TITLE: Management analyst
COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support
ACQUISITION CAREER FIELD: Business – financial management
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 11
MILITARY OR CIVILIAN: Civilian
YEARS OF MILITARY SERVICE: 2 years, 5 months
AAW/DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level III in business – financial management, Level II in program management, Level I in life cycle logistics
EDUCATION: MBA from Lawrence Technological University and BBA from Grand Valley State University
HOMETOWN: Muskegon, Michigan
AWARDS: Achievement Medal for Civilian Service
by Ellen Summey
Sarah Condon was midway through Army basic training when 9/11 happened. Unlike the rest of the country, which had been glued to 24-hour network news since the first plane struck the World Trade Center in New York, Condon and her class were totally in the dark. “We were in the boot camp bubble. We had no television, so we had no idea what was happening,” she recalled. When instructors began telling Condon and her classmates about the attacks, she was in disbelief and wondered whether it was some kind of terrible joke. “Then, I looked over and saw one of the drill sergeants crying,” she said, “and that’s when I realized—oh, no, this is real.”
In that moment, life changed. Condon and her fellow recruits were worried, wondering what would come next. “Are they going to send us straight to war? If we graduate, will our families be able to come?” But there was no time to panic. Training continued and the class graduated in November 2001. Only then, when she returned home to Michigan, did she see images of the attacks for the first time. “It was just jaw-dropping,” she said. “That’s when it finally sunk in. Until you see it, you can’t really understand—everything changed. It was a different time when I signed up, but during basic training, everything changed.” Condon reported to duty with the 549th Military Police Company, based at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and completed deployments to Bosnia and Iraq before finishing her enlistment and returning to Michigan.
Back at home, Condon made use of the lessons she had learned in the Army. “Never give up. If you want something, you have to keep trying,” she said. “This can go for being selected for a promotion, a class, or program. I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and sometimes we don’t know the reason until further down the road.” She completed her bachelor’s degree and then worked in banking for several years. Her first job as an Army civilian came in 2009, when she accepted a secretary position with the Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems (PEO GCS). Three years later, she found her professional niche. “I was on a special assignment, assisting the ATAAPS [Automated Time Attendance and Production System] team load all of the personnel into new teams in 2012 when GFEBS [General Fund Enterprise Business System] was rolled out,” she said. “This was the beginning of my exposure to the budget and manpower world.” From her first role at PEO GCS, Condon moved up the ranks, earned her Level III certification in business – financial management and became a member of the Army Acquisition Workforce (AAW).
Today, she is the civilian and military manpower analyst for PEO Combat Support and Combat Service Support (CS&CSS), managing positions for more than 400 core employees and 30 military personnel. She recently completed the fiscal year 2020 Inspiring and Developing Excellence in Acquisition Leaders (IDEAL) program, but she said it wasn’t an easy path to get accepted. “I had to keep applying,” she said. “I applied for the IDEAL program three different times and by the third time, I was finally accepted.” Sponsored by the Office of the Director of Acquisition Career Management, IDEAL is a leader development program for AAW civilians at GS-12 through GS-14 (or broadband equivalent). It prepares midcareer professionals for positions where they will lead people, teams and other groups. Participants take part in classroom sessions, engagements with senior leaders and a site visits or field trip.
Condon appreciated the connections she built with her IDEAL cohort, and the prominent acquisition leaders who spoke to the group during the program. “It was so nice being able to connect to the same cohort of students and learn from others experiences in the class. In addition to the lifelong friends I made in class, our cohort was also given the opportunity of having guest speakers who provided us valuable career and leadership advice.”
When she offers advice to others, she encourages them to seek out new opportunities and shape their careers. “If you’re not being challenged or aren’t satisfied with your current job, then take your career into your hands and go find a position that will help you reach your goals,” she said. In addition, she said it’s important to treat everyone with respect, regardless of the circumstances. “I’ve learned to always conduct yourself professionally and don’t burn bridges along the way,” she said. “You never know when someone might be your future boss in another position.” Kindness makes the world go ’round, whether at work or in our personal lives. “We are all human and a work in progress, but being kind and genuine to others can go a long way,” she said. “I also believe in karma, so I try not to worry myself with things not within my control.” With a positive outlook and the tenacity to keep trying, Condon has shown the world she is ready to adapt to any change.
“Faces of the Force” is an online series highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce through the power of individual stories. Profiles are produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication and Support Branch, working closely with public affairs officers to feature Soldiers and civilians serving in various AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, please go to https://asc.army.mil/web/publications/army-alt-submissions/.
Subscribe to Army AL&T News – the premier online news source for the Army Acquisition Workforce. Subscribe