ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – Thirteen emerging Army Civilian leaders graduated from Rock Island Arsenal – Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center’s Leadership Enhancement through Awareness Program Sept. 1.
The participants are the second cohort to complete the course designed to develop the skills of RIA-JMTC’s workforce from entry-level through senior supervisors.
“We wanted to have a mechanism to develop our leaders internally,” said Megan Schumacher, RIA-JMTC production engineering division chief and co-founder of LEAP. “Our goal is to invest in our people, encourage and motivate them to understand their strengths and provide them with a set of leadership tools.”
Graduates from the 2022 LEAP cohort include Peter Brautigam, Bethany Bredow, Craig Churchill, Anthony Funderburk, Philip Graham, Jonathan Helms, Gregory Hixson, Benjamin Holgersson, Cole Kraft, Shane Matson, Madlen McCabe, Jessica Ortiz and Justin Siem. RIA-JMTC’s greatest asset is its people – as the new LEAP graduates incorporate lessons from the course into their everyday work, the organization becomes stronger and more efficient.
The six-month program includes five weeks of full-time, in-person classes and exercises. In the intervening periods, students job shadow other positions throughout the factory that impact their own work, interview managers about their experiences guiding a team, read and present on a leadership-related book and participate in continuous process improvement events to increase operational efficiency.
The factory’s management instruct the classroom portion, discussing unit structure, interpersonal communication, funding processes and other intricacies involved with running a command of almost 800 people and a business baseline of more than $160 million. Participants hone their abilities in public speaking, writing and career development, with resume coaching and mock job interviews.
“LEAP as a whole helped me grow as a leader, but for me the biggest thing was public speaking,” said Shane Matson, RIA-JMTC’s investment casting maker supervisor. “I feel like I now have the confidence to communicate more efficiently with my team, peers, and upper management. It really motivated me to want to become a better leader and bring the positive energy back to my team.”
To ensure the organization continues to provide quality equipment for the warfighter, it needs welders, machinists, commodity managers and other professionals with strong communication and leadership skills just as much as it needs to grow its future directors, chiefs of staff and deputy commanders.
“It’s our senior leaders investing in our future senior leaders,” Schumacher said. “It’s not a supervisor class, it’s a leadership class. It doesn’t matter where you are in the organization, you’re a leader. I think everyone can take away tools from this experience.”
RIA-JMTC is a vertically-integrated manufacturer capable of taking raw metal and pliable materials and creating a finished product, all in one location. It features 16 major capabilities, including the U.S. Army’s premier foundry and the Center of Excellence for Advanced and Additive Manufacturing.
Successfully executing this mission requires strong teamwork and collaboration at every level.
“The Army is modernizing for the next war,” said Col. Shari Bennett, RIA-JMTC commander. “A war against a near-peer competitor on multiple domains – air, land, sea, space, cyber. We need leaders who are flexible, adaptable, able to navigate ambiguous environments. Everyone in the organization is a leader in some capacity.”
Just as the U.S. Army prepares for the challenges of tomorrow, RIA-JMTC is already planning for next group of developing leaders. Applications for the 2023 LEAP cohort will open later this fall.
Rock Island Arsenal – Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center develops, manufactures and delivers readiness solutions through conventional and advanced manufacturing processes for the U.S. Army and Department of Defense systems globally.