NCMA designed the Contract Management Leadership Development Program (CMLDP) to help develop the next generation of contract management leaders. Each spring, NCMA selects a limited number of CMLDP applicants to participate in the yearlong educational experience. Successful applicants have between 4-8 years of contract management experience, a bachelor's degree, and an employer recommendation. The CMLDP curriculum is intense-participants attend webinars, complete various assignments and projects, travel to conferences, and finish a graduate-level research paper. Although the level of effort is high, CMLDP graduates benefit immensely from the knowledge, mentorship, and professional connections they get from the program.
The Denver Chapter has a proud tradition of members successfully applying for and completing the CMLDP. For all of us who don't know anything about the CMLDP or may consider applying for it in the future, I asked Reid Hollander, a current CMLDP participant, to answer a few questions about his application process.
For those who don't know Reid, he works as a contracts administrator at Northrop Grumman. Reid has a JD and MBA from the University of Kansas, as well as a master's degree in financial analysis and management from UC-Denver. He also currently serves as the social media chair of the Denver Chapter's board of directors. Reid lives in Loveland, Colorado with his wife, Brenda, and their two children, Ramsey (7) and Phoebe (4). Thanks, Reid, for answering a few questions for us!
Where did you learn about the CMLDP?
My manager at Northrop Grumman had always been a supporter of NCMA and encouraged his employees to join a chapter and participate. After a couple of years, I felt settled enough in my position and decided to take him up on his offer. While perusing NCMA's website
for information on what my local chapters were and how to connect, I ran across the CMLDP information.
Why did you decide to apply?
I have a philosophy that a person should never stop learning. In my case, I learn new skills best in an organized program of study that has defined inputs and goals. So, for me, something like the CMLDP is a perfect opportunity to hone existing skills and develop entirely new ones.
What kind of support did you receive from your colleagues at Northrop Grumman or the NCMA Denver Chapter to apply?
To be honest, I did not tell very many people that I was applying for this program. Only my managers, who would ultimately have to approve my expense report for traveling to conferences, knew about my application. CMLDP is a competitive program and I was not confident that I would be accepted, so I didn't want to have to answer to colleagues if I was not accepted!
The managers that I did tell were very supportive though. Of course, with a company as large as Northrop Grumman, there was a lot to figure out about the mechanics of paying for it within our own accounting systems, but ultimately enough people pushed the right buttons to make it happen. This year's class includes two other Northrop Grumman employees (one in Chicago and one in Oklahoma City) and their experience has been similar. Tremendous support for the program with some minor frictions in implementation!
Based on your experience so far, who should consider applying to the CMLDP?
I think the ideal candidate is someone who is early-mid career (maybe 5-10 years' experience) and is very confident that they know which learning style they do best with. Too early in your career, and the concepts will likely be to complex; too late, and they may be too broad. I see this program as a tool for broadening the known world of the contracts professional. It is not a course to teach contracting basics and it is also not a class that will help you focus on an already-set career path. It aims to break down stovepipes and help you apply what you know to what other people know.
Secondly, the program is administered much like a graduate-level class in a school of business where there are many assignments, with overlapping deadlines, and a lot to keep track of and to check in on periodically. Contrast that with something like a law school experience, where you may only have one grade an entire semester and therefore can work at your own pace until the end if you choose. I would encourage any applicant to be sure of what learning style they do best with and think about whether it matches the layout of this program.
We'll catch up with Reid in later newsletters to hear more about his CMLDP experience this year, as well as from other CMLDP alumni in the Denver Chapter.
If you have any interest in the CMLDP and would like more information, please feel free to contact Quincy Stott at firstname.lastname@example.org.