Empowering future Energy leaders

By Elizabeth Stoeckmann DLA Energy Public Affairs

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Defense Logistics Agency Energy acquisition professionals are getting a unique personalized mentoring opportunity to shadow a leader in their career field. 

The DLA Energy Shadow Program is a three-to-five-day professional development program offered year-round to employees to expose them to meaningful career conversations and exposure to leadership.

“The shadow program gives an individual employee a broader and more strategic perspective on everything DLA Energy does from supporting the Warfighter, planning for contingences to developing the workforce and refining job skills,” said DLA Energy Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Albert Miller.

LaTonya Beach, a contract specialist with DLA Energy Bulk Supply Chain Services, is on a six-month rotational assignment to DLA Energy Procurement Process Support Directorate. She shadowed the deputy director, Jacob Moser, from March 26-28.

“This is my first shadowing experience, and I recommend all employees participate in these one-on-one mentoring opportunities,” Beach said. “The value of the experience and wealth of learning is far more than I expected.”

Beach’s shadowing experience is part of the DLA Energy’s Supplier Operations Rotational Pilot Program. It is designed to cultivate new skills and provide opportunities for professional development in contracting, the lifecycle logistics career field and production quality management.

Moser thought it was important to share what he learned early on in his career with someone coming up in the ranks.

“Last year I did some informal ‘reverse shadowing’ and attended several DLA Energy introductory courses,” Moser said. “The courses taught contract specialists the finer details of the procurement programs in which they work. Given the non-attribution aspect of the classes, the students and instructors openly discussed issues and challenges; topics of significance that would never reach my level. The insight I gained allowed me to make better-informed decisions.”

Energy shadowing and mentorship programs are designed to provide individuals a “behind the scenes” look at the challenges, issues and decision-making processes of senior leadership, he said.

“The program empowers individuals to share their knowledge and insights and help the broader enterprise understand the full picture,” Miller said. “For example, they learn about the urgency of the DLA audit effort and better understand why we must capture the evidential matter and prove our policies and oversight processes are sound.”

Following in Moser’s footsteps, Beach attended high-level senior meetings on acquisition, audit and other business unit concerns.

“I observed collaboration, plans and impacts across DLA Energy leadership hierarchy and their perspective, being from wider lenses, was very informative and purposeful,” Beach said. “Overall, it was an invigorating experience that provided me a deeper understanding of the aspects of DLA Energy operations in the acquisition field.”

DLA Energy Career Management Specialist Frankie Silver is the program manager for the DSO Rotational Program.

“The main purpose of job shadowing is professional development, but there are many other reasons why the acquisition profession should engage in the practice,” Silver said. “It exposes participants to global DLA Energy operations, introduces them to various leadership styles and gives a different perspective on day-to-day operations.”

Beach is amongst two other DSO employees who are also paving the pathway to success under the DSO rotational program. Christina Hill and Norma Birch finished their six-month rotation with Supply Chain and Small Business Office, April 19.

“My participation in DLA Energy’s DSO rotational program, while assigned to the Energy’s Small Business office, was a career rewarding opportunity,” Birch said. “I am now able use my newfound knowledge of the small business functional area to augment my contracting toolbox.”

Hill shadowed DLA Energy Supply Chain Management Director Keith Stedman for two days in February and the DLA Energy Inventory Accountability Division Chief William Pollak for another two days.

“I was able to observe different levels of critical thinking in several meetings ranging from a typical supervisor staff meeting to a high-level meeting with DLA Energy Supplier Operations Director Gabriella Earhardt,” Hill said. “It was inspiring to see how and why decisions are made at a senior level. Throughout this experience, I was able to see how the supply chain process works from an internal aspect, which has given me a new enterprise perspective that cultivates a higher level of strategic thinking.”

Hill said her rotational supervisor, DLA Energy Inventory Compliance Chief Dan Bard, was instrumental in allowing her to immerse herself in policy and compliance procedures.

“During this training, I attended a site visit at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, where I gained operational experience of receiving fuel shipments via barge, refueling jets, gauging fuel tanks and assessing inventory compliance in accordance with DLA policy,” she said. “Overall, this has been an invaluable, career-broadening experience.”

Employee development is an integral part of DLA Energy’s culture that strengthens the workforce and aligns directly with the DLA People and Cultural Strategic Plan.