COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Joint Program Executive Office for Armaments and Ammunition, Program Manager Towed Artillery Systems
TITLE: Financial manager
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 13
ACQUISITIONS CERTIFICATIONS: Level III in business-financial management
EDUCATION: MBA, Florida Institute of Technology; B.A. in accounting, Moravian College
by Ellen Summey
Matthew Adams is a case study in why people choose to devote their careers to the U.S. Army as government civilians. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the desire to make a positive difference nearly always tops the list of the biggest draws of federal work—and the job security and opportunities for career growth aren’t far behind. For Adams, his “aha! moment” about the importance of the Army acquisition mission happened during his first acquisition job. “Working in a program management office, you are constantly procuring items to field and sustain the fleet,” he said. “My first acquisition position was a journey-level financial management analyst, supporting a small survey program. It was amazing to see items that were procured by our office make it to the field for Soldiers to use.”
Adams began his Army career in 2008, working as an engineering technician. In that role, he said he “was reviewing technical data drawings to support procurements,” he said, adding that he was drawn to the mission and the possibilities for growth as an Army civilian, and that he knew he had found the right place to build a career. After about five years as an engineering technician, he transitioned to a financial analyst role at the Armaments Research and Development Center in 2013, which is now the Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center, at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey.
Today, more than 13 years after that first experience, Adams works as the financial lead for a program management office at the Joint Program Executive Office for Armaments and Ammunition (JPEO A&A) at Picatinny Arsenal. “At Program Manager Towed Artillery Systems [PM TAS], we are part of a team that develops, equips and sustains towed cannon artillery and survey systems for Soldiers, Marines and international partners,” he said. “Being a part of the Army Acquisition Workforce, you get the opportunity to see technologies from infancy to the grave.”
And PM TAS has technologies in spades—several models of towed howitzer, the howitzer digitization mission and M119 digital fire control systems, the M111A1 navigation and surveying system, and even the 122 mm D30 non-standard howitzer. “People are sometimes surprised by the size and scope of the work that we accomplish at Picatinny Arsenal,” he said. “A lot of locals don’t even realize that this work, and so many other efforts that are vital to our military, have been done at Picatinny Arsenal, right in their ‘back yards,’ for a hundred years.”
Recently, Adams completed a five-month developmental assignment with the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for plans, programs and resources (DASA(PPR)), something he said he found very helpful for his overall understanding of the acquisition enterprise. “Being able to spend some time doing a developmental assignment at the Pentagon was very beneficial in helping me see the bigger picture. Most people don’t realize how many priorities that the Army needs to resource to be the decisive force,” he said. Adams learned that applying resources to Army programs requires a delicate and deliberate balancing act, navigating many competing priorities and keeping a sharp focus on the bottom line—equipping Soldiers. “The development assignment was eye opening to see how many different programs exist in the Army. It really puts your program into perspective.”
When he offers career advice to junior acquisition personnel, he encourages them to take advantage of the many opportunities for growth and education that exist in the Army Acquisition Workforce. “Explore as many opportunities as you can,” he said. “There are so many programs and assignments available to you, which will help you to grow and become more effective in your career. Don’t rule out trying something new, just because it’s unfamiliar or uncomfortable. Give it a shot.” Equally as important, he said, is having a plan for your career. Organizing his day is an important first step, he said. “Planning is a key to success. Having a plan at the beginning of the day can set you up for success.” As the saying goes, “no plan survives first contact with the enemy,” and each new day will present its challenges, but Adams said that having a plan for each day helps to keep him on track. “Things are always going to pop up, and urgent meetings will still come in, but staying focused on my plan is a way to keep myself focused.”
Outside of work, you can often find Adams on the golf course—something he said he enjoys, that also has commonalities with his work. “When time permits, I enjoy trying to squeeze in a round of golf. Anyone who plays golf can tell you, it is a game that teaches you patience. That is a very valuable skill to have with everyday work. It’s about keeping things in perspective—you can’t get everything done in one day.”
Adams has learned, both in his work and in his free time, that it’s important to keep the end goal in mind. With patience, perspective and determination, he stays focused on the goal of providing the best equipment to American Soldiers and joint partners. For Adams and countless others in the acquisition workforce, it’s all about the mission.
“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/.