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Catchin’ Up With ... Dale R. Parent

Dale R. Parent
Dale R. Parent

Having spent the last 34 years building my career, I can justifiably state that secondary education is one of the most important proactive steps a person can take to position themselves for a rewarding and satisfying life. I took a non-traditional path toward it when I entered the United States Navy from Upstate New York in 1979 immediately after high school. I completed training for the rating of Electronics Technician in 1981 and proudly served my country aboard the Destroyer Combatant USS Deyo (DD-989), homeported in Charleston, SC. I worked in the Combat Electronics Division performing corrective and preventative maintenance on exterior communications, air/surface radar and eventually assumed responsibilities as work center supervisor and the rank of Petty Officer First Class.

In 1985, after six years of seeing the world, I was honorably discharged from active duty and accepted a Federal Civil Service - Electronics Technician position at Naval Electronic Systems Security Engineering Center in Washington, D.C., and that quickly led to a position at the Surface Combat System Center (SCSC) in Wallops Island, VA.

While at SCSC, I held numerous positions of increasing responsibility and contributed as SCSC matured into a Test and Evaluation Center of Excellence. It was at this time though, I started to realize that my career would be limited if I didn’t seek additional formal education. Hence, Salisbury University entered my life. Through the urging of my mentor at SCSC, I applied for my very first semester of secondary formal education. As it turned out, it was a winter term and the idea quickly surfaced that if I could pass this class in an accelerated environment then I would stand a good chance of success with an increased workload load during a normal semester. A little less than four weeks later, I had an answer and also found the basis of the inspiration I needed to make it the rest of the way. I graduated summa cum laude from Salisbury University with a Bachelor of Science in information systems. I also graduated in the ranks of fellow Beta Gamma Sigma - National Honor Society honorees. A distinction I now proudly share with my youngest daughter Christina, who currently attends Salisbury and was inducted into the society in March 2014.

Reminiscent of my days at SU and classes, one of my favorite professors at the school, Dr. Lee May, easily comes to mind. Dr. May, a math professor, gave a simple piece of advice to all of his students, and today, I still find it to be relevant. Dr. May would always advise if you are stumped by a problem, then you should just start “putting pencil to paper” even if its gibberish, it will ignite the thought process that will soon arrange in a logical order so that the problem can be solved.

Post-graduation, I was promoted to Senior Systems Engineer at SCSC and with this position numerous challenges by leading multiple successful Aegis Weapon System and Aegis Combat System baseline integration efforts were met. In April 2005, I continued to further my career by accepting the lead position at SCSC and responsibility for Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, Training Systems, Special Projects and Combat System Ship Qualification Trials (CSSQT) as well as other critical test and evaluation efforts.

Even today, I continue to stay proactive furthering my career in Federal Civil Service working within the Department of Defense (DoD) and starting my 35th year of federal service. I recently completed Level 4 Certification from the Defense Acquisition University for the program management career track. And, my last promotion took me back to Washington, where I’m the acquisition program manager for a midsize DoD Weapons Program. I’m responsible for the effective and efficient procurement of Weapon Systems requirements, which have a portfolio value, back log and current contract requirements in excess $1.1 billon. The weapons I procure support U.S. Navy and U.S Army Global Initiatives, and I also coordinate and complete sales with multiple foreign militaries for both initial systems as well as logistical support within the lifecycle.

Very recently, I was honored by being a team lead selected for a Program Executive Office Excellence Award regarding the area of cost reduction. From June 2013 to January 2014, my team demonstrated outstanding acquisition achievements and finalized and implemented numerous cost reduction initiatives that netted real time cost savings of approximately $841 million over an eight life cycle through perseverance, design and drive to control and reduce the burdened cost of freedom for the United States of America.

In retrospect, I strongly advise everyone, no matter what their endeavors are in life, to appreciate “pushy” mentors, good schools willing to take a chance on non-traditional students and excellent faculty who leave their mark on students as these are key ingredients for a long, successful and rewarding life.

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