COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Joint Program Executive Office for Armaments and Ammunition (JPEO A&A), Project Manager Combat Ammunition Systems (PM CAS)
TITLE: Program Analyst Team Lead
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 12
AAW/DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level III in business, financial management
EDUCATION: MBA, Florida Institute of Technology; B.S. in business administration, American University
AWARDS: PM CAS Excellence Award (2020 and 2021); Department of the Army Commander’s Award for Civilian Service (2017); Department of the Army Achievement Medal for Civilian Service (2013)
Christine M. Berg
by Cheryl Marino
Choosing the right career and navigating the best path forward can be challenging, unless you have the right education, experience and most of all, a solid support system. Christine Berg has what it takes, but mainly attributes her career advancement to the support of her family, a network of mentors, business managers and coworkers who have empowered her along her journey and challenged her with opportunities for growth both personally and professionally. Now, she’s paying it forward.
“I was very lucky to have people who invested time and energy in me and offered opportunities that I didn’t even realize existed,” she said. “So, as I enter a new phase of my career, where I’m responsible for other people, I’m sharing my knowledge and guiding new team members in navigating their acquisition careers—because I was really lucky to have had people do that for me.”
Berg currently serves as a program analysis team leader within Project Manager Combat Ammunition Systems (PM CAS), where she is responsible for programming, budgeting and execution of financial resources currently totaling $1.1 billion across multiple research, development and acquisition appropriations, foreign military sales, special defense acquisition funding and other service budget authority.
In addition to budgeting and managing funding for her assigned programs, she leads a team of interns, journeymen and senior analysts, overseeing the financial management of various Acquisition Category (ACAT) II, III and IV programs, and serves as the senior financial advisor for several high-priority programs aligned to the Long-Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team in pursuit of Army modernization, in accordance with the National Defense Strategy.
Berg began her career with the Acquisitions Workforce as a summer intern at the Project Director Joint Services (PD JS). “It was funny because I was supposed to work in the DEVCOM AC [Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center] financial management directorate to see if I would be a good fit for the organization after college, but someone else picked up my résumé in Program Manager Demilitarization [PM Demil]. So, I spent the summer working with that organization doing different types of analyses, and was fortunate that the team leader within the business division took time to mentor me,” she said. “I’ve moved around a lot in the last 12 years, but I feel like I’ve benefitted from a lot of different experiences.”
It was her dream to work in the financial services sector, but Berg said her early experiences in the acquisition workforce, and opportunities like formal training programs, postgraduate education and developmental assignments, as well as well-defined career paths allowing for advancement made the Army a more appealing choice right from the start. “It was evident that the Army invests in its people, and that was important to me when seeking my first job.”
She said a big part of that investment was the guidance she received from those within the JPEO Armaments and Ammunition community who took the time to explain what her job would entail, and the opportunities that were available to her. “People invest a lot of time in you, and since outlining these opportunities as an acquisition professional was of great benefit, I welcome the opportunity to pay it forward with junior staff members.”
Berg said the experience she’s gained across the entire JPEO would not have been possible without the help of her mentors.
After five years with Joint Services, where she advanced from intern to a senior program analyst, Berg had reached a pivotal point in her career and decided it was time for a change. She said Cathy Heslin, who was then the business manager, became a mentor and friend—steering her toward her next position with JPEO A&A.
“She saw things in me that I didn’t even see in myself,” Berg said, recalling how Heslin moved mountains to help her get to the next level. “I found the job I was in challenging, but I felt like I needed exposure to different things. I shared that with her, and she was sad that I wanted to leave, but also put me ahead of her own organization, leveraged her relationship with the PEO, and said ‘Hey I have this analyst, she’s looking for a broadening experience. Would you be willing to take her on your team?’ ”erg said that Rich Stryker, then the JPEO G8 (finance) business director, was willing to give her a chance as a senior program analyst within his team. “I worked at the PEO level for two years, and that was probably the most valuable career experience I’ve had to this point. It allowed me to interact with all the subordinate organizations within the PEO, and I was able to learn more about all the different products that fall under their purview—everything from towed howitzers to grenades, to small and medium caliber ammo, to the conventional artillery and mortar ammunition, precision ammunition, mortar weapons and mortar fire control systems that I support today.”
Berg said thanks to the efforts of Heslin and Stryker, the opportunity not only advanced her career as far as working in a high-level position relatively early on, but also made her realize the importance of being people focused. “They gave me a chance,” she said. “And as a result, I was able to develop more relationships because of that position—relationships that I will take into the rest of my life.”
Berg said she’s always been “people focused,” both in and out of the office, which was especially necessary at the height of the pandemic, when professional and personal life blended together. Berg said for 15 months, she and her husband, Nick, a cannon artillery engineer at DEVCOM AC, juggled their careers while caring for their now 2-year-old son, Nicholas. “The pandemic presented unique challenges, but taking care of him gives me something to look forward to every day,” she said. “Spending time with him and seeing him develop and explore new things that we take for granted—it’s really opened my eyes to a whole new world.”
She said she encourages Nicholas, as well as junior personnel at work, to always keep exploring new things whenever possible. “I made a commitment early on to continue learning, reading and researching—that’s something I apply inside and outside of work.”
“In the early stages of your acquisition career, it’s understandable to be eager to complete all the training or work toward a given level of certification and think that you’re officially ‘done,’ ” she said. But she believes it is incredibly important to continuously “hone one’s skills and expand one’s knowledge.”
“I make a conscious effort to constantly learn and grow as an acquisition professional and an expert in my career field.”
Berg said she’s learned a lot in her career as an acquisitions professional and that a combination of independent research, a great support system, and hands-on experience helps her continue to advance in her career.
“I find serving as a resource manager within this fast-paced organization incredibly rewarding,” she said. “It is an honor to support the mission to develop, procure and field lethal armaments and ammunition to the Joint Warfighters and Allied Partners, and I am proud to do so while serving as a fiscal steward to our ultimate boss, the United States taxpayer.”
“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/.