COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support, Joint Program Office for Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, Product Lead for Ground Mobility Vehicles
TITLE: Engineering branch chief
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 11
AAW/DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level III in engineering and technical management, Level I in test and evaluation, Level I in production, quality and manufacturing
EDUCATION: MBA, Lawrence Technological University; M.S. in mechanical engineering, Oakland University; B.S. in mechanical engineering, Lawrence Technological University
AWARDS: Army Civilian Service Commendation Medal, 2018 and 2020; Army Civilian Service Achievement Medal, 2014
Jeffrey M. Shtogrin
by Ellen Summey
For Jeffrey Shtogrin, life is all about balance. Early in his career as young engineer, he worked a demanding job in the automotive industry, where he felt he had to work 60 hours a week in order to contribute and grow in his profession. On top of that, he also felt that his work wasn’t particularly important. “At one point, when I was at Hyundai, I was working on cup holders,” he said. “It just lacked meaning.” A colleague suggested that he consider working as an Army civilian, both for a better work-life balance and for a more significant mission. “I felt like the opportunity to work for the government, to work for the Army and for Soldiers, would provide more meaning.” And he had heard great things about the Army’s more flexible work schedule and supportive team environment.
He applied and was hired as a system integration engineer in Warren, Michigan, at what was then the Program Executive Office for Integration (now referred to as the System of Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate). The transition was challenging. Throughout his first six months as an Army civilian, he wasn’t sure he would stay. “It was a difficult time because I didn’t really know anybody,” he said. “The unit was going through a major transition, so there were a lot of people coming and going. I learned a lot about the Army organization, and about working with Soldiers.” He can laugh about it now, but it took him some time to learn the “language” of Army acquisition. “Starting out, I didn’t know what a bumper number was, what a motor pool was, or what a property book owner was,” he chuckled.
But throughout the last five years, he has finally found his groove. When he was able to use his experience in the automotive industry and his understanding of acquisition, everything started to make sense. “I felt like I was learning to be a competent acquisition professional, and I understood how to contribute,” he said. “I’m learning, I’m growing, I’m developing, in addition to giving back to the office and supporting Soldiers. It’s the whole idea of balance—I’m giving to the office the most that I can, but I’m also getting something out of it in terms of learning and experience.”
When it comes to work-life balance, Shtogrin said some people just don’t get it. “People could say, ‘Well, you just don’t want to work hard,’ but that’s not the case. Life is all about balance, and maintaining that balance is very difficult to do. It sounds like a very easy thing, but it’s easy to say and not so easy to do. And balance doesn’t mean you’re always right on the center. There will be times when you have to dedicate more to work, and times when you have to dedicate more to family, but on average, trying to stay centered is key—at least for me.”
Today, Shtogrin is the engineering branch chief for Ground Mobility Vehicles at the Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support, where he leads and supervises a team of platform system engineers who work with industry to design, develop, test, field and sustain systems for Soldiers. He said his biggest challenge and his greatest source of satisfaction is streamlining the acquisition process while also maintaining the appropriate level of engineering rigor to deliver quality systems to the field.
As the Army focuses more on Soldier-centered design, which integrates Soldier feedback into the product design and fielding processes, Shtogrin said he has really enjoyed the change. “I’ve been involved, more than I ever actually imagined, with Soldiers. Just over the last five years at Product Lead Ground Mobility Vehicles, I’ve done three different touch points where we’ve actually worked with the Soldiers, we’ve brought the systems out there and run them through their paces, collected data through surveys, and then incorporated that feedback into the product itself,” he said.
“You work in an office all year round—or in this case, from our homes—and you think that what you’re working on is going to meet expectations. But when you’re at one of those events and you see their initial reactions to the system, you see them operating the vehicles, you see how they’re going to be using them, or how they could be using them differently, and then giving their feedback when they come back in, that is really gratifying. It kind of confirms what you’ve been doing, in some cases for the last several years. It reenergizes you and makes you remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.”
When he offers advice to junior acquisition personnel, he often focuses on that point—the importance of understanding how and why your work contributes to the larger mission. “Regardless of what you are working on, always make sure you understand the intent behind the work you are doing. If you truly understand the intent, your work will have more meaning to you and you will more than likely exceed your leaders’ expectations,” he said. He also encourages his teammates to have the courage to try new things. “There are no jobs or assignments that you will not learn and grow from, or that will limit you, early in your career,” he said. “Always take the time to invest in yourself. Take advantage of opportunities, whether a new position or some training that could lead to an advanced degree or certification. You never know what your future will hold, so continue to build value within yourself.”
Shtogrin takes a sensible approach to his life and his career, always seeking to maximize his contribution to the mission while also focusing on his own personal growth and time with his family. Sometimes it takes an engineer to build a life in balance.
“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/.