REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Dec. 12, 2022) – For most people who reach a certain point in their careers, they instinctively know when it is time to think about retirement.
As was the case for Stan Sherrod, principal deputy for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s Software, Simulation, Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate, who retires this month after more than 37 years of government service. While Sherrod recognizes that the time has come to start a new chapter, he will be very much missed by the S3I team.
In typical Stan fashion, as those who have worked with him can attest, the decision was not solely about what was best for him but was best for the Center.
“I'm looking around and there are other people who need to be in this job – people that have great ideas and are great leaders,” Sherrod said. “They need to be sitting here because they have the vision for the things they would like to implement, things that need to be done and I'm in the way. It’s an opportunity for some growth for the organization.”
Sherrod came to an earlier incarnation of AvMC as a co-op student and earned his engineering bona fides on the Patriot missile program, starting out like so many leaders before him, doing hands-on engineering.
“I was hired on Sept. 3, 1985. I was 19 years old,” Sherrod reminisced. “I was just a kid.”
After he graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a degree in mechanical engineering and continued his career, Sherrod realized that he had an affinity for managing projects and guiding people. Over the next several decades, he would hold several leadership roles with Patriot, at the program executive office and as a matrixed employee from the Center. He moved into his current role when Dr. Jim Kirsch took over as the S3I director in July 2019. That breadth of opportunity has contributed to his longevity with AvMC.
As for Kirsch, he said that the best decision he has made in the role was choosing Sherrod as his deputy.
“Stan’s contributions to the Army throughout his career are critically important and resulted in capabilities in the hands of Soldiers and partner nations,” Kirsch said. “People whose lives depend on these systems working correctly will never know the name Stan Sherrod but they can rest assured that he poured everything into ensuring when they need it to work, it will work and work well.
“Frankly, as important as those contributions are to our national security, it is the way he poured into the people who were fortunate enough to work with him that had the largest impact. Stan epitomizes the Army values – loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. I will miss his wisdom, his commitment to people, his humor and his unwavering dedication to the people we serve.”
For anyone who knows Sherrod, it comes as no surprise that the part of the job that he will miss the most will be his co-workers. Never one for the spotlight, Sherrod preferred to recognize his team for their achievements and was always game to emcee others’ ceremonies. Now that his has come, he had to be gently nudged into having a party by Kirsch, recognizing that there was a whole organization that wanted the opportunity to say farewell to their deputy and thank him for his leadership. For Sherrod, the people have always been what made AvMC special.
“The culture of the organization is so important. The leaders have to be intentional and purposeful in developing and nurturing that culture,” Sherrod shared. “When the alarm goes off in the morning, you want people looking forward to getting up and coming in.”
He shared his advice for the next generation of AvMC with his trademark humility, a humility that has been hard-won through experience.
“I wish I had understood the resource that was there in front of me all the time, the institutional knowledge that I had access to, the leaders that were right there, ready and willing to share their experiences,” he said. “There were some really smart, good people and I wish I would have taken advantage of being around them more than I did. My failure to do so caused me to learn some lessons the hard way for not paying more attention to them.”
While he “will miss the clowns, but not the circus,” he joked, Sherrod looked back over his career at AvMC with a sense of gratitude for the opportunities it has provided him.
“I could have never imagined doing the things that I have been able to do – the people I have worked with, the jobs that I have been fortunate to work in. Like many of us, I came from a family where work ethic was taught by example. My dad was a factory worker at Ford and General Motors, my mom was a secretary at the Tennessee Valley Authority. Their example has always been with me and will continue. I have been very blessed.”
The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.