MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga -- Who would have thought a civil service employee from Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., would train in the White House? Probably no one. But Lydia Burch, logistics management specialist here, did.
Burch, a Newton, Ga., native, has 26 years of federal service under her belt, but no experience has been as thrilling as working in the Executive Office of the President for two months she said.
Burch is assigned to the Executive Leadership Program, which offers select government employees in grades GS-11 to GS-13 an opportunity to enhance their leadership and professional development skills in the maintenance, logistics and financial communities, among others.
Burch said when she found out that she had a chance to work in the White House she jumped on it with both feet.
"I had to submit a letter, resume and biography to the Executive Office of the President to apply for this assignment," Burch said. "After waiting and waiting for a response, I thought I had been passed over so I found other assignments in Huntsville [Ala.] and Quantico [Va.].
"When a woman with the president's office called and told me I had been selected, I thought it was a joke. After holding the phone for a while and not hearing any laughter on the other end, I got excited.
The initial shock wore off, I discussed it with my family and the rest is history."
According to Burch, the developmental assignment she accepted has a number of benefits. The biggest advantage being it strengthened her competence to perform well in positions outside her current billet.
"I got a chance to test my managerial, supervisory and project management capabilities in areas outside my technical experience," Burch said. "There were times I almost had to stop and pinch myself when I heard people talking about going to the West Wing to resolve a problem. I almost felt as if I were watching the television show West Wing every time it happened."
Burch's assignments ranged from updating and reviewing technical Standing Operating Procedures for the Information System and Technology Division to participating in the testing of a new server for the Executive Office of the President.
"I would never have believed I would have this opportunity," Burch said. "I've improved my skills in critical areas like creativity, strategic thinking, problem solving, political savvy and much more."
The logistics specialist praised toward those who support the President, pointing out that it was the President's fine staff who made her training a success.
"I really appreciated the way the IT [Information Technology] folks explained what they were doing, when they were doing it and the impact it has on others," Burch said. "The overall experience provided me the chance to network, work in a position outside the Marine Corps, and to represent Marine Corps Logistics Bases in new contexts."
Burch's supervisor while at the White House, Dave McCrosky, said it was Burch's fine work ethics that made her training successful.
"Lydia is absolutely one of the finest federal civil servants I have had the pleasure of serving with," said McCrosky, Branch Chief with Systems Infrastructure Support in the President's Executive Office.
"She came into a very different environment than she is accustomed to, one that can be very intimidating and demanding for even the most seasoned of leaders. She took charge, built teams to support her tasks, and followed through magnificently. The only down side is that Lydia has moved on to another assignment. We really miss her attitude, spirit and enthusiasm."
Burch plans to take her newly-acquired skills and those attributes highlighted by McCrosky to her next assignment under the Executive Leadership Program. She is currently on a 30-day assignment in the Contracting Directorate at Warner Robins Air Logistics Command, and in June she plans to go with her colleagues to Los Angeles for a week to visit with private industry to see how they "grow" their leaders.
"In August," she added, "I will go to Baltimore, Maryland, for graduation and then return to the Maintenance Directorate here to apply all the knowledge and experience I will have acquired throughout the year.
"This is a great opportunity for any employee in the federal government. I strongly encourage all interested to look into these type programs," Burch concluded.