COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND)
TITLE: Assistant joint program executive officer for logistics
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 18
YEARS OF MILITARY SERVICE: 21
DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Advanced in program management; Advanced in life cycle logistics
EDUCATION: M.S. in national resource strategy, Industrial College of the Armed Forces National Defense University; Master of Public Administration, University of Oklahoma; B.A. in history, Eastern Washington University; Executive certificate in management and leadership, MIT Sloan School of Administration; Senior Executive Fellows, Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government.
AWARDS: Meritorious Civilian Service Award, Armed Forces Civilian Service Medal, Army Commander’s Award for Civilian Service; Legion of Merit; six Meritorious Service Medals; three Army Commendation Medals; two Army Achievement Medals.
by Holly DeCarlo-White
“Work requires an occasional mess, a vision for how it could be and a plan,” said Emma Wilson, assistant joint program executive officer for logistics at the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND). Wilson oversees and manages the JPEO-CBRND headquarters logistics staff’s support to the Joint Project Offices and the joint program executive officer, and she tends to her work with the same enthusiasm as she has for her garden. “I am happiest when I am elbow deep in dirt or when pruning back plants trying to make order out of nature,” she said.
Wilson also oversees the JPEO’s audit readiness, supporting joint project managers and joint project leads internal control administrators and audit points of contact, and is their acquisition career management advocate (ACMA). As the ACMA she supports the Army Director for Acquisition Career Management Office and joint program executive office leadership as a resource for the workforce and to ensure dissemination of important information. “This was critical during the transition to B2B [Back-to-Basics]. It was the command’s intent the workforce understands what was happening and be prepared,” Wilson said.
As a 21-year Army veteran and career Army civilian, her greatest satisfaction in being a part of the Army Acquisition Workforce is knowing that her efforts are supporting the warfighter.
“My last assignment in the military was at the Pentagon, where I was assigned to ASA(ALT) [assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology], working in integrated logistics support. That was my first experience in acquisition,” Wilson said. “My career up to that point had been mainly tactical communications. When I retired from the military and was hired as an Army civilian, I was able to join the [formerly named] Army Acquisition Corps and became certified for life cycle logistics.”
Wilson retired as a lieutenant colonel, 25A signal officer. Her first civilian position was the executive officer for the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for integrated logistics support in ASA(ALT).
“In my 13 years at the JPEO I have served in 10 positions, which has given me a unique breadth of experience in nearly all aspects of the work this organization does on behalf of the warfighter,” she said. “That experience is proving quite useful in my current role, as logistics in the CBRND world is a complex and fascinating field. Our PEOs need to ensure the equipment we field can be supported by all of the services and the special operations forces.” The best example, Wilson said, is their work to create a process that meets all of the service’s integrated logistics assessment requirements. “The complexity at my level is understanding the service’s policy and disseminating it, ensuring the tools are available to the product support managers,” she said.
Wilson acknowledges that getting to this point in her career is not without guidance from civilian mentorship and furthering her education. Her decision to apply for Senior Service College (SSC) was one of the most important points of her career, as it required her to leave her current position following completion of the training. “As a result of this I ended up at the JPEO after I completed Industrial College of the Armed Forces [now known as the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy],” Wilson said. “I think I spent too long at the headquarters level [both ASA (ALT) and JPEO] before moving to a project office. I wish I had moved to a product or project office earlier than I did, because it became a gap in my training and development.” She attended the MIT Sloan School of Administration and received an executive certificate in management and leadership in 2012 to address the gap she faced in technology management.
The last career development program she participated in was a detail at the Department of Health and Human Services in 2020 supporting Operation Warp Speed project and product managers. “It not only allowed me to use my acquisition skills on a project I felt was important but gave me a better understanding of medical programs and the development challenges of medical countermeasures,” said Wilson.
Wilson gives these three pieces of advice to junior acquisition personnel:
- Stay open to opportunities and do not become too focused or narrow in your options until you have tried out a few positions.
- You are your best advocate and career manager. “I advise them not to count on good luck but to prepare themselves for future opportunities,” Wilson said.
- Do not solely focus on acquisition training. Take the Civilian Education System training as well to have a well-rounded training base to build on.
The most important lesson she has learned over the course of her career? “Our accomplishments and successes are not ours alone,” she said. “They are built on the people that came ahead of us and the support and work of those we live and work with now.”
“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/.