The Army Materiel Command’s Executive Deputy to the Commanding General says she’s proof that anything is possible.
Marion Whicker, AMC’s EDCG, started her government service career as an Army intern, serving as a GS5 item manager, steadily progressed up the GS ranks, and was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in 2018 -- in her words -- proving her theory that anything is possible.
Whicker spent the day with U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, or AMCOM, leadership, directors and employees, Jan. 13. During her visit, she candidly shared her reasons for joining government service and why she wanted to lead.
“I was one of 10 children who always had to fall in line. I wanted to make a difference,” she said. Whicker also touched on the other perks of government service: 13 paid holidays each year, 2 ½ weeks of annual leave and 2 ½ weeks of sick leave each year, and a 401K retirement fund.
In her current position, Whicker is responsible for materiel life cycle management, acquisition support, personnel and resource management, industrial base operations and enterprise integration for AMC. In that position, Whicker has spent seven months writing AMC’s Organic Industrial Base modernization strategy.
She previously served as the Executive Director of the Integrated Logistics Support Center with the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, where she oversaw the readiness of the majority of Army maintenance, fielding, new equipment training, supply chain management and system readiness.
From June 2020 to May 2021, Whicker served in a temporary assignment as Deputy Chief for Supply, Production and Distribution for Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics response. Whicker said she called on her logistics training to accomplish the mission.
“The vaccine is a weapon system that we had to field,” Whicker explained. Whicker said they had to ensure the vaccine could be shipped and stored at minus 70 degrees and that the required accessories – gloves, protective eyewear and scoops for the dry ice – were included.
“My biggest challenge was translating the medical terminology and jargon,” she said.
During her visit with AMCOM, Whicker spent some time conducting a leader development session with 50 AMCOM employees. During her chat, Whicker offered guidance to those who are currently climbing the GS ladder.
o Take jobs nobody else wants
o If you are hired for the job, be ready to do that job
o Take on a problem that nobody else can solve and solve it
o Talk to your leaders and learn about your organization
o Read and discuss leadership books (Whicker, an avid sports fan, recommends – among others -- books written by the legendary University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball coach, Pat Summit)
o Have breadth and depth of experience
o Seek out training opportunities
o Give feedback; articulate your concerns and possible solutions to make it better
o Set expectations for new employees
o Stay relevant in your technical skills
o Become part of a professional organization, like the National Defense Industrial Association
o Take rotational assignments to build experience
o Find a mentor; be a mentor
o Find a partner with whom you can develop job swaps. You both gain experience and it doesn’t leave a work gap that someone else has to fill.
During the session, Whicker encouraged people to be part of the solution, using the example of her intern program.
“We all talked about improving the intern program,” she said. “So, when I came out of the intern program, I offered to be a trainer to help fix the program.”
Whicker also talked about the importance of seeking out mentors and succession planning.
“Mentoring is a two-way street. I have always learned from the people I mentored,” Whicker said. “The best mentor you can have is someone who is different from you.”
She also talked about the importance of succession planning, the process of identifying, nurturing, developing, and training new leaders for future requirements and/or replacements to ensure the organization continues to have dependable leadership. As part of the planning, Whicker encouraged employees to fill out a form on which they identify their top three assignments and the top three assignments they want, along with a list of their career goals and aspirations. Then, go over this form with your supervisor to help get those assignments that will help you build the experience you need to move forward.
Whicker also talked about the importance of work/life balance, speaking of how she never missed any of her daughter’s ballgames because she talked to her leaders about it. She encouraged employees to share their stories with their supervisors. She also encouraged supervisors to get to know their people.
The work/life balance topic resonated with several of the session participants, especially Robin Coe, a Human Resource specialist, assigned to AMCOM G1. “One of our [Leader Investment for Tomorrow] course projects is work/life balance. Ms. Whicker said the key to implementing work/life balance is the communication between supervisors and their employees and how together they can achieve work/life balance. We also discussed her Black Belt Project on Succession Planning which was very beneficial to me and will be a useful tool for AMCOM.”
In closing, Whicker reflected on how she had exceeded her own career expectations and hopes that the AMCOM employees will do the same. And, now that her daughter is grown and married, Whicker shared that she is already planning for her next assignment: Grandmother.
View more photos of Marion Whicker’s visit with AMCOM at https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAow3q.