CAREER NAVIGATOR: A PORT IN THE STORM

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ROUGH SEAS: The stakeholder network can answer a boat-load of questions and help workforce members as they navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of career planning and development. (Images by Getty Images)

 

 

The acquisition workforce stakeholder network can help workforce members untangle career requirements.

 

by Jacqueline M. Hames

There’s no getting around it—having a career is work. It’s not just performing assigned duties, or assigned duties plus any extras that may pop up. It is the managing of your own career. Keeping up with job-required training, career development opportunities, continuous learning points and any number of other “administrative” things can be a job unto itself. If you have ever found yourself adrift in a sea of policy and requirements, trying to figure out the next step in your career, don’t worry—the acquisition stakeholder network is here to help.

The acquisition workforce stakeholder network is a group of selected professionals who advocate for and assist Army Acquisition Workforce (AAW) members in planning and developing their careers. These professionals have direct contact with AAW members at the tactical level—they are supervisors, organizational acquisition points of contact (OAPs) and acquisition career managers. They help workforce members with general acquisition career management guidance and an array of acquisition career-related matters. At the strategic level, the network consists of senior leaders who serve as acquisition career management advocates, Army acquisition functional advisors and Army acquisition functional leaders. These senior leaders are instrumental in advocating for the AAW in all career development matters, as well as providing strategic vision and advice related to training program management and policy development.

But what workforce members really need to know is where to go first for answers and advice: the tactical level. 

THROW ME A LINE: If you feel like you are adrift in a sea of policies and requirements, don’t worry—the acquisition stakeholder network is here to help.

BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING

Have questions about a career move? Start with your supervisor. Supervisors will be able to help with the basics, like identifying what required training is next for your position or telling you about potential development opportunities. “The supervisor is the first level of defense for the workforce member,” said Kim Gibbons, an acquisition career manager with the Director of Acquisition Career Management (DACM) Office. Supervisors provide one-on-one counseling and ensure AAW members understand their position requirements, she said.

“Once they have a conversation with that supervisor, if that supervisor is unable to provide the adequate assistance or [is] unable to answer [an acquisition question], then [the supervisor] can elevate it up to the acquisition organization point of contact. An OAP is appointed through the organization,” Gibbons said. If the OAP can’t help, then the question is pushed to an acquisition career manager at the DACM Office—each OAP has a career manager liaison that supports them and the command they work for, she said.

According to the DACM Office, an OAP’s role is to provide general acquisition career management guidance, respond to Career Acquisition Personnel and Position Management System (CAPPMIS) data calls, and ensure timely announcement of Army acquisition education and training programs in support of a designated organization. In other words, OAPs ensure that supervisors and AAW members have all the training requirements for certification, said Jennifer Marshall, the lead OAP for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) C5ISR Center.

“We’re here to help the acquisition workforce. That’s our job,” Marshall said. “If ever they’re in doubt or there’s a grey area, they should be able to reach out to us because that’s what we do. We provide customer service to answer any and all questions.”

Workforce members should be aware that OAPs are not in that role exclusively. “We are typically dual-hatted,” said Bridget Patrick-Dollberg, a management analyst and lead OAP at the DEVCOM Armaments Center. She is also the telework coordinator and the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program point of contact and victim advocate for her organization. Like many other OAPs, interacting with the workforce is just one of her many duties. She is grateful to workforce members for their patience while waiting on answers to their questions, especially now with the implementation of the Back-to-Basics certification framework in full swing.

SHINE SOME LIGHT: Workforce members who have questions about a career move should start with their supervisor. Supervisors will be able to help with things like identifying required training or potential development opportunities.

EXTENDED HELP

Acquisition career managers work hand-in-hand with OAPs to give workforce members the answers they need to succeed, Gibbons said. The career managers work within the United States Army Acquisition Support Center’s DACM Office, assisting AAW members with their Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) certifications, acquisition career record briefs, individual development plans, questions regarding training and education program applications—anything that is acquisition career affiliated, she explained.

For example, “when a workforce member is trying to apply for their DAWIA certification within the [Certification Management System] module in the CAPPMIS [Career Acquisition Personnel and Position Management Information System] database, they may have some sort of complications or challenges where they don’t receive a green check for all of the criteria that [are] needed for certification,” Gibbons said. If that is the case, the workforce member could submit an inquiry through the help desk, and the acquisition career manager would walk the employee through the process to correct it.

For questions about DACM Office leader development programs, the acquisition career manager coordinates with that program manager and relays the information to the OAP or employee, Gibbons explained.

Of course, with Back-to-Basics in play, things are going to work a little differently. While the acquisition career managers’ roles will remain mostly the same, the OAPs will have to do some adjusting.

“It’s an exciting time for the acquisition community because it’s revamping itself with Back-to-Basics,” Marshall said. The OAPs’ roles are changing because some of the requirements they would help workforce members with are going away. Now, “it’s about educating our workforce” on what the Back-to-Basics certification framework is and what it looks like across the infrastructure of the acquisition community, she said.

She believes the OAPs are the unsung heroes of the transition into this new framework. “Everybody is being impacted by this, and so it’s adjusting the culture and trying to educate the workforce, supervisors included, on what it means,” she said. “That’s a round-the-clock effort.”

CONCLUSION

Supervisors, OAPs, acquisition career managers and the rest of the stakeholder network can answer a boat-load of questions and help workforce members navigate the treacherous waters of career planning and development. But it is critical for employees to remember that each individual is in charge of their own career.

“Hold yourself accountable,” Gibbons said. “Take responsibility. You are your best acquisition career manager. You’re in the driver’s seat. No one can navigate your career better than you—you can ask for guidance from mentors and senior leaders, but ultimately, you are in control of your career.”

 


 

For more information on the acquisition workforce stakeholder network, go to https://go.usa.gov/xteW4.

JACQUELINE M. HAMES is an editor with Army AL&T magazine. She holds a B.A. in creative writing from Christopher Newport University. She has more than 10 years of experience writing and editing news and feature articles for publication.

   

Read the full article in the Spring 2022 issue of Army AL&T magazine. 
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