Dewayne Grant, then serving with the 4th Battalion, 123rd Aviation Regiment (Arctic Warriors), stands in front of a helicopter in 1996 at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Dewayne Grant)
COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Mission and Installation Contracting Command
TITLE: Procurement analyst
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 7
YEARS OF MILITARY SERVICE: 23
DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: DOD contracting professional
EDUCATION: M.S. in logistics and supply chain management, B.S. professional aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
AWARDS: Civilian Service Achievement Medal (2021)
Dewayne Anthony Grant
by Holly DeCarlo-White
Dewayne Anthony Grant is a retired Army helicopter mechanic turned procurement analyst for the Mission and Installation Contracting Command. In this role he uses business intelligence tools—automated software that will collect, organize, visualize and analyze data—and other automated reporting systems to look at trend and spend analysis to promote strategic sourcing in order to obtain the best services and supplies in the industry to meet the warfighter’s needs.
“It’s important to understand what industry has to offer the Army to leverage the taxpayers’ dollars so that our warfighters have the best and most reliable services and supplies needed to complete any mission,” said Grant.
Grant chose the acquisition field because he was interested to know the process of how Soldiers were receiving and acquiring supplies and services—something he was never privy to during his military service.
“The greatest satisfaction in being part of the Army Acquisition Workforce is that I get to continue to serve like I did when I was on active duty ensuring that Soldiers receive their needed services and supplies during peacetime to maintain their wartime capabilities that will allow them to fight and win on the battlefield,” he said. Grant retired in 2008 as a platoon sergeant with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.
Grant joined the Army Acquisition Workforce through the U.S. Department of State’s Recent Graduates Program that provides developmental experiences in the federal government, and was hired through the federal government’s Internship Program as a contract specialist, which consisted of pre-award, post-award and closeouts of contracting actions. He said the most appealing thing about this role was the amount of research of regulations and policies, such as Defense and Army Federal Acquisition Regulations and supplements, the work entailed. Being informed on these regulations helped him to identify the best applicable contract vehicles for the resources he was responsible to procure.
Known by others for being a persistent learner, when Grant was a mechanic on a UH-60 Black Hawk for example, he loved researching to make sure his helicopter was performing to meet mission needs. “Acquisition affords me the same opportunity [to continuously learn],” he said.
“Once I graduated the intern program, I really knew this career field was for me,” Grant said. He completed the 24-month Internship Program in 2017 and said there is satisfaction in knowing that through his and his coworkers’ efforts, Soldiers and taxpayers are getting the best and most reliable supplies and services.
The most important thing to Grant about the acquisition workforce is the ability to serve in numerous career field positions like cost and price, procurement analyst, contract specialist or contracting officer. “This allows me to broaden my capabilities and keep learning my craft at the highest level and at the right time for whatever position I might find myself wanting to pursue,” he said.
Grant recommends the Defense Civilian Emerging Leaders Program (DCELP) to everyone. He graduated from the course in May, and explained that DCELP focuses on leadership traits and builds on what he learned from the Inspiring and Developing Excellence in Acquisition Leaders (IDEAL) program that he completed in August 2020.
“[DCELP] helped me to further enhance my leadership style and capabilities,” Grant said. With COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time, he learned especially that the workforce can still operate through nonconventional “in-person” settings, for example, within Microsoft Teams. “This course really brought that leadership trait out in all who attended,” he said, adding that current, real-world scenarios that keep you abreast of what challenges are being faced in the workforce are also taught. One slide from the course entitled: “Our Purpose in the ‘New Normal,’ ” specifically sticks with Grant. He quoted author and retired Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal: “ ‘Digital leadership’ was not in the job description for our generation, but it became a critical skill for all of us to learn in the fast-moving and constantly changing fight.”
Grant’s top three takeaways from the course were, first, understanding that the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic do not stop a team from working collaboratively virtually to get the mission done. Second, it is okay to disagree or to be challenged by team members and faculty as this allows you to grow as a person and to better understand and see your authentic self. Lastly, it is important to understand how or when it’s okay to show vulnerability, as this action can have an overwhelming effect on team members as well as employees under your leadership.
Grant advises junior acquisition personnel to keep striving to perfect their craft through courses like DCELP and IDEAL to be prepared to lead in any role assigned. “Leadership does not have to be in the form of an appointed supervisor, it can be just mentoring a new employee or a coworker,” he said. “Just keep learning.”
He enjoys mentoring newly assigned contracting officers as well as just helping coworkers, he said. “The acquisition field will not slow down with all the challenges from new policies, regulations and smaller congressional budgets,” Grant continued. “We must be prepared to find new ways of acquiring the best cost advantage supplies and services for our country and warfighters.”
Continuous learning has allowed Grant to adjust his leadership style to what is currently happening in the workforce. “One can’t become stagnant and expect old leadership styles and traits to apply to the workforce as it is today,” he said. The most important lesson Grant has learned on the job is to listen. He has had to adapt to team members’ ideas and learn to really digest what others were conveying before speaking, understanding that some of his solutions or recommendations may not be the most viable or cost effective for the situation. He said of all the skills, knowledge and experiences he has, the one he applies now the most is truly listening to people before weighing in. “I have found out that talking just to talk provides no value to the situation or topic at hand,” he said. “There are so many new challenges within the current workforce that require leaders and subordinates to fully understand the diverse workforce and the continued challenges being presented in our ever-changing global world.”
Outside of work, Grant applies similar learning and adapting techniques to master his cooking (grilling) skills to serve his friends and family the best meal when they gather. “This attitude is the same approach I apply on my job daily,” he said. The same way he strives to procure quality products and services for the warfighter Grant said, “I prepare my food so that I get the most flavor and best cuts of meat that I hope will satisfy my friends.”
“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/.