Civilian women making waves in acquisition leadership positions

Lareina Adams, second from left, poses with other graduates, instructors and guests during Defense Acquisition University’s Senior Service College Fellowship Program graduation on May 23, 2017. Adams is currently serving as the product lead for the Headquarters Army Environmental System, PM GFEBS, at PEO EIS. She will take on her new role as product manager for Counter Explosive Hazard at PEO IEW&S in the summer of 2019. (Photo courtesy of Lareina Adams)
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by Jacqueline M. Hames

FORT BELVOIR, Va. (July 10, 2018)—The office of the Director for Acquisition Career Management (DACM) this spring announced the selection of three civilian women to run major programs for the Army. The announcement came as the DACM released the 2019 Army Acquisition Centralized Selection List, those chosen by the Army acquisition executive after recommendations from the board and the DACM to be product or project managers for acquisition programs.

The successful application of the three civilian women is noteworthy because relatively few civilians make the list regardless of gender. The board evaluates a candidate’s entire acquisition career to determine their eligibility for leadership positions; most civilians have not had the leadership training or experience that their military counterparts have, though some initiatives to encourage broader career experience for civilians are underway.

Candidates for project managers are colonels or civilian employees at the GS-15 level; product managers are lieutenant colonels or GS-14s. The 2019 Product Manager Primary List had 38 military men, 13 military women, 11 civilian men and two civilian women.

Regina Bublitz, standing beside a UH-72A Lakota helicopter at Huntsville Executive Airport in Huntsville, Alabama, in 2017, will take on her charter at Product Manager Aircraft Survivability Equipment Missile Warning Systems, PEO IEW&S, in the summer of 2019. She is currently the product director for the Light Helicopter Product Office at PEO Aviation, where she is responsible for the life cycle management of the UH-72A. (Photo courtesy of Regina Bublitz)

Regina Bublitz, standing beside a UH-72A Lakota helicopter at Huntsville Executive Airport in Huntsville, Alabama, in 2017, will take on her charter at Product Manager Aircraft Survivability Equipment Missile Warning Systems, PEO IEW&S, in the summer of 2019. She is currently the product director for the Light Helicopter Product Office at PEO Aviation, where she is responsible for the life cycle management of the UH-72A. (Photo courtesy of Regina Bublitz)

The female selectees are Christina M. Bell (who was activated from the alternate list), product manager for Special Operations Forces Training Systems, in the Program Executive Office (PEO) for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (STRI); Regina Bublitz, who is currently product director, Light Helicopter Product Office in PEO for Aviation; and Lareina Adams, currently product lead for the Headquarters Army Environmental System, Project Manager General Fund Enterprise Business System (PM GFEBS) in PEO Enterprise Information Systems (EIS).

Bell has already transitioned to her new role within PEO STRI from the deputy G-3 position, where she said she will continue to enable readiness for the warfighter in the special operations forces community. “I want to grow this team of acquisition professionals that support me and help develop them into future Army acquisition support leaders,” she said.

Both Bublitz and Adams will take on their new roles in the summer of 2019—Bublitz assuming her charter at Product Manager Aircraft Survivability Equipment Missile Warning Systems in the PEO for Intelligence Electronic Warfare and Sensors (IEW&S) and Adams at Product Manager Counter Explosive Hazard, PEO IEW&S.

Christina M. Bell, with Col. Rich Haggerty during a change of charter ceremony, officially assumed her role as product manager for Special Operations Forces Training Systems at PEO STRI in June, where she hopes to continue to enable readiness for the warfighter in the special operations forces community. (Photo courtesy of Christina Bell)

Christina M. Bell, with Col. Rich Haggerty during a change of charter ceremony, officially assumed her role as product manager for Special Operations Forces Training Systems at PEO STRI in June, where she hopes to continue to enable readiness for the warfighter in the special operations forces community. (Photo courtesy of Christina Bell)

A PATH TO SUCCESS

CSL candidates are selected based on their assignment history, how well they performed at those assignments and how the command feels about their potential. According to the April 2018 DACM newsletter, the evaluation includes the Acquisition Career Record Brief—which highlights an individual’s assignment history, certifications, acquisition and leadership training, education and awards—as well as a candidate’s resume, performance appraisals and senior rater potential evaluations.

The senior rater potential evaluation is a performance evaluation tool that a manager uses to identify an Army Acquisition Workforce employee’s leadership potential. This tool was developed to allow an easy and equitable comparison of a civilian’s leadership potential with peers and military counterparts.

This year’s female selectees all agree: A diverse background in the acquisition field is key to standing out to members of the selection board.

Bublitz started her acquisition career working for PEO IEW in the late 1980s—“way back before it was ‘&S’ ”—and since that time has worked for industry and the government in multiple PEOs and across multiple programs. “The ability to draw on the breadth of these diverse experiences has provided a solid framework for my acquisition background,” she said.

Adams began her Army civilian career as an intern for the Information Systems Engineering Command at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, before moving on to a position in the Defense Information Systems Agency, followed by a position with the Communications-Electronics Command Software Engineer Center in 2008. “In 2010, PEO EIS actually hired me into the PEO. I supported PM AcqBusiness [Product Manager Acquisition Business] for a few years, and then I went to school—I went to DAU [Defense Acquisition University] for the Senior Service College Fellowship in July of ’16,” she said. Adams graduated last year and assumed the role of product lead for Acquisition Management Support Solutions (AMS2), PEO EIS, where she was responsible for leading the acquisition and management of the AMS2 program. On June 25, Adams took over as the product lead for the Headquarters Army Environmental System, an environmental data management collection and reporting tool.

Two years ago, Adams was on the CSL but was not selected. “I think what probably made the difference this time around was having completed the SSCF [Senior Service College Fellowship], and then taking on a product lead position when I returned. The Army has also placed additional emphasis on senior rater potential evaluations for civilians, which help make us more competitive for these types of positions,” she explained.

Bell started her government career straight out of college, working for the Navy writing code for cruise missile training programs. In 2004, she transitioned to the Army and has been with PEO STRI ever since, moving around to different product manager offices, she said. “Diversity—that’s the big thing. A lot of people get stovepiped doing the same thing,” she said. Bell cautioned that such a diverse background is something individuals have to seek on their own, particularly civilians, as they do not have the same “built-in” career growth path as members of the military.

Lareina Adams, second from left, poses with other graduates, instructors and guests during Defense Acquisition University’s Senior Service College Fellowship Program graduation on May 23, 2017. Adams is currently serving as the product lead for the Headquarters Army Environmental System, PM GFEBS, at PEO EIS. She will take on her new role as product manager for Counter Explosive Hazard at PEO IEW&S in the summer of 2019. (Photo courtesy of Lareina Adams)

Lareina Adams, second from left, poses with other graduates, instructors and guests during Defense Acquisition University’s Senior Service College Fellowship Program graduation on May 23, 2017. Adams is currently serving as the product lead for the Headquarters Army Environmental System, PM GFEBS, at PEO EIS. She will take on her new role as product manager for Counter Explosive Hazard at PEO IEW&S in the summer of 2019. (Photo courtesy of Lareina Adams)

LEADING BY EXAMPLE

Diverse experience in the acquisition field helps CSL applicants stand out to the selection board, but achieving varied assignments throughout a career means getting help when needed. Having a mentor proved immensely helpful for all three selectees. “If you want to be in a leadership role, you need to work with the people who can help you figure out how to get there, rather than expecting it to come to you,” Adams said. She recommends that future CSL applicants—or anyone seeking a leadership position—make a habit of talking to people that they want to emulate.

“I think it is important not just to have female leadership in the acquisition workforce and Army, but to have good female leadership,” Bell said. “Women represent 50 percent of our population, and they need role models to look up to that model strong leadership skills. I had female leaders throughout my career that set the example for me. I believe being centrally selected by the Army for this product manager position will allow me to serve as that role model for our future Army female leaders.”

Bublitz believes that unique backgrounds and diversity of thought—regardless of gender—will lead to better problem solving.

“The Army Acquisition Corps will hit its 30-year mark next year,” she said. “I think we’ve been blessed with good leadership for nearly three decades. As we approach the 30-year mark, we are beginning unprecedented reform. The keys to success will be adaptability and ability to problem solve.”

Upcoming Boards:

The application window for the Centralized Selection List LTC/GS-14/NH-04 board is open from June 11 – July 26. Civilian candidates should apply via the Career Acquisition Management Portal/Career Acquisition Personnel and Position Management Information System (CAMP/CAPPMIS).

The application window for the Centralized Product Director Selection Board for FY19/FY20 is June 25 – Aug. 23. Qualified applicants are encouraged to apply via CAMP/CAPPMIS.

Related Link: U.S. Army Environmental Command


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