Developing MICC leaders: Nickey Austin

By Mission and Installation Contracting Command Public Affairs OfficeJanuary 3, 2023

Developing MICC leaders: Nickey Austin
Nickey Austin is the director of contracting for the Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. (Photo Credit: Illustration by Daniel P. Elkins) VIEW ORIGINAL

Nickey Austin

Organization: MICC-Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

Position: Director

Time with the MICC: 15 years, four months including 1 ½ years as a contract employee.

Previous positions with the MICC: Mission division chief from 2018-2021, contracting officer from 2012-2018, contract specialist from 2007-2012, and contracted administrative assistant from 2005-2007 all at Fort Leavenworth.

What attracted you to the Army Acquisition Corps?

As an administrative assistant, I periodically worked on contract invoicing issues and audits for contract closeout. I found each contract to be a unique puzzle, and enjoyed the research and analysis involved in solving the issues or payment discrepancies. I applied for the very next contract specialist trainee announcement and haven’t looked back since.

What contributed most to your professional development and growth with the MICC?

I have been blessed with leaders, mentors, teachers and co-workers who’ve always encouraged and supported my personal growth and professional development. I frequently sought opportunities to learn new aspects of contracting through any means possible. I earned respect and trust with the requiring activities and customers at all levels through continuous and ongoing engagement. Regular engagement with external stakeholders taught me the importance of the difference between our role as a trusted business adviser and our authority to make decisions as warranted contracting officers.

What developmental assignments have enhanced your acquisition skills and leadership?

I have participated in several special projects within the Army Contracting Command. Participation in the 2013 Joint Readiness Contracting Exercise, MICC’s contract review board initiative with Installation Management Command, and a head of contracting activity-level peer review have served as a reminder that the federal acquisition system is built to be flexible and to evolve in order to support the agility and modernization our Army requires.

 

How do you apply your MICC experiences and development in leading your team today?

I wholeheartedly believe in leading by example and ensuring my staff have the knowledge and resources to become confident in their decision-making abilities. I ensure that everyone feels supported and comfortable asking for guidance. I openly admit when I do not know something and commit to finding the answer or a solution. As opportunities arise, I offer my knowledge and openly share my raw experiences and lessons learned, so others do not repeat them or learn the hard way like many of their predecessors.

What advice would you offer interns or newer members of the command?

Being a successful acquisition professional requires a commitment to continuous learning. I was once asked in a job interview, “What is the most difficult part of the (Federal Acquisition Regulation) to master and implement?” Essentially, my response was that I do not believe any single part of the FAR is difficult to the point of being noteworthy. Rather, the most difficult part of our framework is maintaining currency with all statutory, regulatory and policy updates that we must comply with. Many years later, I am still eager to learn something new every day.

What do you take away from your job as an Army acquisition leader?

I stumbled into the acquisition career field when I didn’t even know it existed, and I fell in love. My desire to learn as a young professional has developed into a passion for our career field. Witnessing growth and goal achievement in my team, and their individual sense of accomplishment when overcoming challenges provides my daily motivation.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of personnel features highlighting members across the enterprise who have developed as leaders with the Mission and Installation Contracting Command and its legacy organization. The MICC offers numerous opportunities for professional development and growth throughout the command providing newer and seasoned acquisition professionals a chance to learn and grow into the next generation of leaders.

About the MICC

Headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Mission and Installation Contracting Command consists of about 1,300 military and civilian members who are responsible for contracting goods and services in support of Soldiers as well as readying trained contracting units for the operating force and contingency environment when called upon. As part of its mission, MICC contracts are vital in feeding more than 200,000 Soldiers every day, providing many daily base operations support services at installations, facilitate training in the preparation of more than 100,000 conventional force members annually, training more than 500,000 students each year, and maintaining more than 14.4 million acres of land and 170,000 structures.

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