Climbing the Army ranks - as a civilian
July 28, 2011
--This article is courtesy of Whitman Magazine, Summer 2011 issue and author Ms. Lindsay Wickham, Events & Communications Manager, Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship, Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. --
Kathy Miller never really thought about working for the armed forces while she was growing up. During her undergraduate years, she studied resource economics and was preparing for a career in accounting. But after graduation, marriage to a service member took her abroad to Germany. After living abroad for a short while, Miller decided that she needed to find work and wanted to keep busy. She interviewed for an accounting position in Germany with the U.S. Army and remembers being asked if she could type. Miller recalls replying, "not very well," but was hired anyway - and her Army career took off.
Miller says she soon discovered that one of the best parts of her job was making a difference: "I found I could make a difference and make things better." After excelling in her role for nearly a decade, she was selected to attend what was then called the Army Comptrollership Program (ACP) at the Whitman School of Management. Miller's experience in the ACP program and its emphasis on teamwork shaped the future of her career, which has taken her to the top tier of civilian employees in the U.S. Army. "You have to be able to lead a team, whether it's your own business, as part of a corporation, or for the government," she says. "You must focus your team to get to the end result."
Following her graduation from Whitman's ACP Program, Miller worked for the Army in various leadership and managerial roles related to financial management. After attending the U.S. Army War College from 2001-02, she switched gears for a few years when she was selected for the Senior Executive Service with the Internal Revenue Service, where she oversaw the accounting processes and IT systems for the IRS's $10 billion administrative budget.
In 2005, when Miller accepted her current post and rejoined the team at the Army, she said it was like coming home. Miller's position - Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff (Logistics) - is the only Army civilian position of its type in The Pentagon. On a day-to-day basis, she is responsible for four areas crucial to the success of the entire U.S. Army: overseeing the Army's policies and procedures of supply (including food, ammunition, uniforms and equipment); maintenance of equipment; programming the budget for Army sustainment activities; and logistics information technology systems, such as the SAP platform for tactical logistics.
While her responsibilities are intense and demanding, Miller thrives in her role. As a professional with a passion for getting the job done-and making a difference-Miller says, "I feel lucky that the Army has entrusted me with this responsibility."