Darius White Explains the Power of Storytelling

Darius White, chief of the Business Management Department for IEN (U.S. Army photo taken by Spencer Langrock, IEN)
Darius White, chief of the Business Management Department for IEN (U.S. Army photo taken by Spencer Langrock, IEN)
Mission Area
Spencer Langrock, Public Affairs Officer, IEN
April 26, 2023

“Storytelling is a way to connect with people, even if it is fanciful or scientific, on another level,” said Darius White. 

As an avid reader, Darius recognized from an early age the immense impact that stories can have on people. He believes stories unite people and increase their comprehension of difficult topics.

Darius crafts compelling and engaging stories that connect him with his peers on another level. When Darius speaks during an Integrated Enterprise Network (IEN) all hands meeting, the entire audience quiets and leans in because they know he’ll take them on an adventure.

For today’s #PEOEISTeammateTuesday, Darius White answered questions about his career and life.

Describe what you did before joining IEN.
Before joining IEN, I was in the Pentagon working as a senior analyst for Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. One of the individuals I worked with — and then worked for — was Mr. Aric Sherwood. When he left the Pentagon, he went to IEN to be the deputy for Colonel (Col.) Costas. Fast-forward to when IEN’s Chief of the Business Management Division left, Aric reached out to me several times to apply for the position. I was initially reluctant, but I decided to take him up on his offer to apply, and I was lucky enough to be offered the position. It’s good to work for people you know, respect and trust, so it was a natural progression to continue to work with Mr. Sherwood at IEN.

Describe what you do and how it supports the Army in 30 seconds or less.
I’m a resource management officer, but the duty description that comes with the title is called Chief of the Business Management Division. The business part of my title consists of formulating and executing budgets; looking across the Future Years Defense Program at the O-6 level and programming or forecasting future investments over a five-year period; and I oversee IEN’s Senior Acquisition Officer, Patrick Colleran, who focuses on contracts.

What’s the process of forecasting over a five-year period?
Ideally, it’s based on Army Requirements Oversight Council (AROC) approved requirements documents. Those requirements are what each program is supposed to be based on, and then the Army — upon seeing those requirements as valid — would fund those requirements over a period of time. My team identifies the cost required to meet the requirements set by AROC and requests appropriate funding from Army G-8.

Describe your leadership style.
I consider my leadership style to be pretty straightforward. I’m collaborative, and I like to understand other people’s perspective. I consider my job to cover for my team so they can do their jobs without having to interface on a continual basis outside their realm of responsibilities. For instance, a budget analyst has a lot to do on a day-to-day basis. If they have to attend meetings, then it takes away from them executing and managing fund requests. I hold people responsible for doing their job, but I also maintain an open-door policy so they can always reach out to me for advice or insight.

How do you feel productivity has changed during the pandemic?
I believe productivity has increased in terms of what we do on our computers, the amount of product we turn around and how we communicate. What’s been hurt is our ability to communicate. We miss out on the social cues and having a sense of camaraderie, which we get from face-to-face conversations. We’ve isolated ourselves despite still being connected by technology. In this zeitgeist of social media, social media isn’t as social as we think. The hybrid workplace enables us to increase our productivity and still feel the energy of face-to-face conversations, which I believe is critically important to our mental health and workplace satisfaction.

What’s the best advice you received or gave?
I truly believe in the adage, “a closed hand never gets filled and a closed mouth never gets fed.” If you’re looking for help or support, then you need to put yourself out there and let it be known. There are plenty of people willing to help you, but most won’t offer support unless they know you’re available and willing to receive help.

Can you tell me about your parents and where you grew up?
I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a lower-middle class family. My mother and father were high school sweethearts and got married while my father was in the Navy. My mother worked for Southern Bell, which meant she was one of the first Black telephone operators in New Orleans. She grew within the company and continued to attain a managerial position within the company. My father moved on from serving in the Navy to a lucrative retail career. They were a model couple, and I like to consider anything glorious about myself to be a mere pale reflection of both of their greater glory as people and parents.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
One of my passions is teaching. I’m engaged in my church and have several Bible studies that I either attend or lead. I actually led a weekly Bible study in the Pentagon every Monday at noon. I’m also married, so spending time with my wife takes up a lot of my evenings and weekends. I love to watch old movies, read and have a slightly addictive personality when it comes to grand strategy PC games. I just keep wanting to do one more turn until I eventually look out the window and see the sun is rising. Formulating a strategy, adapting to unforeseen circumstances, and seeing it play out over the course of simulated years, decades, or even centuries is very satisfying to me.  It’s something that we don’t usually get in the real world.  

You put a lot of emphasis into always dressing nicely. What style tips would you give people in the office?
My father knew how to dress, and I learned what style and fashion was from the time I was a kid. The difference is that fashions come and go, but style is timeless.  He would often go to work in a suit because he wanted to project a sense of style, panache and gravitas because he was a salesman. I got my sense of style from him. I tell people to wear stylish clothing you feel comfortable in. Don’t let the clothes wear you, because there’s nothing more awkward than a man or a woman in a suit they feel uncomfortable in. It’s important to know your style and understand it, because knowing your style is knowing yourself. Feeling comfortable and looking stylish is the best way to portray yourself and gain a positive first impression.

What’s your proudest moment?
To me, there’s no better feeling than seeing pride on a parent’s face as they look at their child. Before I left to serve in Baghdad, Iraq, I was honored with a promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel. During the promotion ceremony, I got to see my parents beam with pride at me for my accomplishment. They worked hard and sacrificed so much for me that seeing the pride in their eyes directed at me created a lasting memory I’ll always cherish.


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