Timothy Brookshire joined TSA’s ranks during a new era of his career. After 22 years in law enforcement, Brookshire was ready to shift his professional goals and job path.
To achieve this transition, Brookshire applied for the TSA’s Mentoring Program, knowing the benefits of having and being a mentor.
“Everyone needs a mentor,” Brookshire said. “I've read books from Stephen Covey, Ken Blanchard and John Maxwell. If the leadership experts in the industry have mentors, who am I not to have one?
In 2013, TSA created its Mentoring Program after receiving employee feedback for its need.
“This program was an opportunity for TSA to create a forum for employees and leaders – at all levels – to enhance individual performance, support career development and fulfill the agency’s mission by building strong communities of future leaders,” said Anita Manuel, TSA program manager.
Today, Brookshire works as an aviation security advisor on TSA’s International Operations team, an accomplishment he credits to the program, but most importantly, his mentor.
When Brookshire initially applied to the program, Manuel connected him to Dwaine Murray, TSA deputy federal security director for Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and Key West International Airports.
“After a mentee applies to the program, there is a mentoring matching tool where the mentee selects up to five possible mentors,” Manuel explained. “The mentee form is then assigned to the local Mentoring Program coordinator who then contacts an available mentor. Once the mentor confirms interest, the mentor and mentee are matched.”
The pairing was the perfect fit based on Brookshire’s career goals.
Murray is an avid proponent of mentorship, having guided many employees and being a constant mentee himself.
During a TSA mid-level leadership program, Murray was assigned a mentor as part of the program’s requirements. He experienced firsthand the importance of having a mentor and promised himself to return the favor.
Murray’s background and career achievements aligned with Brookshire’s desire to break into the international work field. Murray introduced Brookshire to his circle with meeting invites and introductions to people working in the space Brookshire wanted to enter.
“Tim’s career goal was to get into the international world. I was a TSA representative before I took this job, and I was responsible for the Caribbean,” Murray said. “We talked about my experiences and what it's like working in the international realm. Then, I started introducing him to different people from the international space, who could come in and talk about their individual subject matter expertise.”
The industry exposure helped Brookshire truly understand the field and its jobs before making his next career step.
“As I learned more, thanks to the knowledge and people Dwaine was introducing me to, I began to do my own research,” said Brookshire. “I was meeting people who were experts in the space, but our time together was limited. I took it upon myself to learn even more about TSA from an international perspective. Dwaine introduced me to different elements and positions in the international world, and I became masterful of that knowledge. It solidified my path of where I wanted to be.”
When the perfect job opportunity presented itself, Brookshire was prepared to take the leap and applied.
“It’s important that you have meaningful and authentic conversations with each other,” Murray said. “I learn just as much or probably more from the people I mentor. They have their unique qualities and ways of doing things that I haven’t thought of.”
Mentorships often lead to these symbiotic relationships for mentees and mentors – both parties being introduced to new concepts and ways of thinking, the mentor learning and growing just as much as the mentee.
Murray wrote about his passionate position on mentorship in a recent article for Homeland Security Magazine.
“Other effective tools [for career and self-development] include 360-degree mentoring, where employees receive feedback from both the people they lead and those they report to,” Murray wrote. “Mentoring up and mentoring down are effective ways for leaders at all levels to share what they know and gain new knowledge.”
Brookshire’s drive and tenacity ultimately helped him fulfill his career goals, but he credits Murray’s guidance and mentorship as a large part of his achievements.
“When we were first paired, Dwaine and I sat down and had an open dialogue about my goals,” Brookshire said. “He asked me what I wanted to accomplish with him as my mentor and what were some of the things I wanted to learn. What are my strengths and weaknesses? He facilitated and devised a plan around those conversations, and now I am in this role today.”
By Kimberlyn Pepe, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs