AUSTIN, Texas – As a data scientist with U.S. Army Futures Command’s Human Capital Directorate, Johnna Thompson harnesses the power of figures to illuminate key personnel issues and strengthen team decision-making.
“I pull together whatever kind of data they need,” Thompson said of her support to Human Capital leadership. She then carefully organizes, cleans and translates the compiled data “into something meaningful to help them make strategic and tactical decisions,” she explained.
Thompson, who recently transitioned from a hybrid role to a remote role within Human Capital, appreciates the modern workplace flexibility that her position offers. Her typical workday can involve anything from forecasting personnel retention and attrition rates to visualizing employee performance trends to evaluating survey data on hiring and employee work satisfaction.
“You might be the only data-oriented person, so you can help a lot of people get through their day. You can make their lives so much easier, so quickly,” Thompson said.
Because Thompson is the sole data scientist tasked with managing human capital analysis and forecasting for Army Futures Command headquarters, her days tend to be packed with activities that involve creative problem-solving and critical thinking.
Her mornings often consist of updating human capital tracking tools and information databases, while her afternoons include time for meetings and new and ongoing project development.
Throughout it all, Thompson maintains a focus on prioritizing people and helping to forge a future-oriented workforce, in line with Army Futures Command’s overarching goal of transforming the Army to ensure war-winning future readiness.
“AFC is kind of exciting because it’s new to the Army,” she said. “I like being part of that.”
Thompson added that the command, which is headquartered in Austin, is “full of very senior people, and many of them are the top of their field.” She considers working with such a highly qualified and motivated group to be a privilege and appreciates the opportunity to continue growing her career in the in-demand field of data science while serving a larger purpose.
While Thompson’s role within Army Futures Command is relatively new, she has worked for the Army and Air Force for more than 20 years, focusing the majority of that time on operations research and data science.
Her path to her current Department of the Army civilian role included intermittent positions outside of the military, as well as a start in uniform.
“After high school, I did not attend college. Eventually, I joined the Army, and I spent just four years in the military,” Thompson explained.
Her decision to join the Army was influenced by her experiences as an Army family member.
“I grew up as an Army dependent my entire life. My dad was in the Army when I was born, and he was still in the Army when I left home.”
Thompson was able to achieve a bachelor’s degree by attending college while enlisted and later on completed graduate school, receiving a master’s degree in statistics.
Since then, she has served the Army in various roles, including at U.S. Army Medical Command and U.S. Army Installation Command, occasionally also working in the private sector.
Nowadays, she usually moves to a new position or new city with the Army every 3-5 years, embracing the career flexibility available to Department of the Army civilians.
“The thing that I love about being a civilian for the Army is if you’re the type of person who isn’t sure what you want to do, or if you think you might get bored when things aren’t as challenging, you can stay working for the Army and you can move to a new place, or just a new job or a new organization, very easily in comparison to on the outside world.”
Thompson was able to serve in Germany for three years, for example, as part of an assignment with the Air Force.
“If you decide that you suddenly need to move overseas, you can make that happen while still maintaining your benefits and your connections and building your network,” she said.
A job with the Army or Department of Defense offers security as well as the “flexibility to be where you want,” Thompson elaborated.
“It really opens up the possibilities of where you could go.”
As for those considering joining the Civilian Corps, she would encourage them to explore the benefits as well as the opportunities.
“People should really consider heavily joining Department of Defense as a civilian, whether it be the Army or the Air Force or the Navy, just because the benefits are huge. You have an opportunity to work with people of every background, and everyone is working toward a similar mission.”
“Most of the people are out here trying to accomplish something to help other people,” Thompson added.
“I work for the Army because I want to help Soldiers, and many of the other people I work with feel that same way.”
To learn more about employment with Army Futures Command, visit army.mil/futures.
You can also view open civilian positions with the command here.