Faces from the Front: Meet Tracey Shaw
September 1, 2013
KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan --The U.S. Army is one of the largest organizations in the world and needs the defense industry to provide top-notch goods, supplies, and services to facilitate its operations and sustain troops. Dedicated, ethical, and competent contracting professionals, like Tracey Shaw, are part or a team of highly-qualified personnel who have the passion, knowledge, skills, and abilities required to provide contracting support worldwide. For 12 years, Tracey Shaw has exercised shrewd business judgment, smart strategies, and full compliance with the law to acquire equipment and services the U.S. Army needs to accomplish missions in the homeland and overseas. Ordinarily an employee of the Space and Missile Defense Command, Shaw is currently deployed in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Afghanistan District. He shares his perspective here.
Name, Job Series, and Unit:
Tracey Shaw, GS- 1102, USACE Transatlantic Afghanistan District
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy problem solving and delivering products that exceed customers' expectations. It's fun to negotiate with contractors to arrive at the best and least cost alternative most beneficial to the U.S.
Tell me about an unforgettable day on the job?
In 2007, I was deployed with USACE Gulf Region South District at Talil Airbase in Iraq. Two of my colleagues were injured while visiting a construction site. The up-armored vehicle they were riding in ran over an IED. Both of them sustained severe injuries, but both lived to tell their stories.
What's your message to people who plan to pursue work in the field of acquisition, contracting, and procurement?
Stay positive, stay ethical, and always look for the solution. Hone your ability to negotiate because you will need strong negotiation skills when working with both internal and external customers and contractors. Thoroughly understand the products and services you procure, and commit to a lifetime of learning.
Who or what inspired you to become a contracting officer?
A contracting chief in St. Paul, Minn. convinced me I should pursue a position with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He appealed to my sense of service to our country and its people. I am a veteran; I was in the Army, so service to country is common for me.
Who helped and supported you to become the person you are now?
My parents, John and Marie Shaw.
Who are your mentors and why?
Mrs. Colleen O'Keefe, without a doubt, demonstrates the core values of a mentor and leader. She is one of the very best leaders I've ever worked with. Colleen is the regional contracting chief for USACE Transatlantic Division. Colleen cares about the people who work for her and she instinctively understands how to build a strong team.
How do peers, customers and Afghans react to you?
On most occasions they all react positively, although sometimes my stature is a bit intimidating at first.
What projects are you working on?
I work on Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund projects.
Where did you graduate from college and what year?
I graduated in 1994 from DeVry University in Decatur, Georgia.
Would you recommend folks seek certification/ licensure in their respective professional fields?
Individuals who are interested in excelling in their particular career fields should never stop learning and developing both personal and professional skills and certifications. I can't say that enough: NEVER STOP LEARNING, especially in the acquisition career field.
What is one difference between working in the U.S. and working in Afghanistan?
Logistics in land-locked Afghanistan is no easy task. Everything from tough terrain, to potentially-heavy tariffs, to unpredictable events make moving materials across multiple borders an industry requiring courage and skill.
Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy wood working, tinkering in the garage, yard work, and gardening.
Do you have a motto or favorite saying?
I prefer the many quotes of Abraham Lincoln and Leo Tolstoy. My favorite saying is, qui audet adipiscitur. Translated to English it means, "He who dares wins."
What town do you consider home?
I live in Huntsville, Ala. with my family, but consider Georgia my home.
What types of causes are you involved in?
I volunteer at Habitat for Humanity.
Tell me about your family?
I am married. Coincidentally, my wife's name is also Tracey. We have one son, Austin. I enjoy shopping, cooking and decorating with my wife and gaming online with my son.
Of all your awards, which one is your most cherished and why?
I'm most proud of earning the Superior Civilian Service Award in 2009.