‘Be a leader regardless of what position you’re in’
Ms. Susan L. Follett
Like most members of the Army Acquisition Workforce, a desire to give back sparked Kristy Tierney’s career. “I wanted a career that had more of a positive impact on the world than simply helping a company improve its bottom line, and I saw public service as a way to do that,” she said. “This career allows me to use my business knowledge and skills to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars and to support the warfighters who sacrifice so much for all of us.”
She started at the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command at Rock Island, Illinois, in 2004, purchasing chemical and biological monitors, alarms and detectors in the Chemical and Biological Directorate. She stayed with TACOM until 2010, when she moved to the U.S. Army Contracting Command – Rock Island (ACC-RI). She has worked in several different divisions within those organizations, including Program Manager Sets, Kits, Outfits and Tools (PM SKOT); Installations; Ammunition; and Enhanced Army Global Logistics Enterprise (EAGLE) and Sustainment. “Each area that I’ve worked in has given me a new perspective that I was able to apply in some way to each new future position,” Tierney said.
She’s now the contracting officer for the Army Prepositioned Stock – 5 (APS-5) program in Kuwait and Qatar. The APS-5 program maintains combat-ready equipment and materiel, strategically prepositioned to be used to support warfighter deployments to Southwest Asia in contingency operations. Now in her 13th year in the workforce, Tierney executes and administers the contracts that support the 401st Army Field Support Brigade’s mission to receive, repair, maintain, store, prepare for issue and issue APS-5 equipment. “It’s extremely rewarding to know that my efforts help to ensure that the soldiers in Southwest Asia always have fully maintained equipment that is ready for issue and use at a moment’s notice,” Tierney said.
“I’m definitely proud of the work we do every day to help keep the complex APS-5 program in Kuwait and Qatar operating efficiently,” she added. “But the add-on-armor effort that I worked on while at PM SKOT at TACOM also stands out in my mind as an accomplishment that I’m particularly proud of.” In 2007, Tierney was one of two contract specialists on a small cross-functional team that was tasked with equipping newly established add-on-armor sites in Iraq and Afghanistan with the tools required to quickly install armor kits on vehicles in theater to make them more resistant to threats, particularly improvised explosive devices. “My team and I successfully utilized the contingency contracting methods available to us to award approximately 20 contracts within one week of becoming aware of the requirements. This required extensive and constant coordination with all stakeholders, and a level of dedication to the mission that I’m proud to have been a part of. It was extremely satisfying to know that my actions had a direct and immediate impact on the safety of our soldiers in Southwest Asia.”
The key to being successful in her role is communication, she said. “It’s important to be able to properly communicate complicated contracting regulations, laws and policies to contractors, customers and colleagues to ensure mutual understanding.”
Communication is also the key to overcoming the biggest challenge she faces in her job—keeping pace with constant change. “The contracts that we manage are performed in theater, which means we operate in a fluid, fast-paced environment. We always have to be prepared to handle changes to the missions,” she said. “By staying in constant communication with our customers, we can be as proactive as possible, and on a daily basis we share lessons learned with each other so we can ensure that we’re operating as effectively and efficiently as possible. I’m very fortunate to have such a great team who are very skilled in their jobs and understand the importance of communication and teamwork.”
During the course of her career, she noted, she has worked “with many talented people who have helped guide me and my career, but the two individuals who have had the most impact are Sean O’Reilly and Chris Dake, both of whom I met very early in my career while working for TACOM.” O’Reilly is now a division chief at TACOM-Warren, Michigan, and Dake, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, is the acting division chief of the EAGLE and Sustainment Division at ACC-RI. Tierney worked with both of them in 2006-2007 when she was with PM SKOT at TACOM.
“Mr. O’Reilly believed in my abilities, despite my lack of experience at the time, and tasked me with challenging contract actions so that I could grow and develop my skills, while also providing the support I needed to be successful,” said Tierney. “Mr. Dake leads by example, and has shown me the importance of integrity, respect, honesty and even humor. He values my knowledge and opinions, and encourages me to be confident and make my voice heard. I’m very fortunate that he is now directly in my chain of command and I’m able to interact with him daily.”
In addition to the required business classes and DAWIA certifications, Tierney noted that the most important way to be successful in contracting “is to obtain a diverse array of on-the-job experience,” she said. “Take advantage of opportunities to support a variety of customers, and execute different types of contracts for many different types of supplies and services.” She added, “It’s also important to be a leader regardless of what position you’re in. Always try to recognize and build skills in others, not only to help their career but also to support and improve the contracting workforce as a whole.”
This article was originally published in the October – December 2016 issue of Army AL&T magazine.
“Faces of the Force” highlights members of the Army Acquisition Workforce through the power of individual stories. The series, produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication and Support Branch in close coordination with public affairs officers, features Soldiers and DA civilians serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, go to https://asc.army.mil/web/publications/army-alt-submissions/.
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