Civilian contracting professional development symposium

By August 8, 2017September 1st, 2018Events
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By Giselle Whitfield
Acquisition Proponent for Program Management, Contracting, Information Technology, Facilities Engineering and Small Business

The director for procurement policy for the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Procurement) (DASA-P) hosted a Civilian Professional Development Symposium June 22 at the Defense Acquisition University. Speakers included Brig. Gen. Michael Hoskin, acting director of DASA-P, with an overview of civilian contracting professional and leader development, including lessons learned for success, benefits of counseling, and the importance of work-life balance.

Ms. Steffanie Easter, the Army acquisition executive, provided the audience with the four C’s of contracting: commitment, communication, collaboration and courage. She stated that a contracting professional should be committed to being the best professional they can be, which could include accepting a developmental assignment or a rotational assignment. Ultimately, a consummate professional should make up their mind to do what it takes.

Ms. Easter emphasized the importance of effective communication in order to get the job done and recommended practicing communicating, joining Toast Masters, writing clearly and getting the point across. She stated that collaboration and relationship building is key for a contracting professional, stressing that it is helpful to be likeable and approachable. After an example of an incident when she had to exercise personal courage, she reiterated that a contracting professional has to have a value base, a good moral foundation, and has to speak up, stand up and do what’s right. Ms. Easter skillfully elaborated on how using the tools will help contracting professionals excel in the acquisition workforce.

ms easter

Steffanie Easter, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology shares her “four ‘C’s” to leader development with U.S. Army contracting professionals during the first civilian professional development seminar at Defense Acquisition University’s Fort Belvoir campus on June 22, 2017. Easter emphasizes that becoming a better leader requires commitment, the ability to communicate, collaborating with others, and having courage to stand up for what you know is right. U.S. Army photo by Tara Clements, U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communications Outreach


A “What Do You Wish You Knew Earlier In Your Career” panel discussion was moderated by Ms. Kim Buehler, DASA-P; with Ms. Ann Castiglione-Cataldo, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for defense exports and cooperation (DASA-DEC); Mr. Stuart Hazlett, director of contracting for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Mr. John Lyle, deputy to the commanding general of the U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC); and Ms. Kristan Mendoza, executive director of ACC-Warren, Michigan. The audience was encouraged to ask questions of the expert Senior Executive Service panel, and the interaction was robust. Later, Ms. Lisa Rycroft of Chief, Civilian Training and Leader Development Division HQDA DCS G-3/5/7 Training Directorate, provided insight on competitive professional development; Mr. Edmund Shaw, division chief, ASA (Manpower & Reserve Affairs), Civilian Senior Leader Management Office (CSLMO), spoke on the Senior Enterprise Talent Management and Enterprise Talent Management (SETM/ETM) programs; and Ms. Elisa Nelson, Civilian Workforce Transformation and Emerging Enterprise Leader Program Manager Office of the Assistant G-1 for Civilian Personnel HQDA, briefed the audience on the Emerging Enterprise Leader Program. Brig. Gen. Hoskin closed the symposium by asking the attendees to provide feedback on the topics of discussion and submit ideas for the next event.

Forums like this are a great way to have a two-way conversation with the workforce. Based on feedback from attendees and comments throughout the session, Hoskin intends to host other CPD symposiums soliciting topics and potential changes to the format from the contracting workforce.

Giselle Whitfield is the Acquisition Proponent for Program Management, Contracting, Information Technology, Facilities Engineering and Small Business. She is Level III certified in contracting and in program management.

The civilian acquisition career model


Example: The career model for the program management Acquisition Career Field (ACF) is shown above.

The Army DACM Office developed civilian career models for each ACF designed to provide a career management framework for civilian AAW members to use in planning their education, training and experience requirements. The models are similar to the career models used by the military acquisition workforce. The civilian ACF models cover key areas to promote balanced career development and are intended as notional guides for professional growth and a well-rounded ACF experience. Not every opportunity presented in the career models is required, nor is each opportunity suited for everyone. The models include leader development, acquisition program opportunities, typical ACF assignments, some key competencies, DAWIA professional development and civilian education requirements. In planning an acquisition career, civilian AAW members should work with their supervisors to develop and apply an individual yet overarching strategic individual development plan based on evolving mission, vision and goals.

The overarching ACF model concepts include the following:

  • Mentoring is an important element in professional development and should occur throughout your entire career.
  • Developmental opportunities exist at every grade and at all command and organizational levels.
  • ACF-specific professional certifications are an additional level of professional recognition regarding a specific body of knowledge—Business Finance Certified Defense Financial Manager Certification, for example, or the DOD Financial Managers certification program.

The model shows typical assignments you may be interested in at each grade level, the acquisition competencies associated with them, the education and DAWIA professional development requirements, and leader development training to guide you through the functional experience, broadening, and strategic leadership portion of your acquisition career. It is not intended to be used as a checklist because everyone’s path will be a little different.

The Army DACM Office works with subject matter experts from the field to keep the career models updated and current. You may access all ACF models by visiting the Army DACM Office website and locating Civilian Career Planning Steps under Career Development

This article was published in the July 2017 issue of the DACM Newsletter.

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