Sgt. Maj. Joseph Davenport III has been the sergeant major of Marine Corps Logistics Command since Oct. 1, 2012. His job is to act as the senior enlisted advisor to the commanding general of LOGCOM.
Sgt. Maj. Joseph Davenport III has been serving as the sergeant major for Marine Corps Logistics Command since October 2012, his primary role being the senior enlisted advisor to the LOGCOM commanding general.
Having grown up near Marine Corps Base Quantico, and a family history of military service, the Corps was a good career choice for him early on.
Now having close to three decades under his belt, he still values the face-to-face interaction, sometimes lost by the advances of technology that have taken place in recent years.
In a recent sit-down with Herald reporter Jennifer Maddox Parks, he talks of his roots, his passion for reading and his desire to meet Jimmy Buffett.
Q: What was your first job?
A: I grew up on a horse farm, so I made $10 a week cleaning stables. That was during the 60s and 70s.
Q: What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first paycheck?
A: Baseball gloves. I remember it like it was yesterday. I thought that was big money back then.
Q: What’s the single most effective technique you found over the past two years for keeping employees motivated?
A: Actually getting out and seeing them. You can’t beat actually seeing them and engaging them. Emails don’t work, and the phone doesn’t work either.
NAME: Sgt. Maj. Joseph Davenport III
POSITION: Sergeant Major, Marine Corps Logistics Command.
YEARS ON THE JOB: Began serving in his current position on Oct. 1, 2012. Enlisted in the Marine Corps on Dec. 12, 1983.
FAMILY: Davenport and his wife have two children and six grandchildren.
Q: What led you to your current position?
A: I grew up 20 miles south of Quantico. Most of my family got drafted, but the draft ended my sophomore year. I guess it was the influence of being in a military area. I figured I’d be in four or five years. Thirty years later, I’m still here.
Q: Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?
A: No doubt, my grandfather. He was a World War II veteran. He was more military than anyone I knew.
Q: If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology - examples e-mail, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. - what would you most like to see go away?
A: No doubt I’d get rid of cell phones and email. We have lost our interpersonal skills. We don’t stand in front of people anymore. Good God, I’ve got four phones I have to check. The important stuff you do face-to-face anyway. I’d also get rid of ATMs too. I’d have more money.
Q: What is your favorite work-related gadget?
A: I’d say my sword, honestly. I’m not a gadget guy.
Q: What is your favorite tradition?
A: The Marine Corps Ball, no doubt about it. In D.C., I go to four or five a year. They don’t have as many down here. There is nothing like putting on your uniform and having a good time, and letting your hair down — if you still have it.
Q: What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?
A: “Helmet for my Pillow” by Robert Leckie. I read about three or four books a year. I read a lot of periodicals. I used to read more, but I just don’t have time. I’ve read four or five books this year already. I mainly read books about leadership and history. I was a history major, so I was a big reader at one time.
Q: I’m up and going by? And what is your morning routine?
A: I am up by 4:30. I work out and I am at work by 6 or 6:30. I have a litany of meetings and correspondence. I do PT (physical training) at lunch, and I am out by 18:00 hours (6 p.m.) I usually do PT two to three times a day to burn off stress.
Q: What famous person would you like to meet, and why?
A: I’d have to say Jimmy Buffett, and only because he is so totally different from what I do. It is easy to hang around people like you.
Q: Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?
A: I like to travel, no doubt. I love to see different places.
Q: If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?
A: I’d have joined earlier. I joined the Marine Corps at 25, and I turned 54 last week. I’m older than a lot of folks; most are out by 54. I’d have joined at 18 rather than 25.
Q: Best and worst things about your job?
A: The best thing about it is being able to help people and to get to see the success of helping people. The worst is seeing people get in trouble. The downside is that you see more people fail. You hate to see people make a mistake, but it is rewarding to get them back on track.
Q; The most beneficial course I took in school was?
A: A leadership course at Texas A&M. I learned a lot about leadership, probably more than from the Marine Corps.
Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?
A. I’d like to be a bartender, to be in a social setting and meet new people. If you like to meet new people...
Q: Finish this thought; “on the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself…
A: Fishing down in Florida, I’m hoping. I’d like to be on a fishing boat and get back to my roots.
Q: What is the one trait a strong leader cannot afford to be without?
A: Integrity. If people can’t trust you, they are not coming to you.
Q: What was the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
A: To Hawaii with my wife when I came back from Iraq the last time. I’d been in Iraq a year, and I didn’t have another job then.
Q: What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?
A: Social media. These young folks are plugged up to something at all times. If you can’t do a 40-minute run without taking the plugs out, something is wrong.