Mentoring takes root, bears fruit at Huntsville Center

U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville
Published July 30, 2015
Arthur Martin III, of the Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, provides instruction during Contracting Boot Camp July 28 as mentee Tiffany Torres, far left, looks on.

Arthur Martin III, of the Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, provides instruction during Contracting Boot Camp July 28 as mentee Tiffany Torres, far left, looks on.

Traditionally, mentoring is a one-on-one connection between a younger worker and an older mentor who meet regularly in person; however, modern mentoring occurs in a variety of forms. Some of the most familiar approaches to mentoring are: peer mentoring, group mentoring, virtual mentoring, flash mentoring and reverse mentoring (younger employees mentor older ones).

The Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville’s Installation Support and Programs Management Directorate’s deputy director, Arthur Martin III, has adopted cross-cultural, cross-gender and cross-generational strategies to increase the exchange of knowledge and information and train new leaders.

Martin, formerly the chief of ISPM’s Military Integration Division, has been with the federal government and the Corps for almost 29 years. Since 1999, Martin has worked in positions as an engineer, technical project manager, project manager and branch chief at Huntsville Center. Martin said his success is largely due to mentoring.

“I have had some great mentors from all levels of the organization and continue to be mentored every day,” he said. “Mentoring is not just about being a great professional, but about being a great friend, husband, father and co-worker. I learn something about one or more of these areas every day from someone - not the same person all the time. ... Each time I have a conversation that teaches me something, I feel mentored. From the moment I walk in the door until I depart for the day there are potential mentoring moments (to give and receive mentoring).Therefore, I have hundreds of mentors.”

Martin said his mentors have given him some great advice.

“Those who mentored me gave me proper guidance that has helped me along the way, and they gave me good counsel. For instance Bobby Starling, now a Huntsville Center retiree, once told me success is measured by concrete in the ground. Translation: Stop talking about it and do it. Sharon Butler’s word of advice was, no is not the right answer. You just haven’t figured out how to say ‘yes’ quite yet. David Shockley reminds me that people are our most important asset and Lester Hooker (Mobile District) always reminds me to never forget the source of your blessings. I’m also mentored by those up my chain of command.”

Martin mentors six Huntsville employees on a regular basis. He said becoming a mentor was a great way for him to pay it forward.

“My mentees can choose their own goals - anything from work/life balance to specific industry acumen - and individuals define what topic could best help them achieve their professional goals. There is no limit for the number of mentoring sessions, and the mentors and mentees meet individually for a couple of hours each month as needed. This is my third group of mentees,” Martin said.

Mentees said the opportunity for mentoring is invaluable. It helps employees grow as leaders and professionals.

“The mentoring is helpful. I have a subject matter expert available to provide advice and help solve problems whenever the need arises,” said Jimmie Jackson, program manager, ISPM’s Base Operations Program.

Martin’s mentoring also crosses traditional boundaries and directorates.

Tiffany Torres, value engineering officer, Engineering Directorate, has been mentored by Martin for more than seven years now. She said Martin’s mentoring motivates her.

“Arthur was my first supervisor when I started work in Engineering Directorate’s Operations Division in May 2008,” she said. “He became my mentor and helped me grow professionally. A few years later, he moved to ISPM Directorate. Shortly afterward, my position was moved from ED to ISPM, so he became my supervisor again. I’ve faced many challenges as the VEO and he has always been very supportive. He’s also been very approachable and honest with me. I think mentoring should be standard for those who are starting their careers. It’s very beneficial having someone to talk to who is knowledgeable about every aspect of your professional development. Arthur is always willing to help and lending an ear.”

Robert Jackson, a mechanical engineer also in ED, said he approached Martin for a mentoring opportunity because he wanted to learn what was necessary to grow professionally.

“Arthur has given me advice and strategies on how to approach new opportunities presented to me within my work assignments,” Jackson said.

According to Martin, Chip Marin, director of Installation Support and Programs Management Directorate, is very supportive of his mentoring. He said Marin is also his mentor.

“Mentoring is an essential part of being a leader and is imperative to the development and growth of the workforce to ensure we have qualified, motivated personnel to both execute today’s mission and develop our future leaders,” Marin said. “Mentoring is an important leadership attribute. It not only helps the person being mentored to grow and develop, it also helps the mentor by instilling a reflective thought process on one’s career and through deliberate contemplation determining what worked, what may not have worked so well, and ways of self-improving.”

Marin said he encourages others at Huntsville Center to consider mentoring, especially those within his directorate. He said mentoring helps build strong leaders.

“There is no greater reward from being a leader than watching an employee gain confidence and become successful. In any business, success or failure hinges on people, and being a part of developing those people is an absolute, magnificent privilege,” Marin said.

Martin said he thinks he will always mentor others.

“What’s there not to like about mentoring? It can improve employee satisfaction and retention, enrich new-employee initiation, make an organization more appealing to new personnel and help build strong leaders,” Martin said. “It’s a win for everyone involved. I’ll always mentor in some way.”

Mentees said they anticipate new mentoring opportunities with Martin.

Janie Nabors, an interior designer in the center’s Engineering Directorate summed up the sentiments of all the mentees best.

“Arthur is a leader and encourager. He has equipped me to do well in my job and helped me prepare for future work assignments,” Nabors said. “He is also helping me grow as a Corps’ leader and as a professional.”