Proud and humbling day for NSRDEC new leader
November 23, 2007
NATICK, Mass. -- Dr. Marilyn M. Freeman was promoted to the ranks of the Senior Executive Service and assumed responsibility as Director for the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center during a recent ceremony in Hunter Auditorium.
"The Senior Executive Service is comprised of the men and women charged with leading the continuing transformation of government. These leaders possess well-honed executive skills and share a broad perspective of government and a public service commitment, which is grounded in the Constitution," according to the Office of Personnel Management.
The ceremony began with the National Anthem and an Invocation. Maj. Gen. Fred D. Robinson Jr., commander, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, administered the oath of office and John Freeman, her husband, assisted by pinning the SES insignia on Dr. Freeman's lapel.
Dr. Freeman was then presented with the NSRDEC charter, which charged her to carry out the duties as Director of the NSRDEC, including working to improve the sustainability, survivability and mobility of our Warfighters, as well as to provide leadership and stewardship to 'the most valuable resource' - NSRDEC's personnel.
Robinson, who addressed the gathering, began by thanking Dr. Jack Obusek for serving as acting director of NSRDEC for the past several months.
"You were called upon to fill a critical void. You were dedicated and committed and your leadership was nothing short of exceptional. He [Obusek] now passes the reins of this world-class organization to Dr. Freeman," said Robinson.
"This center [NSRDEC] has an extremely challenging mission," Robinson continued. Addressing the work force, he said, "You have to maximize the survivability, sustainability, mobility, combat effectiveness and quality of life for our Soldiers, and not just our Soldiers, but also for the Sailor, Airman, Marine and Coastguardsman. As a Soldier, I am convinced that there is no mission more critical, no mission more important. You are all dedicated to the Soldier and your mission. If there is one thought I want you to leave here with today, it's this: Your efforts everyday help to save Soldiers' lives and improve them in so many ways that you can't even count."
To Dr. Freeman, Robinson said, "Deliver what is promised on the charter. This center provides invaluable services. As a Soldier and a leader of Soldiers in combat, I have been lucky enough to have been on the receiving end of your [NSRDEC's] efforts."
He then spoke of Dr. Freeman's credentials, such as her work in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)) and at the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center. "She understands Soldiers and the mission," Robinson said. "She is a leader."
Dr. Freeman began her comments by saying how excited she is to be given this new opportunity to serve the Nation and the Army as a member of the SES and to be the leader of NSRDEC's group of talented people. She said the day was both the proudest and most awesome day in her twenty-six and a half year career as a Federal Employee. "To be named the leader of an organization like this is truly humbling."
After adding her personal thanks to Obusek, she stated that she knew there was some uncertainty among the work force about her as a new leader. "I know you are thinking, 'What kind of person is she''; 'What type of leader''; 'Will she be hard to please''; 'What will she expect of me''"
Dr. Freeman continued by saying that she is not going to be able to answer all the questions people might have immediately. For instance, she doesn't yet know what might change, but "...the Army is transforming and transforming is all about change."
She said she believes NSRDEC does have a clear direction for the future.
"You are a center providing Soldiers the best equipment and capabilities to accomplish their mission." Dr. Freeman said her expectations are that each member of the work force will use his or her knowledge, education, skills and energy and put in his or her best effort every day. "This is so we can be the best, remain the best and excel at our mission."
She provided seven insights about herself, which she thought would be helpful.
First, Dr. Freeman said, she is a proud mother of two. Second she is a very proud grandmother of one. Third she is a wife; fourth, a daughter. "Note that my first four are about family," she said. "Family is valuable and we need to recognize that along with being able to do the job."
Fifth she is a classic 'Type A' personality. "In case you didn't realize that by the fact that I numbered everything," she joked.
Sixth she is a teacher. Dr. Freeman's undergraduate education was in Physical Science and Secondary Education and her first jobs were as a junior high and high school teacher in Ohio and Germany. "My management style is that of a teacher. I lead like a teacher," she said. "I try to provide clear instructions and unambiguous messages. I care that people understand 'why' along with 'what' they are doing. I am capable of dealing with people with different styles and needs."
She said she is capable of making decisions; but, expects that the staff will provide her with options and recommendations. Dr. Freeman continued that she is also capable of taking disciplinary actions. "In every organization there are some things that are unpleasant. I don't like it, but I don't avoid it." Mentioning that she likes to talk, she said she is also capable of listening. "I'll try to figure out who you really are and what you think, that's what makes a successful team."
Seventh she is a 'lab rat' at heart. "I grew up at Picatinny [Army Armaments Research, Development and Engineering Center] in my professional career," Dr. Freeman said. "I understand the love of working in an RDEC [Research, Development and Engineering Center]." She promised that she won't micromanage, but stated that she recognizes that, "Someone has to fight for you [the NSRDEC], ensuring the money is there, dealing with the politics and ensuring the organization is healthy so you can do what you do."
Dr. Freeman said the work force should remember every day that, "S&T [science and technology] is relevant and ready." She pledged that she will do her best at what needs to be done in order for everyone to work together to achieve the mission of support to the Soldier.
Dr. Freeman holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Science from the University of Dayton (1975), Masters of Science degree in Materials Science from Stevens Institute of Technology (1990) and holds a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin in Materials Science and Engineering (1996).