Tuesday, June 7, 2011

ECBC’s PRIDE Program Offers Workforce New Career Development Opportunities

2011 PRIDE participants from left to right: Evalena Foster,
Dominique McClain and Troy Thompson.

Since its strategy development process began in 2005, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s (ECBC) Engineering Directorate staff has remained engaged in the Directorate’s strategic planning efforts because the strategy itself is relevant and accessible. Just ask Roderick A. Fry, Ph.D., ECBC Chemist and a team member on one of the Engineering strategy’s newest initiatives – the Progressive Rotational Inter-Divisional Exchange (PRIDE) Program.

“The PRIDE program exemplifies the kind of practical application and growth initiatives that are offered via the Engineering Balanced Scorecard strategic management process,” Fry said. “It decentralizes the Directorate’s strategic planning, allowing the workforce to bring ideas like PRIDE to leadership for consideration, develop the program and receive the needed buy-in and support from senior management.”

The structure of the Engineering strategy calls for continuous efforts to educate individuals about strategic initiatives and these initiatives seek to improve daily operations for the workforce — including a specific initiative like PRIDE that provides ECBC’s “rising stars” the opportunity for career development and to gain valuable perspective within the Center.

Currently, PRIDE is designed for GS-11/12s in the CP-16 career field to gain diversified experience within the Engineering Directorate. It consists of two consecutive six-month rotational assignments in branches outside of the employee’s current division.

PRIDE kicked off its first pilot rotation on May 11 with a formal presentation of the program made by Engineering Executive Officer Vicky Bevilacqua. At the meeting, Bevilacqua introduced ECBC leadership to the first three PRIDE participants: Evalena Foster from the Joint Service Collective Protection Branch, Dominique McClain from the  Electronic Design and Integration Branch and Troy Thompson from the Decontamination Engineering Branch.

“The idea is that participants will return to their home branch with diversified knowledge and experience that will ultimately better serve ECBC’s customers,” Bevilacqua said.

The idea for the program was birthed out of a 2010 ECBC Leadership Cohort project. Bevilacqua and Fry are two of the six PRIDE team members who helped design the program and now voluntarily manage it. Other members include Engineering’s Mark Ciampaglio and Michael Palko, and Directorate of Program Integration’s Nancy Pusey and Elaina Taylor. Realizing the potential for the program, the team began circulating the idea amongst the Engineering Directorate’s strategic planning core team as a possible initiative. As a tangible means to execute against one of the BSC’s four key Perspectives – People, Learning and Growth – the BSC core team was quick to approve PRIDE as an official initiative under the strategy.

“This is the kind of strategic planning any organization’s leadership likes to see – initiatives whose inception begins with members of the workforce,” said Engineering Directorate Chief of the Strategic Planning and Business Operations Branch, Ed Bowen. “When this happens, there is a greater sense of ownership in the strategic planning process; it’s not just a mandate from leadership.”

The PRIDE team is following a phased approach to roll out the program. The first phase, a pilot rotation, began in May and will end May 2012. In Phase I the employee exchange takes place between three divisions in the Engineering Directorate. In Phase II, the program will broaden its scope and will incorporate exchanges within ECBC’s other directorates - Directorate of Program Integration and Research and Technology Directorate. Finally,
the hope is that in Phase III, perhaps three years down the road, PRIDE will allow for exchanges between the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense (JPEO-CBD) until the program evolves to exchanges between the JPEO-CBD and ECBC’s three Directorates.

“PRIDE offers numerous benefits not just for the employee, but for the Center,” Ciampaglio said. “Employees will be returning to their home branches with broadened perspectives and improved organizational awareness. And their expanded network will provide for improved customer service and greater opportunities for improved collaboration across divisions.”

According to McClain, a newcomer to ECBC, the potential for increased efficiency through the sharing of best practices is great.

“One of the things that attracted me to this program was the opportunity it created for the interchange of ideas and best practices. I see it as a chance to improve upon my current skill set, a new learning opportunity,” McClain said.
Foster has worked within the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s Engineering Directorate for eight years. When she filled out the personal application for PRIDE last year, she was eager to diversify her own career experience.

“I was looking to get more hands-on experience outside of my current scope of work, to network and to become more knowledgeable of the acquisition process as a whole” Foster said. “PRIDE was the perfect opportunity to do that.”

Thompson hopes to come away with a broadened perspective of ECBC and a greater sense of the diverse expertise offered within the Center.

“I wanted more exposure to the areas of expertise offered at ECBC. PRIDE offers me the ability to get that ‘big picture’ idea of what’s happening in the Center, and in turn will allow me to work more effectively within my home branch.”

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