The CAES HiPo program is an accelerated development program for individuals identified as High Potential at CAES. This year's HiPo program was revamped, and included 13 CAES employees from all different CAES sites. 

Recent HiPo participants, Iesha Rodriguez, program manager II from the CAES San Diego site, and Ian Brooks, quality assurance manager from the CAES San Diego site, shared their experiences and thoughts on the program below. ​

Iesha Rodriguez, Program Manager II

When I was first approached in regards to having been selected for the HiPo program, I was caught a bit off guard and my initial reaction was​ a combination of shock and excitement. The program and its benefits aren't well known throughout the San Diego CAES site, so I wasn't quite sure what the program entailed. Once I was provided with more details, I was thrilled and felt honored to have been chosen to be a part of it.

Having the opportunity to work with individuals from other sites and departments was a valuable eye-opening experience. The different mindsets and sets of skills that we had on our team varied greatly and it allowed us to learn new aspects of the business, benchmark the best practices from other sites, and create suggestions that effectively improved the ECO and WI processes for all CAES sites. Although having individuals from other sites on the same Project Team was beneficial, it did come with a set of difficulties. Some of which included trying to stay on a consistent cadence due to time differences and evolving priorities but we all did our best managing all the obstacles we faced throughout the planning phase of the project. Our Project Leader, Eric Richardson, took over our Project Team near the end of the planning phase and was very helpful and supportive. He specifically helped us tie up all and any loose ends and gave us strong recommendations for both our presentation slides and our presentation talking points.

The wrap up event in Crystal City blew me away. Not only was the wrap up event very well organized, but I learned plenty and I had a lot of fun while doing so. Presenting our projects to the Senior Leadership Team in Crystal City was the cherry on top of an amazing experience. It was refreshing and, candidly, somewhat of a relief to see how genuinely interested the senior leadership team was with all of the team's projects/presentations. They provided beneficiary feedback, support, and seemed to want us to work towards making our suggestions come into fruition for all CAES sites. ​

A huge benefit from the HiPo program for myself personally, was my mentorship with Eric Alexander. My mentor, Eric, opened the door for me to move into a new role in the Program Management Office at CAES San Diego, for which I am extremely grateful for. Another benefit for myself and for any participant in the HiPo Program was the exposure and chance to network with colleagues from different sites and the senior leadership team. 

​Ian Brooks, Quality Assurance Manager​

I felt validated of my continuous hard work when I found out that I was not only nominated but selected to participate in the CAES HiPo program. I was lucky enough to work on a project that I am passionate about regarding the retention and career development of the First-Line Leaders. The team and I were able to dive into the challenges these leaders face on a daily basis and be the voice for them in improvements to the work environment and their personal development for success. The wrap up event in Crystal City was an excellent experience as we were provided development for our growth along with one-on-one face time with the executives to pick their brains about anything on our mind. I was able to walk away from this experience with new connections across the country, a sponsor to my newly found career aspiration, and a sense of pride of accomplishment in making a positive difference for the future leaders of CAES. 

Amy Luu, Senior Manager Information Technology

I had stumbled upon the HiPo program in my first months at CAES, as I perused CAESnet and told my boss that I was interested in participating.

Three years later, I met with my boss and the CIO who congratulated me for being accepted to the HiPo program. They explained that the program had been completely revamped, and senior leadership was heavily involved and supported it.  

True to their word, senior leadership was involved, in fact providing a list of projects that they felt would be opportunities for us to delve into and provide recommendations. I selected a project in which I have had zero exposure, and knew it would provide an opportunity for me to learn another part of CAES. We worked well in our team that was comprised of folks in different areas and locations of CAES, so we each provided different perspectives and thought streams. I believe our diverse experiences and expertise melded into a truly thought-provoking, cross-functional collaboration. We had a weekly stand-up, shared tasks, provided feedback, supported each other, and kept Amanda Hakos, (HiPo facilitator) and our CAES Leader, Steve Hogan, CAES SVP of Operational Excellence updated. Steve was with us every step of the way, guiding us, asking the questions that he knew his peers would be asking us, introducing us to the Supply Chain leaders in each division as additional resources, and providing feedback on our results and our next steps. 

The meetings in Crystal City were very enlightening, educational and inspiring. Each of the presentations were professionally delivered by the teams, generating discussion and next steps. We were given the opportunity to spend one on one time with two different members of the CAES senior leadership team to talk about whatever was on our minds. It was refreshing to have the time and access to a C-Suite member, to have an inviting conversation and make real connections.