Faces of the Force: How important relationships are to building a successful career

By June 14, 2018March 14th, 2019Army ALT Magazine, Faces of the Force
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COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology
POSITION AND OFFICIAL TITLE: Department of the Army system coordinator
DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level III in program management and Level I in engineering
EDUCATION: M.S. in engineering management, Missouri University of Science and Technology; master’s certificate in program management, Villanova University; B.S. in mechanical engineering, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; Project Management Professional
AWARDS: Army Achievement Medal for Civilian Service; Army Meritorious Service Medal (3); Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal; Field Artillery Honorable Order of St. Barbara; NATO and Kosovo Ribbons for Operation Joint Guardian; Federal Executive Board Excellence in Federal Career Bronze Award for Outstanding Para-Professional (Non-Supervisory) Technical, Scientific and Program Support – Team

by Ms. Susan L. Follett

You can think of Anthony Taylor’s 12-plus years on active duty almost like noise-canceling headphones: The experience he gained helps him identify and eliminate the chatter that often drowns out the more important information. Taylor is a DA system coordinator (DASC), supporting the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology (ASA(ALT)) and serving as primary acquisition staff officer for several programs of record, including Excalibur, the Gator Landmine Replacement Program, the Installation Information Infrastructure Modernization Program’s Home Station Mission Command Center initiative, Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care and the Reserve Component Automation System.

As a DASC, Taylor advises ASA(ALT) senior leaders on the oversight, management and execution of the programs he’s assigned to, serving as the focal point for the justification and defense of programs before the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Congress. “Along with the program offices, DASCs ensure that warfighter capabilities are provided in accordance with baselined cost, schedule and technical performance parameters,” he said. “As a former Soldier, my greatest satisfaction is knowing that Soldiers in the field receive quality products that enable them to win.”

Taylor, who served in the Army for 12 1/2 years, leans on his military training as a critical thinker and problem solver. “When things get hectic, it’s important to sift through the noise to find the real issue, address it and move on to the next issue,” he said. “In the military, leaders are often put in chaotic situations and we must isolate the issues from the chaos—by that, I mean break down a problem as simply as possible and then resolve it. Anything that does not directly relate to the problem is just noise.”

He added, “As a DASC, the pressure is on me to be the acquisition expert in the room. We have to distill issues from a program manager’s perspective and nest them within the ‘Big Army’s’ mission. To do that effectively, we must sift through the noise and ensure that the crux of the issue is presented to leadership so that sound decisions that help the warfighter can be made.”

Taylor was commissioned in May 1998 as a field artillery officer. “My high school guidance counselor introduced me to a recruiter—I just happened to be in the library researching an engineering project and the Army ROTC recruiter was there giving a presentation. He convinced me to apply for a four-year ROTC scholarship. I had less than 24 hours before the deadline. ‘Being in the right place at the right time’ sounds cliché, but that’s how it all worked out.”

It’s a recurring theme for Taylor: He got his start in acquisition by attending a change of command ceremony for a fellow company commander, where he met a newly assigned acquisition officer. “He told me that if I wanted to make a difference in the quality, functionality and type of equipment provided to Soldiers and put my engineering degrees to use, the acquisition career field was a good fit.”

His first acquisition position was in 2005 with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Army Capabilities Integration Center, where he served as a combat developer. “I found the fact that I could influence the design, development and procurement of the very equipment I used as a field artillery officer appealing,” said Taylor. “So if the equipment didn’t work, I was at the forefront of the effort to ensure that didn’t happen again.”

In March 2018, he completed the Competitive Development Group/Army Acquisition Fellowship (CDG/AAF), a three-year developmental program that provides members of the Army Acquisition Workforce with expanded training through educational, leader development and broadening assignments. Similar to his decision to join Army ROTC, Taylor had just 24 hours to apply for the program once he heard about it.

Despite his last-minute start in the program, he has plenty of good things to say about his participation. “The CDG program came along at the right time in my career to broaden my experience, and the ASA(ALT) rotation allowed me to meet a host of people from different backgrounds. It taught me that networking and timing are crucial to one’s success in the government. Exposure to the people I met through CDG expanded my network and helped me realize how important relationships are to building a successful career.”

That networking has become extremely valuable as he works through what he sees as “cultural differences” in how acquisition gets done. “Occasionally I encounter people who aren’t aware of what I have to offer because they don’t know about my combat arms background or they think I’m not as experienced in acquisition as I am,” he said. “But once the people I’m working with learn about my background, they’re interested in the different perspectives I can bring to a project. In one rotation with a contracting shop, for example, the people in that organization realized I had program management experience, and asked for my insight on approaching a particular issue.”

He hopes more people take advantage of the CDG/AAF, either through participating or through working with program participants. “I encountered a lot of people who hadn’t heard of the program. I would think agencies would jump at the opportunity to develop aspiring acquisition professionals through rotational opportunities at no cost to the organization.”

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Faces of the Force

“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 contact 703-664-5635.

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