ACC-RI employee shares her career-enhancing experience

By Elizabeth UrbaniakApril 24, 2023

Michele Ross, branch chief within the Contract Operations Division completed an eight-month assignment/detail at the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, also known as SDDC, at Scott Air Force Base.
Michele Ross, branch chief within the Contract Operations Division completed an eight-month assignment/detail at the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, also known as SDDC, at Scott Air Force Base. (Photo Credit: Liz Glenn, Public Affairs Specialist.) VIEW ORIGINAL

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Illinois (April 24, 2023) — New experiences are a crucial part of any employee’s career growth, and one Army Contracting Command-Rock Island employee recently completed a detail at the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, known as SDDC, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. SDDC is the Army service component command to U.S. Transportation Command and a major subordinate command to U.S. Army Materiel Command.

Michele Ross, a branch chief in ACC-RI’s Contract Operations Division, began her SDDC detail in June 2022 and returned to ACC-RI in February 2023. What started as a 120-day detail to SDDC became an eight-month assignment due to SDDC requesting she continue her efforts in establishing the framework for the future state and provided her with a unique position to make big changes and grow her professional skill set.

SDDC provides integrated and synchronized globaldeployment and distribution capabilities to the point of need, delivering innovative transportation solutions on time, on target, every time.

As one of ACC-RI’s customers, SDDC specifically requested an ACC-RI leader who has the ability to see the big picture strategies of the Army and apply core leadership skills to help SDDC align to core contracting operations, and Ross answered the call.

While at SDDC, Ross provided an outside perspective during deep dives into the business processes utilized to leverage contracts across the globe. She looked at the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the SDDC acquisition and contracting process, and through her assessment, she identified a strategic approach to enhance the contract management process throughout the contract lifecycle.

“It was important for me when I arrived to understand the history of SDDC, what their mission is and who their mission partners are,” said Ross. “Looking at what transpired over the years and assessing current processes allowed a deeper understanding and perspective to ensure the best approach to provide contracting solutions that will advance SDDC’s mission now and for the future.”

Ross met with leadership in each respective area, along with employees, to get their perspective in understanding current processes, coordination, lines of communication, and how the contracts were managed. This also involved engaging with the two major contracting agencies that support SDDC, U.S. Transportation Command Acquisition and ACC-RI.

Based on the input and analysis, she identified opportunities to increase standardization; increase efficiencies with processes; establish metrics to see themselves; and enhance the relationships across the global footprint.

Ross proposed a transformation that resulted in the establishment of a new directorate at SDDC, the Acquisition Management and Execution Directorate, which serves as the liaison between the requirement activities and the contracting commands to plan, coordinate, and execute transportation service and supply requirements for SDDC. The new directorate will assist with facilitating the acquisition strategy planning process, enhancing contract management of critical requirements, and optimizing capability as an enterprise.

“This will allow the requirements to be more synchronized across the command to gain efficiencies and enhance tools and metrics to conduct more effective and efficient oversight of their contracts,” said Ross.

A great deal of communication and collaboration was required for Ross to be able to influence change.

“I had to be able to understand the different perspectives to effectively communicate a shared vision and lead people to understand this new structure,” said Ross.

With her 16 years in the acquisition career field, Ross has an abundance of experience in creating and supporting contracting solutions to enable missions for ACC-RIs customers (requiring activities).

“This assignment allowed me to step into SDDC’s world and see through the lens as a requiring activity to strategically leverage opportunities and create enduring contract management solutions so SDDC remains agile for current and future operations,” said Ross.

Ross also supervised current staff responsible for performing various functions supporting the transformation. She worked on creating opportunities to maximize their skillsets and prepare them, for the future state.

Building a directorate from the ground up was a completely new experience for Ross that gave her both a big-picture view, as well as hands-on, day-to-day responsibilities.

“In addition to building the framework to align for the future state, I had the opportunity to utilize my skills in the business operations side of the directorate, related to budget; re-structuring; creating succession plans; updating and creating position descriptions; hiring; and internal policies and procedures,” said Ross.

While her detail may be complete, Ross said her skills in strategic thinking, putting a vision into action, building relationships, communicating, and influencing change have grown substantially.

“This opportunity allowed me to grow both personally and professionally,” said Ross. “It took some courage to step into a new environment and take on different types of challenges, but that is where I experienced the most growth. I can’t say enough about how amazing the SDDC team is and what an honor it was to be a part of their team.”