Former Marine Joe Wright brings a positive approach to second military career

By February 5, 2013September 24th, 2018Faces of the Force, Talent Management
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Faces of the Force: Henry J. “Joe” Wright


POSITION: System Acquisition Project Officer and LCM8 MOD I & II/Barge Derrick 115 Ton System Acquisition Manager
UNIT: Product Director, Army Watercraft Systems (PD AWS), Program Executive Office Combat Support and Combat Service Support (PEO CS&CSS)
LOCATION: Warren, Mich.
TOTAL YEARS OF SERVICE: 3, U.S. Army; 30, U.S. Marine Corps
DEPLOYMENTS: Vietnam, 1972-73 and 1974-1975; Iraq, 2004
EDUCATION: B.A. Business Leadership, Baker University


By Susan L. Follett


FOTF: What do you do in the Army?

WRIGHT: I serve as a system acquisition manager and systems acquisition project officer for PD AWS. In that role, I manage the modification requirements for two watercraft systems: LCM8s or “Mike Boats,” which provide utility, command and control, and light transport capabilities; and barge derrick cranes, which move heavy loads like the M1A2 Main Battle Tank from ship transports.

These capabilities enable the Army’s amphibious and riverine operations and facilitate logistical support to joint operations and campaigns, including joint land operations and intra-theater transport of time-sensitive, mission-critical personnel and materiel.

FOTF: What’s the biggest challenge you face? How do you overcome it?

WRIGHT: For most of us in the acquisition community, the biggest challenge we face is predictable funding and execution. I’ve found that back-planning is the best way to be proactive to funding constraints. I look ahead 18 months, and plan our modification programs with the assumption that the funds we need will be available. My team and I make sure that everything is ready to proceed with a project once we get the funding we need. If the funding doesn’t come through, I slide the project to the right on the calendar by at least one quarter, and keep moving it back until the funds come through.

At the same time, I keep a list of several small projects that we need to complete, so that we can capitalize on short-term funding opportunities. We’ll occasionally get a call that we’ve received an amount of funding that has to be used within the fiscal year, for example. We consult that list, and are immediately ready to capitalize on that windfall.

FOTF: What has your experience been like? What do you enjoy most about your work?

WRIGHT: My experience working with PEO CS&CSS is similar to my days as a Marine when we worked missions with the Army: the people I’ve encountered are professional and dedicated, and they’re what I enjoy most about my work. Our team includes veterans from all branches of the military, as well as some top-notch civilians, and it’s a pleasure to come to work and know that while we come from diverse backgrounds, we share the same pride in mission accomplishment.


FOTF: What do you do when you’re not working?

WRIGHT: My wife and I have five children and seven grandchildren, and are fortunate that they all live nearby. They all come home for dinner on Sundays, and I spend a lot of my free time babysitting for our grandchildren or helping our kids with home improvement projects at their houses. I recently completed the Marine Corps Marathon with two of my daughters, and in June, all five of my kids will join me in running a half-marathon in Ann Arbor, Mich.

FOTF: How do your hobbies dovetail with your work?

WRIGHT: I see my work as an extension of leading a family. As a parent, you set goals for your household and your children, provide them with the tools for success, and watch over them to ensure that goals are met. At work I have a similar role. I work to make sure that we meet our program goals, and provide assets to make sure they are met.

In both roles, I try to get the best from the people around me. Life is too short to be unhappy at work, so I keep a positive outlook and try to capitalize on the diverse talents we all have to offer.

FOTF: Why did you join the Army? What is your greatest satisfaction in serving?

WRIGHT: I started working as an Army civilian three years ago. The Army has provided me with a great second career and I really appreciate the opportunity to continue serving our men and women in uniform.

This job has also given me an opportunity to develop and hone a variety of skills, including acquisition management, operations management, and leadership. I enjoy working with the acquisition professionals in PEO CS&CSS and have learned a lot from them, and I’ve been pleased by the mentorship that I have received — it’s a welcome feeling to know that my leadership sees the value I have to offer the Army and is willing to provide the support I need to be successful in my career.

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  • “Faces of the Force” is an online feature highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce. Produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication Division, and working closely with public affairs officers, Soldiers and Civilians currently serving in a variety of AL&T disciplines are featured every other week. For more information, or to nominate someone, please contact 703-805-1006.