ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command Sgt. Maj. Kristie Brady officially passed on her responsibilities to the new Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Conaty, Aug. 2. The change of responsibility ceremony was streamed on the CECOM Facebook page.
Brady took the helm as CECOM CSM on June 25, 2020. In the last two years, she has learned and grown a lot in her leadership. She is the first female senior enlisted advisor in CECOM history.
“We are still going through our ‘firsts,’” Brady said. “I think every position and leadership role I’ve held, I’ve been the ‘first.’ It’s very disappointing to me. I look forward to the day we aren’t saying ‘first’ anymore.”
Being the first woman to hold her position as CECOM CSM, Brady had to prove her credibility and value.
“[Women] have different ways of looking at a problem,” she said. “Like-minds don’t win wars. [Women] provide a more diverse perspective.”
Brady said she felt fortunate that Maj. Gen. Mitchell Kilgo, former commanding general for CECOM, selected her for the role of CSM. He hoped she could improve the pride and culture of the command, Brady said. He wanted Brady to build caring and trusting teams.
“I met Maj. Gen. Kilgo far too late in my career,” Brady said. “He is the leader that I want to be.”
When Brady started in her role as CSM, she faced a huge challenge with COVID restrictions.
“Traditionally, a CSM comes in and solves problems, shares resources, advises, builds morale and more,” Brady said. “We were at just about 100% telework status; It was really only mission-essential folks that came to the base. It took quite some time to be able to extend my connection with the installation. Getting to know people and truly understand what our organization was all about was tough.”
Prior to CECOM, Brady served on a variety of projects and commands, including special missions and joint units. Some of the organizations were “very mature,” and at a young age, Brady gained insight into professionalism and leadership styles.
“[My past experiences have] helped me broaden my philosophies,” Brady said. “It’s not just about Soldiers in the Army. It’s about the culture of other branches in the military, as well as our civilian workforce. Other folks in my position have only ever led Soldiers. They haven’t had the opportunity to lead diverse groups.”
CECOM taught Brady how to “evolve her leadership style” to be more influential beyond Soldiers. Her self awareness and listening skills have improved; She tries to listen more than she speaks. She wanted to stay involved and show CECOM stations all over the world that she cared and supported them
“It’s just about going and having that one-on-one conversation,” Brady said. “It takes longer and you can’t do it with everyone, but if you have just one more [conversation] than you did the previous day, it makes a difference. You walk away learning something unique about someone.”
Brady is making a big move to the Pentagon to be the executive officer for the Sgt. Maj. of the Army, Michael Grinston. She looks forward to learning as much as possible in the new role.
“I will ensure that the [Sgt. Maj. of the Army] is prepared and positioned to speak on topics… I’ll be his right-hand-woman,” Brady said. “I’m excited to learn more about the [his] role and impact, but also to sit in with the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff. It gives me chills to think about. I want to soak up as much as I can.”
Brady promises to be a “huge advocate” for CECOM in her time at the Pentagon. She plans to share the mentorship tools that she’s learned here and “let them know how great CECOM is.”
“I’ve learned a lot [at CECOM],” Brady said. “It’s not easy to speak and hope folks get it. You have to be creative without how you get a message across. I worked really hard to show people that I was there to help.”