COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support
TITLE: Industrial base lead
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 12 years
DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level III in engineering; Level I in test and evaluation, and program management
EDUCATION: M.S. in engineering management, Wayne State University; B.S. in industrial engineering, Wayne State University
AWARDS: Army Civilian Achievement Award 2018
HOMETOWN: Royal Oak, Michigan
by Ellen Summey
No matter the job, no matter the place, Adrennia Hughley is determined to enjoy her work. “I refuse to be bored,” she said. “I can get along with almost anybody and I truly think that work is what you make it.”
If you’ve had the pleasure of working with someone like Hughley, you’ll recognize her type of energy and professionalism. She’s the consummate facilitator and planner. The person who volunteers for special projects. The optimist who always tries to support her team. Combine those natural talents with her professional training in engineering and logistics, and it’s evident why she’s a great fit for her job as industrial base lead at the Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support (PEO CS&CSS). “That’s my title, but that’s not everything I do,” she said. Indeed, Hughley has quite the litany of responsibilities, but when she explains her role to others, she prefers to keep it simple. “I help our part of the Army ensure its industrial base is ready and robust to meet any challenge we may have in producing life-saving equipment for our troops.”
She likes the idea of supporting a cause bigger than herself, which is how she first became involved in acquisition. Hughley had been working in the automotive industry for a decade, supporting General Motors vehicle engineering and production in Michigan. “A coworker suggested I apply for a job at the CCDC Ground Vehicle Systems Center (formerly the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC) in 2007,” she recalled. “My first acquisition position was as a general engineer supporting MRAP (mine-resistant ambush protected) light tactical vehicles activities.” Just eight months later, she volunteered to be the first depot liaison at Anniston Army Depot in Alabama, which meant she would be stationed at Anniston for five months. “There were no other volunteers” because it was a pretty uncommon job, she said, “but coming from the automotive manufacturing background, the assignment wasn’t a big deal for me.”
In fact, it turned out to be a great opportunity for Hughley. She was subsequently asked to run the depot liaison program, which she expanded to include Red River Army Depot in Texas. Through her work developing solutions in that program over the next three years, she built relationships with various Army program managers, TARDEC and representatives from private industry. “I learned firsthand the inner workings of the depot mission to Army and partnerships with PMs and commercial industry,” she said. “I was able to form business relationships that I still leverage in my career today.”
She sees the depot experience as pivotal in her career and she advises junior acquisition personnel to consider taking those sorts of unconventional opportunities. “Don’t be afraid to volunteer for a developmental assignment,” she said. “Take the opportunity to learn all you can. The experience and exposure can be invaluable, as well as the contacts you develop along the way.”
And speaking of volunteering, she’s not just paying lip service to charitable causes. Hughley is involved in a long list of charities and community outreach projects in her free time. Clothing and backpack drives, cancer walks, vacation Bible school, inner-city youth programs—you could be forgiven for wondering where she finds the time. “I’m definitely an extrovert,” she said. “I’m energetic and I like collaboration, and I try to share my gifts with others.” Also an avid scrapbooker and card maker, she hosts instructional events at retreats and craft shops to teach those skills to new crafters. “I teach people how to tap into their creative side,” she said. “This is a hobby that brings me happiness, so it’s twice as fun when I can share it with someone else and watch them enjoy it as well.”
Lots of people have aspirations to do those kinds of things—like volunteering and teaching classes—but Hughley isn’t one to just sit and think on a good idea. She likes to get it done. “I think it’s funny,” she laughed, “I always find myself ‘nominated’ to support office morale events, because people know I’m inclusive and I’ll make it happen.” At work and in her personal life, she is known as an energetic, optimistic and creative person. “I leverage my creative side to think outside of the box when trying to resolve complex scenarios,” she said, “but I’m also realistic about getting the job done.”
But that’s not the most important tool in her arsenal. She said the most meaningful lesson she has learned during the course of her career involves just two words. “It doesn’t cost you anything and means a lot to everyone,” she said. “Always say, ‘Thank you.’ I try to say it to everyone who helps me with anything.” It takes a large group of talented and committed individuals to accomplish the Army’s work, and Hughley recognizes that. “The work that gets done here is because of a team,” she said. “We cannot do what we do for Soldiers by ourselves, so I say ‘Thank you!’ ”
In the world of Army acquisition, where it can be a challenge to balance competing priorities, an array of stakeholders and complex regulatory hurdles, a personal and creative approach like hers can make the difference between success and stagnation. Not that stagnation is an option for Hughley. She wouldn’t sit still even if she could—it’s not in her nature.
“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/.
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