The Secret Society of Success? Collaboration

Secret societies have existed on college campuses for centuries. Yale’s Skull and Bones was founded at Yale University in 1832 and cites former presidents, Supreme Court justices and tycoons of business as members.


What’s the appeal of secret societies? Oftentimes, they push members to excel, and make them feel like a part of a team effort. 


Government doesn’t have any secret organization (or at least ones I know of), but ACT-IAC is trying something similar by creating a new environment for growth and collaboration. They call their program the Voyagers, and it’s aimed at providing young professionals, specifically those at the GS 7-11 levels and their industry counterparts a chance to collaborate on joint projects.  


Kent Taylor, Business Manager at GSA FEDSIM, and Madaleine Hillsberg, Senior Associate of ISYS Technologies are current members of the Voyagers program. They told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that Voyagers is more than just a leadership development program – it helps you get to the next step in your career.



In the Voyagers program you are able to talk to the other side [government and industry] and find out what their biggest issues are,” said Hillsberg. “You can see if there are ways we could address them and problem solve together.”


Just like the secret societies that pepper Yale and Harvard, the Voyagers program works by building a strong network of participants at different levels. “There are folks who are rising stars, folks who have management experience, and very senior leaders,” said Hillsberg.


Taylor agreed, “For me personally, the largest benefit that I’ve gained form this is the network. I think at one level, you have the cohort base where you’re really talking about the issues that you’re coming across. Then you have the former Voyagers and their managers in the network.”


The community and collaboration that comes from these public-private partnerships can also help dispel some of the rumors and stereotypes that exits between government and industry. “I would hope that most people who live in D.C. and are either working with the government, consulting to the government, or vending to the government, have seen that government employees are devoted to their mission. But a lot of people outside the network haven’t. This is a good opportunity to show that these relationships can work,” said Hillsberg.


You can register to be in the next Voyagers class here.

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