Maj. John Weissenborn, second from the left, with 2018-2019 TWI fellows and Ford Motor Co. employees at the Ford Motor Company. With Weissenborn are Lt. Col. Sheila Howell, front row, center, former TWI coordinator; and TWI fellows Maj. Desiree Dirige, front row, second from right; Maj. Ji Oh, front row, right; Lt. Col. Edward Gutierrez, back row, center; Lt. Col. Beau Barker, back row, third from right; Maj. Christopher Thomas, back row, second from right; and Maj. Pedro Pacheco, back row, right. Next to Pacheco is Matt Munster, TWI sponsor at Sierra Nevada Corp. (Photo courtesy of Maj. John Weissenborn)
Maj. John Weissenborn
ACQUISITION CAREER FIELD: 51A
YEARS OF SERVICE IN THE WORKFORCE: 6
YEARS OF MILITARY SERVICE: 16
DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Program Management, Level III
EDUCATION: M.A. in criminal justice, American Military University B.S. in systems engineering, University of Virginia
Meet Maj. John Weissenborn from Headquarters, Department of the Army, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, Resource, Analysis and Integration Directorate in Arlington, Virginia. Weissenborn participated in Training With Industry and was assigned to the F-35 Autonomic Logistics Information System Project Office while on a one-year detail at Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems in Orlando, Florida. His corporate experience was more than just learning the latest buzzwords, and he is applying the newfound knowledge and skills to his work with HQDA.
What course or professional development activity did you participate in? When did you start and when did you complete it?
I participated in the Training With Industry (TWI) program at Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems from July 2018 to June 2019 in Orlando, Florida. As a 51A [on the] program management career track, I worked as software development project manager for the F-35 Autonomic Logistics Information System.
What was your primary motivation for taking the course?
My primary motivation for participating in the TWI program was to enhance my skillset by experiencing, firsthand, how a defense contractor fulfills contract requirements. The TWI program offers a unique opportunity to gain valuable insight and perspective from our industry partners.
What were your expectations of the program or course before you started, and how did they change as the course proceeded?
I expected the transition into Lockheed Martin to be easier after serving in various project management positions (with the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications – Tactical (PEO C3T) and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) within the military. Although the same principles apply, the learning curve associated with the various corporate systems, the exposure to Agile software development methodologies and earned value was more difficult than expected. However, the co-workers and team I worked with at Lockheed Martin could not have been more supportive and helpful. They were accommodating in providing formal and on-the-job training to ensure I grasped the skills necessary to make positive contributions to the organization.
What were your top three takeaways from the course?
The TWI experience provided me a better understanding of how contracts can help or hinder industry’s ability in meeting government requirements. I also have a greater appreciation for the complexity of large DOD programs, especially software-intensive systems, and the associated talent required to deliver a quality product. Lastly, I have a better understanding of the value of establishing metrics to track cost, schedule and performance throughout all phases of a contract.
What skills, knowledge or experiences from the course do you expect to apply most, in your job or outside of work?
Ensuring open and candid communication between the government and industry to create a shared understanding of contract requirements and long-term strategy. Similar to the military, this experience has highlighted the importance of leadership, team building and creating a culture of accountability.
Tell us about your experience with the course and your classmates. Were there fellow students or instructors that you bonded with and with whom you plan to keep in touch?
I worked within the same project office in Lockheed Martin, which afforded me the opportunity to establish lasting relationships with various co-workers. I worked with a variety of personnel, including program managers, engineering program managers, software developers and systems engineers. Additionally, TWI fellows are assigned a company sponsor who helps facilitate the TWI experience and ensures that participants are meeting training objectives. I plan to stay in touch with a number of co-workers and my sponsor.
How has this course affected your career?
Before participating in the TWI program, “Agile” and “DevOps” were simply buzzwords. I have a greater appreciation for the complexity of software development programs and the interaction required between government—including feedback from service members—and contractors to deliver a quality product. This experience has also enhanced my understanding of earned value, risk management, scheduling and software development metrics.
Who would you recommend this course to, and why?
TWI is a unique experience that offers benefits to both the Army and industry. I highly recommend this opportunity to enhance an individual’s understanding and exposure to the life as a defense contractor. I am on the 51A program management career track, and I wanted to experience what a program manager in industry faces when executing a government contract. I had firsthand exposure to earned value management, control account management, baselining programs, scheduling, organizing teams, and Agile software development methodologies.
Briefly describe what you do in your position and why it’s important to the Army or the warfighter. In addition to having the opportunity to support Soldiers, what’s the greatest satisfaction you have in being a part of the Army Acquisition Workforce?
I currently serve on the Army Staff within the G-3. In this position, I support the Army through program objective memorandum planning tasks and prioritization recommendations, ensuring that senior leaders have the information to make decisions. The Army Acquisition Corps provides a unique opportunity to work with a wide range of individuals in a variety of different positions with one common goal: supporting the Soldier by providing the best equipment. My greatest satisfaction is being part of these organizations that solve complex problems to deliver the best possible equipment.
How did you become part of the Army Acquisition Workforce, and why? What was your first acquisition position, and what appealed to you about the work?
I transferred into the Army Acquisition Workforce in 2013 through the Voluntary Transfer Incentive Program after completing company command. The Army Acquisition Corps appealed to me because of the various opportunities to shape and influence the equipment Soldiers receive. I saw firsthand through a number of deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom both the successes and failures of newly fielded equipment. My first acquisition assignment was with Operational Test Command in Fort Hood, Texas. This experience highlighted the complexity and importance of operational testing prior to fielding equipment. Subsequent assignments included assistant product manager in PEO C3T and an assistant project manager at DISA for the Joint Regional Security Stack program.
TRY Training with industry!
The next TWI cohort opens up for applications in summer 2020. Curious about applying to TWI the next time around? It’s never too early to begin putting your application together.
To start, visit the TWI home page at https://asc.army.mil/web/career-development/programs/aac-training-with-industry/.
If you have questions about applying to the TWI program, please contact your assignment officer. For general questions about TWI, contact Maj. Saleem Khan, proponency officer and the Army DACM Office TWI program manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-664-5716.
Also, take a few minutes to read “Career Navigator: Apply, Learn and Conquer” in Army AL&T. The article includes tips and other valuable TWI insights. And, for another insider’s perspective, check out the article “TWI, Worth It”.
This article is published in the January 2020 issue of the DACM Newsletter.
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