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News | March 18, 2021

Voices of DCAA: Women Leaders - People First

By DCAA Staff Writer

Editor’s note: This article is part of the Women’s History Month series featuring some of DCAA’s women leaders’ perspectives on leadership.

DCAA leaders Jennifer Desautel and Cornesia Green share a similar leadership philosophy; people first. Both have benefited from listening and acting on the advice of their supervisors and mentors. As they were moving up the ranks, someone put them and their professional development first and now they are doing the same for their employees.

Jennifer, Director for the Boeing Corporate Audit Directorate, came to DCAA after working first for the Air Force Audit Agency. As she moved into positions of greater responsibility, she has been incredibly fortunate to have many mentors and cheerleaders who gave her advice and coaching. Her advice for those who seek to be future leaders, be a student of leadership– read books, articles, and attend classes. Find leaders you admire and begin to craft your own leadership style by adopting specific aspects of their style. For areas of weakness, find a mentor who can help you strengthen that skill. 

From the first manager who hired her as a GS-4 while still in college to the GS-15 who convinced her to map out her career goals when she was a GS-7, Jennifer listened and acted on others’ advice to advance her career. She grew her leadership style when a manager taught her how to adapt her leadership for the person and the situation and further developed that style by serving on committees and strategic action teams, championing and implementing her ideas. Jennifer took all this advice and coaching and finally reached the rank of Senior Executive Service. One lesson she learned as a leader – “Put the people first – understand their wants and needs and strive to take care of them; the rest of it works itself out after that. “

Cornesia says something similar of lessons learned - “As a leader, we are at our best when the people we lead are succeeding”. She still follows the advice of one of her supervisors and mentors who always said to keep it simple by "taking care of the people so that the rest will take care of itself".

She became a leader when she saw one of her peers get promoted and realized it was time to get off the sofa, stop watching, and get out there. As she moved up the ladder, she watched the leaders around her and learned what to do and what not to do. When she was ready, she took that leap and applied for her first supervisory position. Now, she is steadily moving up and is currently a Regional Audit Manager in Central Region.

Cornesia’s advice for those who seek to follow in her footsteps: “before applying to positions in the Agency, reached out to those who are “in your corner" for advice and tips; don't let the word "no" stop you from achieving your goals; once you have ‘arrived’, strive to understand the difference between leading people and managing tasks/assignments....Then lead accordingly.”

Cornesia started moving up by becoming a Financial Liaison Advisor at TACOM in Warren, Michigan.  Then, she took the leap and became a Supervisory Auditor at the Houston Branch Office.  Another opportunity presented itself and she became the Resident Auditor at the then Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR) Resident Office.  She next took a lateral position to expand her breadth of knowledge and skills and moved to Orlando to become the Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control Orlando Resident Auditor.  Finally, she put in a for the Central Region Regional Audit Manager position, her current job, and I got it. “We work in a complex environment, says Cornesia, the best thing we can do in leadership is to keep it simple for our people.  I'll say it again, Take care of them by putting them first-engage them.  Think of the inverted pyramid where our people are at the top.”