Expanding horizons: TADs gain ARL corporate perspective
April 04, 2017
By Tracie R. Dean, ARL Public Affairs
- TAD positions are developmental assignments that provide qualified employees an opportunity to gain valuable ARL experience in the office of the Director.
- TADs serve as an integral part of ARL. As a member of the ARL director's executive staff, TADs assist in establishing and evaluating strategic initiatives and laboratory policies, support ODIR requested studies, and serve as an ARL liaison with government organizations, industry, and academia.
Are you looking to expand your horizons beyond your current work station? Are you interested in gaining a better understanding of how the U.S. Army Research Laboratory functions at the corporate level?
If you responded with a "yes" to these questions, then serving as a Technical Assistant to the Director (TAD) is a unique opportunity to gain valuable work experience and enhance your knowledge about the full range of ARL operations.
TAD positions are developmental assignments that provide qualified employees an opportunity to gain valuable ARL experience in the office of the Director.
TADs serve as an integral part of ARL. As a member of the ARL director's executive staff, TADs assist in establishing and evaluating strategic initiatives and laboratory policies, support ODIR requested studies, and serve as an ARL liaison with government organizations, industry, and academia.
ARL Acting Director Dr. Philip Perconti discussed the value to the overall ARL mission by adding an Executive Officer/Technical Assistant to the Director position to his support staff.
"The XO/TAD bring great value to the Office of the Director; their knowledge and expertise are utilized to best showcase ARL's research to the external community," Perconti said. "They make recommendations that shape the technical portion for VIP visits and work on developing content for my presentations.
"I also solicit their opinions on a variety of situations that contribute to the execution of the technical strategy for the lab." Perconti encourages individuals who may be on the fence about applying for the XO/TAD position to use the experience as an opportunity to learn a lot about what occurs behind the scenes from a leadership perspective and adds "It is a unique experience that I encourage for all emerging leaders."
Two current ARL employees who now serve as TADs are Dr. Tanya Chantawansri and Dr. Ed Habtour.
Chantawansri serves as the Executive Officer and Technical Assistant to the ARL Director and Habtour serves as the Technical Assistant to the Chief Scientist.
Chantawansri is a chemical engineer from the WMRD whose expertise is focused on computational modeling of polymers. She applied for the TAD position to expand her knowledge about ARL research that was not associated her current job duties.
Chantawansri said she enjoys being a TAD, noting that the position is very challenging and involves quick response and multitasking. "You (get a chance to) feel the impact of your hard work daily which makes the position very rewarding," she said.
Among her responsibilities, Chantawansri assists with developing strategy and technical approaches for ARL's research and analysis portfolio.
"I am able to better understand how things work behind the scene and I have a greater appreciation of everything that goes into making ARL the premier laboratory for land forces," Chantawansri said.
After attending several town hall meetings, Habtour recognized ARL's commitment to transforming the culture to an environment for fostering intellectual growth and scientific curiosity. He was inspired by ARL leadership that encouraged employees to actively participate in shaping the future of the laboratory.
"The words I heard during these meetings confirmed my belief that having an innovative idea is not sufficient enough if the environment for empowering and nourishing innovative ideas is not strong enough. The powerful words of our leadership ignited my desire to serve and be part of ARL's new culture."
Habtour is the Prognostics and Diagnostics Team lead in ARL's Vehicle Technology Directorate where he is involved building multidisciplinary efforts and symbiotic collaborations across various organizations. His work has been helpful in providing support in shaping ARL's nine Essential Research Areas (ERAs) that derived during the S&T campaigns synchronization.
Commenting on the various tasks and responsibilities combined in his role as TAD, Habtour noted..."I am learning how to develop technical strategies for building research programs to ensure the US Army's strengths and superiority in all domains and how to identify the natural connections in ARL research portfolio for integration into Army relevant research prototype concepts."
The consensus from these two TADs is that their developmental assignments have been challenging but also enriching and rewarding. Some of the highlights of the position include the opportunity to receive extensive and focused mentorship and expanding your network with a highly diverse cross-section of senior leaders, managers and technical professionals in the S&T community.
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory, currently celebrating 25 years of excellence in Army science and technology, is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.