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News | June 16, 2017

DIA Senior Leaders Provide Career Advice at African-American Intel Summit

By DIA Public Affairs

Defense Intelligence Agency Special Advisor for Innovation Robert Dixon, Principal Deputy Director for Analysis Johnny Sawyer, and Chief Information Officer Janice Glover-Jones gave career advice at the fourth-annual African-American National Security and Intelligence Summit June 3 in Alexandria, VA.

The forum brought together more than 100 African-American intelligence professionals and senior leaders to discuss how to support, promote and advance competitiveness within senior levels of the national security enterprise and intelligence community.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has stated about 11 percent of the federal workforce are African-Americans; however, in the Intelligence Community that number drops to about three to four percent. The goal of the summit was to help inform career strategies and improve competitiveness for advancement in the intelligence community.

Intelligence professionals collect, analyze, and disseminate timely and relevant intelligence and provide context for the president, senior policy leaders and – specific to DIA - the warfighter. For this reason, the intelligence community must leverage diversity to ensure the most highly-skilled and critically-thinking workforce is able to meet the full range of modern and dynamic intelligence challenges.

OPM has identified five Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) which are required for entry into the Senior Executive Service and are used by many departments and agencies in selection for management and executive positions; these include performance management and leadership development abilities. The intelligence community recently added a sixth ECQ entitled Leading in the Intelligence Enterprise, focusing on the skills needed to increase collaboration and integration across the community and integrate the work one agency is doing with the work of other agencies.

In a seminar entitled “Inspirational Leadership – ECQ,” Dixon focused on the importance of results driven ECQs. He explained the key question that must be answered when writing the ECQs is “so what?” He advised the group that in their answers they must be able to detail and express what they have accomplished, the impact it has had on the organization, and how critical it was to the mission. Further, he explained the answers should never be just a regurgitation of a job description, rather how the results of their work had impact across the organization internally and externally.

In a seminar entitled “Workplace Executive Presence,” Sawyer discussed the process of competing for higher positions in the intelligence community. He pointed out that African-Americans and women tend to deselect themselves out of positions for which they are qualified.  He stated if the application requires five or six core competencies and the African-American or the woman potential applicant has three or even four, they usually do not apply; however, a Caucasian applicant who has fewer core competencies often focuses on those he has and how he can get to the others. He stressed that it is essential to take an approach of applying even if a person is missing one or two core competencies.

Sawyer pointed out that there will always be people who do not agree with you and may stand in your way, advising the audience to go around them rather than go through them. Finally, Sawyer passed along some sound advice from his father, “Always walk with purpose and look like you always have somewhere to be -- because you are always being watched.”

See more on DIA’s career and diversity information here:

DIA's mission is to provide intelligence on foreign militaries and operating environments that delivers decision advantage to prevent and decisively win wars. Nearly 50% of DIA's 16,500 employees are stationed outside Washington, DC at national intelligence centers, combatant commands, combat zones, and defense attaché offices worldwide in more than 140 countries.