LEARN, WORK, REPEAT

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TITLE: Program Analyst
COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space, Strategic and Operational Rockets and Missiles Project Office
ACQUISITION CAREER FIELD: Business – Financial Management
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 15
MILITARY OR CIVILIAN: Civilian
AAW/DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level III in business – financial management, Level I in program management
EDUCATION: MBA, Florida Institute of Technology; B.S. in business finance, Auburn University
HOMETOWN: Madison, Alabama

 


 

Casey Shepard

 

by Ellen Summey

 

Casey Shepard had an obvious guide to follow when first embarking on her career. “My father was a career Army civilian,” she said. “He worked as an engineer in a number of missile programs at Redstone Arsenal [Alabama] for over 40 years.” For Shepard, it seemed natural to follow his lead, but in a field of her own choosing. “I first became an Army civilian in a summer hire role as a cooperative employee, while working on my undergraduate degree in finance at Auburn University.” She said she enjoyed having the opportunity to work and gain experience in her field while still completing her degree, and she received guidance from the more experienced members of her team. “The people I worked with not only guided me as a new Army employee, but they also provided mentoring that has proven invaluable to me throughout my career.”

The cooperative job was a game changer, Shepard said. “It was a way to ensure employment after I graduated, in the field I went to school for. I started my MBA just eight months later—I think my path would have been completely different if it had not been for that experience.” In addition, she said the Army Acquisition Workforce (AAW) provides a wide array of opportunities for its members, from education and training to a huge variety of programs and products available. “Redstone Arsenal is a hub for aviation, missiles and air defense, so it creates countless opportunities to continue your professional growth and advancement.”

Today, Shepard is a program analyst in the Strategic and Operational Rockets and Missiles (STORM) Project Office, within the Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space (PEO M&S). In this role, she is responsible for managing the funding for the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS), a surface-to-missile system used to attack, neutralize, suppress and destroy targets using indirect precision fires. The standard GMLRS has a range of up to 70 kilometers, while the extended range version can reach 150 kilometers. GMLRS munitions have greater accuracy than ballistic rockets, with a higher probability of kill and a reduced logistics footprint. “I ensure that funding is obligated to the various contracts responsible for procuring GMLRS rockets for the Army,” she said. “Precision munitions are of critical importance to the Army, and it is extremely professionally satisfying to know that I am a part of a team that supports the Army and the warfighter by ensuring that GMLRS rockets are always available when the Army needs them.”

American service members and our allies used GMLRS rockets extensively in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. “When I describe my work to others, they are often surprised by the fact that our systems—the Multiple Launch Rocket System, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, GMLRS and Army Tactical Missile System—are not only important to the U.S. Army, but also to the U.S. Marine Corps, and numerous other countries through foreign military sales and cooperative partnerships,” she said. “The STORM team is a remarkable group of professionals that are serious about the mission of supporting the warfighter and providing a world-class weapon system.”

When offering advice to newer AAW members, Shepard stresses the importance of continuous learning. “My best recommendation is to immediately and continuously seek opportunities to grow, both professionally and personally,” she said. “Army acquisition offers so many opportunities through Defense Acquisition University and industry, as well as civilian education, that makes it easy to gain knowledge and experience in your career field as well as other related fields.” She has tried to do the same in her own career, taking advantage of training opportunities and also accepting the challenge of a temporary position at the PEO M&S headquarters in 2016. Even though the job wasn’t a good long-term match for Shepard, she said she gained valuable insights from the experience. “I truly enjoyed the job change and new coworkers but definitely realized that I enjoy working more in the weeds than at a higher level,” she said. “I would recommend to others who are thinking of doing something like that to better understand what you are looking for in a job and where you fit in best.”

The most important lesson she has learned so far in her career is that it’s not about the big picture, but rather about the small things. “I think that attention to detail has been the most important lesson I’ve learned throughout my career. Because I specifically work with funding, it is extremely important to constantly check and verify that the funding documents and accounting for each funding line is always accurate.” Additionally, she said that effective communication and the ability to take breaks when needed are crucial for the proper functioning of any team. “Always walk away from your computer when frustrated! Taking a lap outside does wonders for the soul.”

Speaking of taking a lap, Shepard enjoys going for a run in her free time, too. And because no one can run all the time, she likes to balance her penchant for exercise with baking and spending time with her young family. Any parent will tell you that raising young children is a job unlike any other, but Shepard said there are definite parallels between her family life and her work. “Being a wife and mother, I am constantly assessing situations and temperaments, making sure my people have what they need when they need it. Just like at work, I try my best to have the people around me happy and informed.” And there are similarities between baking and budgets, as well—both require strict attention to detail, and there is always something new to learn. In her personal life and her career, Shepard follows the same recipe: learn, work, repeat.

 


 

“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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