BY KARLA GABEL, NAVAL SUPPLY SYSTEMS COMMAND OFFICE OF PERSONNEL
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” –John F. Kennedy
Want to be successful in your career? Never stop learning. The November/December 2013 issue of The Navy Supply Corps Newsletter kicked off a series of interviews conducted by the Supply Corps Office of Personnel. This ongoing series of interviews with Supply Corps officers and civilian Supply Corps leaders focuses on career management and what it takes to achieve success in the Navy Supply Corps.
For each officer or other leader interviewed, continuous learning emerged as a major component for career success – learning in the classroom, from mentors, and on the job. Education is essential to achieving success and comes in many forms, including the classroom. In addition to obtaining bachelor’s and postgraduate degrees, the leaders interviewed in this series also participated in continuing education courses throughout their careers.
Educational opportunities align with a Supply Corps officer’s career stage and start at the Navy Supply Corps School (NSCS). Officers typically return to the NSCS for continued training at various points in their careers.
Mentors provide another great way to learn and keep your skills fresh. Mentors share their experiences, both good and bad, which provide the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. A quote attributed to Admiral Hyman G. Rickover sums it up nicely, “It is necessary for us to learn from others’ mistakes. You will not live long enough to make them all yourself.”
Be a willing apprentice and seek out multiple mentors, both in and out of the Supply Corps, as well as differing perspectives. Seek those who are high achievers and successful in their own careers. These mutually beneficial mentor-protégé relationships offer a learning experience for both parties.
You can learn by having a mentor and by being a mentor or teacher. Repeating what you have learned helps you retain it, so when you teach others what you know, you’re deepening your understanding of what you’re teaching.
Another way to keep learning is to accept a job outside of your comfort zone. Trying new things is part of learning and growing in your career. By working with fellow Supply Corps officers across the spectrum of functions we do and organizations we support, you can learn from them and gain a broader understanding of how Navy and Department of Defense supply systems work.
Take the toughest, most interesting, and most challenging job available to you and do it well. It’s not always possible to get the job you really want, but always keep an open mind and always give it your best. As one interviewee put it, “Not every job will be fun or interesting, but make the most of it because you never know what the long-term benefits or opportunities will be.”
As you continue in your career in the Navy Supply Corps, take advantage of all learning opportunities available to you. Make learning a lifelong priority.