Robert E. Coultas
The U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC) Competitive Development Group/Army Acquisition Fellowship (CDG/AAF) Program graduated six Fellows and inducted 13 at its Orientation, Induction, and Graduation March 7-9, 2011.
CDG/AAF is a 3-year leadership program that offers board-selected individuals leadership training, developmental assignments, and mentoring to gain experience and knowledge that prepare them to fill future critical acquisition positions and key leadership positions.
“You personally have to choose what your experience is going to be,” said Craig A. Spisak, Deputy Director, Acquisition Career Management and Director, USAASC, in advising the Fellows on how to succeed. “You have to take experiential opportunities and say, ‘I’m going to learn something. I’m going to do everything they ask me today. I’m going after challenges to prove to people who don’t know me that I am a superstar.’ ”
At the three-day forum, graduating and mid-term Fellows shared their developmental assignment experiences, while new inductees learned about expectations for their rotation into the program. Year Group (YG) 2008 graduate Todd P. Pesicek began his fellowship program assignment at Program Executive Office Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation. “I’ve made quite a few contacts over the past three years, developed a lot of leadership skills, and got a lot of excellent training from the [University of Virginia] Darden School of Business,” he said.
Pesicek also completed an Excellence in Government program and was later assigned to the U.S. Army Materiel Command. “I work with the Army Prepositioned Stock [APS]. I had a chance to go overseas to Japan where I was responsible for APS-4, which included areas in Japan, Korea, and Hawaii,” he said, also advising the new YG11 selectees to “take the challenging assignments, build a network of contacts, keep a balance in life, and to work hard, but play hard.”
The event culminated with a graduation dinner, where honored guest speaker Kevin M. Fahey, Program Executive Officer Combat Support and Combat Service Support, congratulated the Fellows and offered advice on achieving a successful leadership career. “I believe this is the best development plan in the Army because it is perfect for this time in your career to broaden your job skills,” he said.
Fahey told the Fellows to keep focusing on their job throughout their careers, because circumstances can change from year to year that could change their priorities. “What you thought last year you would be doing next year probably will be different this year. You may have learned something different that is more exciting to you. Your parents may be getting old and have to be taken care of, so then your priority would be at home,” he said.
You are the future leaders of the Acquisition Corps. If you don’t ask the right questions to the right person now, you won’t be able to lead this Acquisition Corps in the future.
Fahey emphasized that the Fellows should never focus on getting promoted. “I’ve known people whose only focus was to be a SES [Senior Service Executive], and today they are not because that was their only focus,” he said. “Your focus has to be on the job you want to do and doing a good job.”
Fahey also recommended that the Fellows always ask questions. “There are no stupid questions. The only stupid one is the one you don’t ask,” he reiterated. “You are the future leaders of the Acquisition Corps. If you don’t ask the right questions to the right person now, you won’t be able to lead this Acquisition Corps in the future.”
Build a strong core competency, focus daily on future career opportunities, and always keep the warfighter in mind, he said. “It’s pretty easy to get caught up in your organization’s mission and vision, but for me it’s simple. My focus is always on the warfighter. … Work as if your life depends on it, because theirs do,” Fahey concluded.
- ROBERT E. COULTAS is the Army AL&T Magazine Departments Editor and an Army AL&T Online Editor. He is a retired Army broadcaster with more than 35 years of combined experience in public affairs, journalism, broadcasting, and advertising. Coultas has won numerous Army Keith L. Ware Public Affairs Awards and is a DOD Thomas Jefferson Award recipient.