Pictured from left to right: Lt. Col. Olric Wilkins, TWI participant; Bill Phillips (LTG, USA, RET), former ASA(ALT) military deputy; and Lt. Col. Raaen Stewart, TWI participant
by Ltc. Col. Olric Wilkins
The Training with Industry (TWI) program is growing up and out. As mandated by Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, the TWI program is tripling in size. The year-long work-experience program gives top-performing officers extended exposure to industry management techniques, best practices and technological innovations.
After working onsite with one of the corporate participants, TWI participants then return to the Army and apply their new or improved skills. This direct contact with DOD industry partners strengthens and streamlines the acquisition bond, and ultimately everyone wins, including the warfighter. Throughout this year, the DACM Newsletter will be tracking some of the 30 current TWI participants to learn about their TWI experience.
In this issue, we profile Lt. Col. Olric Wilkins, who is more than a quarter of the way through his assignment at Boeing in Huntsville, Alabama.
What is your current assignment?
Boeing. I am currently conducting a rotation with the sales and field marketing office.
How is the program going?
While it is still early in the TWI rotation, the program is going well. Thanks to Boeing’s incredible Human Resources department, the onboarding process went extremely smoothly. Boeing has developed a detailed rotational plan that will allow me to experience the full breadth of their Huntsville operation.
What has been the most rewarding part so far?
Gaining insight on industry’s perspective when it comes to business development as well as their perspective concerning the Army’s modernization effort and industry’s strategic response to engaging with new stakeholders like Army Futures Command and the cross-functional teams.
How has the program met your expectations so far?
The program has exceeded my expectations. Boeing has provided a level of openness that truly supports all my learning objectives going into the program.
What are you most excited about for the rest of your experience?
I’m scheduled to conduct a rotation with Boeing’s Research and Technology group. I’m looking forward to seeing how a company like Boeing conducts technology maturation and transfers nascent technology into full-fledged products.
What is one difference you have noticed about industry compared to the military?
I’m truly impressed by Boeing’s focus on talent management and personnel development. Boeing has several different initiatives to develop their workforce, compared to the military’s one-size-fits-all approach.
What would you say to someone who is considering applying to the TWI program?
I would highly recommend the TWI program. I truly believe that the exposure to industry can provide useful insights that will result in becoming a much more effective acquisition officer and an overall more effective leader.
What is one thing you wish someone had told you about the program beforehand?
In order to reduce surprises, it was extremely helpful to engage with the incumbent TWI fellow prior to reporting to my fellowship. He was able to provide valuable insight that made my transition as smooth as possible. I would recommend starting this cross-talk as early as possible.
This article is published in the October 2019 issue of the DACM Newsletter.
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