Inside the CMLDP Part II: Applying for the Program
As a follow-up to the December 2016 newsletter article about NCMA's Contract Management Leadership Development Program (CMLDP), we're back this month to visit with Reid Hollander, a current CMLDP participant, to learn a little bit more about the application process.
Before we learn more about Reid's experience, NCMA has released some details about the CMLDP application process. The application and curriculum for the 2017-2018 year will be available on April 1. Applicants may submit their materials from May 1 to June 30, 2017.
The application is very likely to require an employer support letter, a chapter reference letter, resume, a few short answer or essay-style questions, and a brief budget to show how the applicant will fund travel to the three mandatory in-person training events. If you might apply to the CMLDP this year, start thinking about your plan for pulling these materials together.
Now we'll turn back to Reid Hollander in order to learn about his process in preparing a successful CMLDP application. 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).
When did you begin preparing your application materials?
I believe applications are due on June 30th and, after looking through my files, it appears that I started preparing my application materials at the beginning of May. It is important to leave yourself plenty of float in your application schedule because much of the material is generated by others. Of course, before I even started preparing the materials, I was already having discussions with my manager and other mentors at my company to make sure the program was a viable option for me. I did not want to be in the position of applying for a program, gaining admission, and only then finding out that my company could not support it from a financial perspective.
What types of documents did you submit in order to apply?
The application process includes an application form which has general questions about yourself and asks that you complete several essay questions about your goals during the program, the support you expect to receive from your employer, how you will leverage your experiences to add to the group, your visions of leadership, and how you expect to contribute to the goals of NCMA in the future.
In addition, the applicant must submit at least one letter of recommendation from your manager and one from the president of your local NCMA chapter. As mentioned earlier, leave plenty of time in your application timeline for responses. In my case, getting a recommendation from my manager also included a few meetings to explain the program, how it would benefit our company, and how I would be able to balance workload and travel costs throughout the year.
Lastly, the application requires a resume, which is a great reason to do some resume maintenance if you haven't looked at it in a while.
What resources were most helpful in preparing your application?
The most important thing for me was talking to former CMLDP graduates about their experience. Contact your chapter president (which you have to do anyway to get a recommendation) and ask if anyone in the local chapter has completed the program in the past. There is also a list of graduates on the CMLDP website that proved valuable for me. I was able to find two former participants within my company and talk to them. Through these conversations, I learned that one of them had worked for my manager in the past. She was able to call my manager and be an advocate for the program, which helped justify the costs to my organization.
Can you identify the two or three factors that most likely led to your application being approved?
I think the selection committee is looking for diverse experiences to add to the group dynamic. My career has ranged from being a project engineer for a very large general contractor to being a real estate attorney and now I am in the aerospace industry. This diversity in experience is important. My advice to applicants would be to identify one or two distinguishing attributes that the selection committee will probably recognize adding value to the group and focus on those. Our CMLDP group has such a wide variety of experiences that it is clear the selection criteria focuses on bringing value to the group through unique backgrounds. Focus on what makes you unique and tell the committee why your attributes will add value to the group.
Secondly, be proud of your accomplishments. If you are taking the steps to apply to CMLDP, you have most likely already done some amazing things in your life and career, so don't be bashful about recounting them. If you have accomplished something, make sure the reviewers know about it!
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 (Denton's).