Collaboration really is at work between federal employees and their industry counterparts. The great news? The partnerships are totally above board. Every year the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT -IAC) creates a program called Voyagers. The program embeds one government employee within a contractor -- or vice versa -- for a nine-month stint.
In our continuing series looking at ACT-IAC’s Voyagers program, Chris Dorobek sat down with two current Voyagers fellows, Ryan Kauzlick, Senior Director at BRMi and Mittal Desai, CISA, Deputy Chief Information Security Office at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The goal of the Voyagers program is to cultivate the next generation of leaders in both private and public sector. “It really provides a training tool and resources that improve your professional development as a person,” said Desai. “I got involved because a lot of our senior management here are involved in ACT-IAC and they highly encouraged me to be in this program to build my professional development skills.”
There are currently 24 teams – or flight crews – in the Voyagers class. The teams share insights and collaborate between the sectors. “Right before this interview, we were talking about what we were going to say and even then Mittal was giving me some advice on the best way to approach this conversations,” said Kauzlick.
Oftentimes people in government look to industry as tantamount to a, “Luke I am your father” scenario, where industry is something like the Death Star. And industry views government in much the same way.
“I run the day-to-day security operations at Federal Energy Regulator Commission,” said Desai. “I have a government perspective of how we handle federal policies and mandates, but working with Ryan and putting myself in his shoes, gives me a good perspective of how they’re dealing with challenges… it helps us alleviate the issues between a government person or industry person and how we can better work together to collaborate to help reach a solution for a lot a these initiatives that we work on.”
The nine-month program combines classroom, lecture type, work and social programs. “We’ve done a lot of breakfasts, bringing in government and industry leaders to understand how they handle situations,” said Desai. “We do workshops to understand our personality traits. How do we work on our areas of strength? How do we work on our area of improvement? I’ve really learned a lot about myself, my management style and how I can do things a little differently to be a better value add, not only to my organization, but in general just to be a better professional.”
“I think this program actually puts you into an uncomfortable situation, to force you to ask, ‘How can I improve, and what are those little things that can make me a stronger leader?’” said Kauzlick. “We don’t just want to be managers – we want to be leaders.”