News | May 17, 2022

Future leaders encouraged to 'aspire, engage, learn' during virtual forum

By Nancy Benecki

The Defense Logistics Agency’s Building Your Roadmap to Success leadership forum concluded May 13 with advice for the agency’s future leaders.

“I hope you reflect in the days to come on what you’ve learned in the last two-and-a-half days and apply it to both your professional and personal lives,” said Billie Keeler, deputy director of DLA Human Resources, during the event’s closing remarks.

The three-day virtual forum included about 150 employees at the GS-14 level. During the event, attendees learned how to harness their potential and understand leadership opportunities throughout DLA.

Keeler repeated a challenge the attendees heard at the start of the event.

“That challenge was that you all communicate and engage with each other and learn from the sessions, but also learn about yourselves,” he said. “I want you to remember to aspire, engage and learn.”

DLA Chief of Staff W. Eric Smith presented “Managing Aspirations and Professional Development,” in which he outlined his four steps to achieving career aspirations: preparing for opportunities, networking, mentoring and career development.

A senior executive service panel included Kristin French, deputy director of DLA Logistics Operations; Michael Cannon, director of DLA Distribution Services; Roxanne Banks, deputy director of DLA Acquisition; and Adarryl Roberts, program executive officer of DLA information Operations.

An attendee asked Banks when she knew she had the ability and experience to become an SES. Rather than preparing for one moment, she said she’s always worked at improving herself so she would be ready for the next opportunity.

Her mentors reminded her she had a career with a variety of experience, which Banks said happened “out of interest and to be ready, just in case.”

Earlier in her career, she saw colleagues getting promoted to SES.

“That was a signal to me that there is not necessarily something magical about being an SES,” she said. “That encouraged me to say, ‘You know what? I’m worthy, too, and I think I’m ready to go about looking into it.’”

Roberts presented a “Digital Transformation: Digital Dexterity and Innovation” session about the global scope of information operations, the importance of managing data and the future of digital work.

“Part of being a strategic organization, and being one that continues to be relevant, is forward thinking,” Roberts said. “When you look at like companies like Amazon and Tesla that became the premier providers in their markets, they're always thinking five, 10, 15 years ahead of their competition.”

A panel discussing leadership at the GS-15 level included Tina Piotrowski, director of process compliance for DLA Troop Support; Martha Gray, director of DLA Energy Utilities Services; Christopher Davis, director of strategic acquisitions for DLA Aviation; and Michael Gordon, chief counsel for DLA General Counsel.

Gray said learning how to delegate, developing a team and developing oneself are some of the most important traits of a GS-15.

“It’s like taking care of a big family,” Gray said. “People are so different and you have to roll with the punches, think about how you can help your team, and sometimes go out of your own box.”