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    New program manager takes reins of Journey to Leadership program

    New program manager takes reins of Journey to Leadership program

    Photo By Jon Connor | Heather Tahja, program manager of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command’s Journey to...... read more read more



    Story by Jon Connor 

    U.S. Army Sustainment Command

    ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – There’s a new person in charge of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command’s coveted Journey to Leadership program.

    Her name is Heather Tahja. Born and raised in Rock Island, Illinois, she graduated from Western Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and marketing. She began federal government work in 2009 with a component of the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, then located here, and became the newest JTL program manager on July 18.

    “I am very passionate about employee development and training. Our employees are our number one resource so it is imperative that we invest in them to help them reach their full potential,” Tahja said.

    According to program literature, JTL is a leadership development program created by ASC to select and develop a cadre of high-potential employees available to fill key positions as they become vacant. Participants engage in classroom training, group exercises, learning teams, reading assignments, developmental assignments, cross-training assignments, executive interviews, shadowing assignments, and participation in command-endorsed team projects. Its motto is “Preparing Tomorrow’s Leaders Today.”

    To see Tahja in front of a class of JTL students, one can easily tell she is very excited in her new job. But it’s more than just a new setting; it’s her love for working in human relations.

    When Tahja first started working at RIA, she was employed in the TACOM Manpower section. The RIA TACOM component eventually moved to Detroit Arsenal in Warren, Michigan, as part of a Base Realignment and Closure decision, which led Tahja to start her human resources career working at the Civilian Human Resources Agency at RIA, she said.

    In 2014, she accepted a promotion to become the SHARP -- Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention -- program manager for the U.S. Joint Munitions Command at RIA. Because the position was partly situated within the Training and Policies team, Tahja picked up some other experience as well.

    “I became very involved with employee training, specifically new employee orientation and onboarding,” she said. “I also facilitated a Headquarters, JMC Communication Model Workshop that was endorsed by JMC senior leaders for approximately two years.”

    Two years ago, Tahja left JMC for a six-month stint as the executive assistant for the CHRA North Central Regional Director’s Office, also at RIA, giving her a better understanding of Department of Defense HR from a regional perspective.

    She later came back to JMC and worked in staffing and recruiting until her newest position to head up JTL.

    “We’re very excited to have Heather Tahja as the new JTL program manager,” said its former program manager, Lisa Schuldt. “She brings with her a wealth of training and employee development experience from previous positions she’s held. She also brings a fresh outlook to the program that will benefit all involved.”

    Schuldt, who headed up JTL since 2008, is now chief of the G3 Training and Programs Branch, which includes oversight of JTL, Organization Inspection Program, Risk Management and Internal Control, and the Unit Status Report/Mission Essential Task List.

    Looking back, Schuldt said she was grateful to the ASC leadership for continuing to support this program now and over the years. “Investing in our people continues to pay huge dividends to the command,” she said.

    “Lisa has been so incredibly resourceful in my transition to this position,” Tahja said. “She has the historical knowledge and resources that has made this transition virtually seamless.”

    The program is broken down into three tiers:

    o Tier I gives a better understanding of the ASC mission and the missions of the other tenant commands located at RIA, as well as an initial look at personality types and ways to relate to others.

    o Tier II offers experiential learning on real-world command projects while getting students to know themselves better to affect how they lead others.

    o Tier III embraces the importance of developing one’s employees, their organization, and knowing how to influence others to successfully accomplish the mission.

    “With all three tiers, one of the biggest takeaways is the networking,” Schuldt pointed out. “They build upon their network with each level, forming bonds with their classmates that will benefit themselves and their commands throughout their careers.”

    “The program continuously changes depending on the needs of the command and the students,” Schuldt said. “One example, is individual requirements – for Tier II we used to have the students do two separate 30-day developmental assignments … along with the rest of their requirements. We revised it to just one 20-day developmental assignment as we felt two of these assignments were excessive and hard for the students to accomplish when they are one deep in many areas” at their workplace.

    Likewise, Tahja sees changes in the JTL program as vital to its success.

    “We are always striving for continuous process improvements,” she said. “We want to ensure that the curriculum, guest speakers, and opportunities remain relevant and valuable. We take all the feedback we receive from the program surveys into consideration and action, if needed.”

    “I have gained a tremendous appreciation for all of the time and effort that has been put into making Journey to Leadership such a comprehensive and valuable resource for employees,” Tahja said. “The curriculum, tools and resources provided by the facilitators, guest speakers and command leadership through this program is outstanding.”

    Regardless of one’s standing in the workplace, Tahja said JTL is for everyone.

    “I believe ALL employees can benefit from JTL, no matter where they are currently at in their career journey. This journey helps participants grow both personally and professionally and gives them the information, tools, resources and networking to reach their full potential.”



    Date Taken: 09.30.2021
    Date Posted: 09.30.2021 12:42
    Story ID: 406417

    Web Views: 965
    Downloads: 0