FELLOWS FORMATION: TWI fellows line up in front of the Veterans Wall on Sept. 21 at Deloitte in Rosslyn, VA. (Photo by Rachel Berry, USAASC)
Training With Industry fellows learn how professional services company does business.
by Rachel Berry
Throughout the summer, several Army acquisition officers moved across the country and expanded their wardrobe to suits and perhaps a few T-shirts. They did this to spend the year working in organizations such as Rolls Royce, Deloitte, Ford Motors, Salesforce, Boeing and other organizations—all part of Army acquisition’s Training With Industry (TWI) program. The TWI program is a one-year work-experience training program designed to take selected officers out of the military environment and expose them to the latest commercial business practices, organizational structures and cultures, technology development processes, and the latest corporate management techniques.
These acquisition officers recently came together on Sept. 21 at the Deloitte offices in Rosslyn, Virginia, to have a deep dive look into how Deloitte operates as a professional services firm, providing audit and assurance, consulting, risk and financial advisory, risk management, tax and related services. The firm’s work includes responding to industry and government’s need for solutions on complex problems, including how 5G would impact both sectors. Since the TWI fellows are placed at different types of organizations, including manufacturing, technology products, etc., the day was an invaluable opportunity to discover more about this specific business sector. The event was also designed to provide opportunities for the TWI fellows to network with one another. Through these conversations, best practices were shared on how the TWI fellows have navigated their program so far, including how to network within their company and what kind of work they have observed so far.
Lt. Col. Aron Hauquitz, the TWI fellow at Deloitte, coordinated the day along with members of the Deloitte team. The agenda included conversations with senior Deloitte leaders about conducting business with the government, a “business chemistry” exercise, presentations on human capital and technology trends, and tours of Deloitte’s interactive meeting centers for human capital and technology challenges.
Throughout the morning, the TWI fellows learned about Deloitte’s work from leaders across their defense organization. Deloitte hosted a panel of five former military professionals who now lead projects at Deloitte. The panel discussed how industry and government work together to solve problems. Maj. Bill Perez, one of the TWI fellows in attendance, found the panel very insightful. He appreciated that it’s “not every day you get to ask a senior leader for their opinion. It was a rare and good opportunity.” He also noted that Deloitte was “in tune with the acquisition process and subsequent challenges that officers face because of the complexity of the acquisition process.”
Deloitte facilitated a work personalities exercise that’s part of their Business Chemistry framework, a personality workshop designed by Deloitte to guide teams on how to work together. The TWI fellows completed a pretest to slate them into one of the four personality types: Pioneer, Guardian, Driver and Integrator. The TWI fellows were then grouped according to their dominant type and completed an exercise as a team. The facilitator used this exercise to display how the personality types work and how different types can best work together. TWI fellow Lt. Col. Michael Keatley observed that the “exercise is beneficial to become more self-aware and can increase your ability to work with people different from you.”
Every year Deloitte conducts comprehensive surveys to capture and create reports on the current human capital and technology trends that industry can use to prepare for challenges and opportunities. The Deloitte reports’ researchers shared insights with the TWI fellows and led discussions on how these topics will impact the TWI fellows’ future command positions, including designing a solution by determining what outputs you want and then figuring what inputs can make that happen. Part of Deloitte’s human capital trends initiative focused on how work has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2022 technology trends that are most affecting industry included data-sharing made easy, block chain and using artificial intelligence to enhance cybersecurity. Lt. Col. Jed Zaffke found the technology trends to be “the most interesting section of the day,” as they are aligned to his TWI fellowship goal to learn how industry fosters innovation that can then be applied back to the Army.
Later in the afternoon, the TWI fellows toured two of Deloitte’s interactive meeting spaces: the Deloitte Greenhouse and the Deloitte Cyber Internet of Things Lab. In the Greenhouse, tour guides demonstrated different meeting tactics that encourage creativity and problem solving. One example included two bikes: One correctly set up and one set up backwards. When you pedal to go forward, it applies the brakes. If you turn the bike to the right, it goes left. Every operation of the bike works in the opposite way one would expect. The TWI fellows got to take turns trying to ride the backwards bike, which demonstrated how hard it is to decondition our brains. Deloitte uses this backwards bike at the beginning of meetings to encourage people to come with open minds and not resort to solving problems the way you always have. This tour was Maj. Jon Talis’ “favorite part of the day,” as he aspires to bring “these best practices back to the (Army) organization” and encourage creative problem-solving in his future command.
The TWI fellows have since returned to their TWI assignment location but, thanks to this engagement, they are now connected and will continue to network throughout their time in the program. They are expected to gather again in early 2023 for their midpoint trip and share what they have learned at their individual companies and take another deep dive into a different company. Once the TWI fellows complete their TWI assignment, they will return to the Army prepared to bring industry insight into their next assignment.
For more information on the Training With Industry program, go to https://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/aac-training-with-industry.
RACHEL BERRY is a communications analyst at the U. S. Army Acquisition Support Center office of the Director of Acquisition Career Management. She holds an M.P.S. in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a B.S. in hospitality management from James Madison University.