LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inducted South Pacific Division Regional Business Director John Moreno into the Senior Executive Service at a Jan. 10 ceremony at the Corps' Los Angeles District headquarters.
The event brought Moreno, who has 26 years of service with the Corps, full circle. He began his career as a Department of the Army engineer intern in the Los Angeles District in 1992.
He went on to be a project engineer and project manager in Los Angeles, before taking positions as a resident engineer in the Europe District, construction manager/area engineer in the Fort Worth District, and engineering and construction chief for the Albuquerque District.
Moreno served as the engineering and construction chief in the Afghanistan District, before becoming the business technical division chief for the South Pacific Division in 2016.
Brig. Gen. Kim Colloton, South Pacific Division commander, told the family members, friends and colleagues who gathered for the ceremony they contributed to who Moreno is today – a role model who inspires others to be better.
"John has an extremely strong moral compass," Colloton said. "He truly cares about others and has demonstrated the courage to stand up for others and for what's right."
Maj. Gen. Scott Spellmon, the Corps' deputy commanding general for Civil and Emergency Operations, presided over the ceremony. He said the Army didn't reward Moreno with a promotion or advance him based upon just his resume. Rather, he said, they considered his potential.
"That is his ability to serve at the next level of leadership and management, and his ability to look at problems, not any longer from just a local or regional perspective," Spellmon said. "We want him to bring a national or enterprise lens to all the problems he is going to face out here in his region's decision making."
The SES was established by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 to ensure the executive management of the government is responsive to the needs, policies and goals of the nation, according to the Office of Personnel Management website.
Members of the SES serve in key positions just below top presidential appointees and are the major link between the appointees and the rest of the federal workforce. SES rank is equivalent to general officer or flag officer rank in the armed forces.
After receiving the induction pin, reciting the oath of office and having the SES flag uncased and unfurled, Moreno thanked the attendees and shared the five things expected of a senior executive. The first being a leader of people.
"Leading the most valuable resource that we have," Moreno said. "We have 30,000-plus civilians (in the Corps), but it takes people to execute the work, it takes leaders to step up and leaders to also be followers at times."
The second expectation of an SES, he said, is to lead change.
"We are expected to be adaptive, we're expected to be flexible, and we're expected to be comfortable, without being predictable in our programs," Moreno said. "Our chief of engineers has challenged us to revolutionize as an organization. Not to say we're lagging or not doing well enough, but we're expected to do so much more that we've just constantly got to be pushing and pressing ourselves – leading change is just being comfortable with that kind of environment."
Moreno said the third expectation is to deliver results, while the fourth is building relationships – particularly valuable in the Corps, since its projects are done for others.
"The last expectation is being someone who can exercise good business judgment," Moreno said. "It's expected that whether it's a financial, human capital or technological type of activity, the senior executive is looking after the organization, and, especially, looking up and outward toward the larger enterprise, and that we're exercising good business management."
Moreno said the Corps of Engineers has been a great organization to him over his career and was what inspired him to be a part of the Senior Executive Service.
"You find that you're part of an organization, the people that you work with, and it's the mission that this organization is doing; all of that has kept me bound to this organization," Moreno said. "I want to keep it doing well, growing stronger and building for the future. As a senior executive, I have the influence to positively advance this organization."
Moreno concluded his remarks with a view of the immediate future in his role as the Division's regional business director and newest senior executive.
"We're going to have to buckle in real tight because it is going to be a very exhilarating experience," Moreno said. "I am fully committed to bringing the same passion and energy that has helped me in past experiences, and I look forward to the assignment."
As one of two senior executives in the Division, Moreno provides executive leadership and direction to the South Pacific Division and its four subordinate Districts in operating as a regional business center. The Division's workload, valued at $2 billion annually, includes civil works, military construction, and interagency and international services.