other Installation Management teams.

What was your first job?  As a young man, I landscaped and push-mowed lawns for a summer. I learned that hard work is sometimes very hard, but most importantly, I learned to make sure I cut each yard as if it were my own, even when no one else was watching. I have taken this lesson into every job I do.

What is your best memory of working here?  We have been able to support the customer through proper spending of funds every year since I have arrived. This has been the most rewarding part of the job for me as this means facilities are in safe and proper working order, globally.

What did you want to be when you grew up? An engineer.

What are your hobbies? Outdoor activities.

What is your favorite quote?  “I destroy my enemy when I make him my friend”- Abraham Lincoln