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Leadership program helps hone briefing skills

Leadership program helps hone briefing skills

Story by Debra Valine on 03/15/2019

NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. — It’s never easy getting in front of people for the first time to present a briefing, as employees participating in the Security Assistance Command’s New Cumberland location’s Mentorship Program have learned.

Eleven employees mentees briefed leadership Feb. 19 and 25 and March 7 as part of a yearlong mentor program, now in its second year.

According to Jewel “Ann” Scott, chief of the Services and Products Division at New Cumberland, the mentees worked with their mentors to pick a topic from the overarching theme of, “Areas where Security Assistance processes in general could be improved” or “where USASAC Security Assistance processes in particular could be improved.”

“Most of the mentees had not presented briefings in the past, and almost all were dreading it for that reason. They were uncomfortable with PowerPoint, public speaking and presenting ideas in front of their peers,” Scott said.

Wendy Forney and Mike Hurley, both logistics management specialists, explored training in their briefings Feb. 25 in front of the 10 mentors. Maj. Gen. Jeff Drushal, USASAC commander, attended several of the briefings.

“To the mentees’ credit, they did not let the CG’s presence throw them off their game,” Scott said.

Forney emphasized the importance of orientation, initial training, management training and refresher, remedial, advanced and new equipment training.

She suggested providing new employees with a welcome briefing to present the USASAC history from creation to present, cover work schedules, flex time, telework, leave usage requirements and mandatory training.

“This orientation will work as a strong foundation for an ever-growing relationship,” Forney said.

Following the orientation, she said there is a need for initial training that gives the newcomer an overall picture of the foreign military sales lifecycle, provides needed cross-cultural training and discusses disclosure.

“Skills that build a winning workforce begin with basic knowledge,” she said. She listed topics such as reading an FMS case, creating and reading a requisition, transportation, how various computer systems work, and how to complete timesheets in the Automated Time and Attendance Production System or ATAAPS.

Forney said the ultimate result from her briefing would be that an Orientation/Training Branch would be set up that would teach new employees about USASAC, their job and how their job fits in the big FMS lifecycle picture.

For his briefing, Hurley discussed various leadership and other professional development courses such as training on case management, case reconciliation and closure, logistics support and financial management.

“I chose a topic that I felt needed to be addressed to leadership as we are failing to prepare team members that don’t know the job,” Hurley said. “I think we have an opportunity to set the bar very high as USASAC has the ability and the people with the knowledge to get this accomplished.”

Other training options available are through the yearly mandatory training and the Total Employee Development, Joint Knowledge Online and Army Learning Management System websites.

Hurley said he hopes leadership implements technical and on-the-job training as the result of his briefing.

Briefing isn’t the only skill taught to mentees since this cohort started the program in late April 2018.

“The mentees have written information papers and several of them wrote scripts and videotaped 30-second spots about How I contribute to Army readiness,'” Scott said.

Lunch and learns have included “The DOD 101,” “Resiliency” and “The USASAC Hiring Process.” Another session discussed resume writing with an expert from Carlisle Barracks March 11, she said.

“Several mentees (and mentors) are helping plan a leader development trip for April 12 to Arlington National Cemetery. We’re developing the itinerary for that trip now, coordinating the logistics and getting the pre-trip readings together.

“Before the trip we’ll host a lunch and learn roundtable to talk about the different leadership styles of some of the notables who are buried at Arlington,” Scott said. Candidates are Ambassador William Donovan, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Presidents William Howard Taft and John Kennedy, entrepreneur and inventor George Westinghouse, and Gen. John Pershing.

“We have a good mix of styles to discuss,” she said.

Scott said for their Capstone project, the mentees will receive training on decision briefings and then get paired into groups to work on a group decision briefing.

“That’s always interesting, because there are some who are more vested in the project than others, but they have to work as a team and pull it all together.”

The Mentorship Program supports USASAC’s efforts to professionalize its FMS workforce and prepare employees for advancement.

The final event will be an awards ceremony and mentor-hosted dinner.

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