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Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology



April/May 2010

Diversity/Careers April/May 2010 Issue

Women of color
Insurance IT
Aerospace & defense
Civil engineers
Fisher of CECOM
Black Engineer of the Year
MinneWIC conference

Veteran-owned suppliers
News & Views
NMBC gala
WBENC: ready to connect
Regional roundup
Supplier diversity

Diversity in action
News & Views

Ford Boston Scientific
National Radio Astronomy Observatory Rockwell Collins
Bonneville Power

Diversity In Action

The DLA plans to hire 100+ engineers and IT pros in 2010

A prime focus is the continuing effort to expand opportunities for minorities. Employees get two paid days a year to pursue their own volunteerism

Sitting down for serious discussion: from left, DLA HR director Sandra Miller, corporate recruiter Liz Vigil and Famia Magaña, director of EEO.The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is the largest logistics combat support organization in the Department of Defense (DOD). DLA provides worldwide logistics support to the military services in both peace and wartime, as well as to several civilian agencies and other countries. The agency sources and provides nearly all the consumable items America’s military forces need to operate, from food, fuel and energy to uniforms, medical supplies and construction and barrier equipment.

Last year an “equity in the workplace” initiative was launched at the DLA. There are now eighteen people tasked with identifying barriers to employment for four focus groups: women, African Americans, Hispanics and people with disabilities, says Liz Vigil, corporate recruiter.

“We’re focusing on workforce development and retention: how to train these people and make sure they feel part of an inclusive culture, one they’d like to be part of indefinitely,” Vigil says.

A DLA “equity in the workplace” group brainstorms ways to overcome barriers for the four focus groups. For example, members reach out to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, looking for applicants for the corporate intern program. The agency also goes to career fairs around Philadelphia, PA and Richmond, VA seeking interns.

As a federal employer, the DLA has also established special-emphasis programs for targeted Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) groups, including people with disabilities, women, Asian Pacific Islanders, American Indians, African Americans and Hispanics, says Famia J Magaña, director of EEO.

“Through these programs we do local activities targeted to improving the participation status
of employees at various locations,” Magaña says. “We’ve given our special-emphasis program managers the latitude to craft and develop programs that meet the needs of their local workforce.”

There are also local leadership councils that examine issues hindering the agency’s workforce development objectives, Magaña adds.

The diverse employees themselves find unique ways to reach out to others in their communities. A Native American employee team has made presentations complete with drumming exhibitions in Richmond area schools. During Hispanic Heritage Month Hispanic employees sponsor a fair for the entire workplace. And the Federal Women’s Program assists with a Christmas Angel Tree in Richmond.

Far from HQ, at the Battle Creek, MI DLA site, Hispanic employees volunteer at local schools throughout the year.

DLA plans to hire up to 120 engineers and IT pros in 2010, says Sandra Miller, staff director
for human capital program development and HR director. “Generally speaking, engineering jobs are open to anyone who is a citizen of the U.S.”

Of course engineering is not DLA’s core mission, so opportunities may be limited in that arena. The jobs that are available require people with five-plus years of experience, primarily ChEs and petroleum engineers who will work for the organization responsible for managing gas, oil and other energy products for the DoD. DLA engineers manage and analyze these programs throughout the DoD.

There are also some ChEs in Philadelphia. At the DLA facility there they ensure that the chemicals involved in making the war fighters’ uniforms and other troop support materials meet certain standards.

Used chemicals need to be disposed of, so the DLA’s property disposal specialists need a ChE background. The agency also has some CEs as facilities engineers.

Construction engineers evaluate the specs of products the agency buys for construction. Aviation engineers and tech staff help with the aviation supply chain. QA jobs are sometimes available.

In all its hiring decisions DLA follows standards set by the office of personnel, Magaña says. “But overall, you need a strong math background and a BS in engineering, or in CS for IT. Certifications are required for assurance manager and information security positions, and the ability to obtain a security clearance is important.”

Hiring plans are based on attrition rates, which take account of retirement eligibility and other factors. Congress is also requiring the DLA to do more on workforce planning.

To foster employees’ career advancement the DLA offers an enterprise leads development program, essentially a succession-planning program which gets into training, education and leadership development. “The idea is that we will equip our workforce to be successful wherever they are,” Magaña says. There’s another succession planning program called “corporate insurance,” and since it started in 2002 some 1,500 employees have graduated from it and are now in middle management jobs. There’s also a competitive executive development program.

Work/life balance is important to DLA. There’s a child care center at Fort Belvoir and at every field location. Many fitness centers are available. Some workers can opt for flextime, and teleworking opportunities are available. “The managers and the leadership are committed
to our employees,” Magaña says. “Some agencies are afraid of teleworking, but we pride ourselves on it and allow it for two to three days a week.” At some locations people can work nine or ten hour days and then get an extra day off.

Miller points out that “DLA provides ample opportunities for professionals to support the agency’s mission. We have a number of people with backgrounds in science, technology and math. Their jobs let them apply their skills to problems we face on a daily basis.

“DLA,” she concludes, “gives you meaningful work and the best chance to make a difference.”


Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)
Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)

Headquarters: Fort Belvoir, VA
Employees: 26,000
Revenues: approx $38 billion in 2009
Business: DoD’s combat logistics support agency

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