PSOW Blog

National Protocol Officer Week - Graduate Profile: Mick Chiara

PSOW Staff - Friday, March 20, 2020
PSOW Graduate Spotlight:  John Souza

National Protocol Officer Week - Graduate Profile: Mick Chiara

  1. What makes a Protocol Officer the Most Valuable Player on a team? Could you share a “real life” example? Protocol officers are often the unsung heroes of events, ceremonies, dinners, you name it - whether there is a dinner, a ceremony, or a high-level visitor coming to your organization, it is the protocol officers who often add that extra little "something" that takes an event from being "OK" or "good" to making it great. We are the icing on the cake - we don't just make memories, we make them positive. Just recently we had a late request for a soldier who was retiring ask if it was possible for her to participate in our installation retirement ceremony. The answer is always yes, but particularly challenging for this officer was that initially she didn't think she was going to be able to participate on the scheduled date and had originally opted out of doing the ceremony. Two days before the ceremony her situation changed and she called to see if it was possible for her and her family to participate. Our protocol team was able to get all of the "stuff" she needed for her, her husband, and her children, and she was able to fully participate in the February retirement ceremony.
  2. If you had to define a Protocol Officer in one word, what would it be and why? Flexible. Instead of just "why" I'll provide an example. A very high-level VIP came to our installation for his first visit. We had a very specific list of items from his staff that were his priorities. We built the itinerary, rehearsed the driving routes and the personnel who would greet him at the various stops, and we were absolutely ready to execute the visit according to the approved plan. Apparently that approved plan was not briefed to the primary and he said upon arrival, "I'm not doing any of that...take me to ______________," and for two days that's how that visit went. When I first started working in protocol I would get very insulted when VIPs didn't follow the itineraries that me and a whole bunch of other people put a lot of effort into creating. I've learned over the years that the visit isn't about me and my itinerary, it is about the visitor, and if they want to go to the old high school they attended 40 years ago, then that's OK with me.
  3. What is your most valuable protocol tool or resource? There are two answers to this question - resource #1 is the worldwide contacts I have made over the years through PSOW, PDI-POA and our own internal network of contacts across our service. Most Valuable Tool #2 is our "protocol bag." Whether it is having a lint roller, aspirin, door stops, band-aid, or sewing kit on hand, our "go" bag has come in handy on more than one occasion! Share YOUR go bag contents with all of us!
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