ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Illinois (Nov. 29, 2023) – Army Contracting Command-Rock Island welcomed Marion Whicker, the executive deputy to the commanding general for Army Materiel Command, for an Executive Interview Program session Nov. 6 here at Heritage Hall.
Whicker, a tier III senior executive service member and the highest ranked civilian at AMC, discussed several topics relating to her nearly 40-year government career and provided advice to ACC-RI employees looking to advance into leadership roles, or enhance their current role as a leader.
She assumed her duties as the AMC EDCG in June 2022, after serving most of her career at the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command in several positions. She also served as the deputy chief of supply, production and distribution for Operation Warp Speed, which was the nation’s COVID response, and as the director of the Organic Industrial Base Modernization Task Force, stood up to develop a 15-year modernization strategy for the Army’s depots, arsenals and ammunition plants.
Starting as a GS-5 intern at TACOM, Whicker said she had no aspirations to become an SES, and no intentions to leave that organization. As time went on, she continued to advance within and later outside of TACOM, and now is responsible for materiel life cycle management, acquisition support, personnel and resource management, industrial base operations and enterprise integration for AMC, with a global reach of 165,000 Military, Civilian and contractor employees, impacting all 50 states and more than 150 countries.
“Life will hand you different choices when you are least expecting them,” said Whicker. “How you react to them will be up to you. I’d tell you don’t rule anything out.”
In reacting to the choices individuals are given, Whicker said it is vital to have a career roadmap, and to ensure that roadmap aligns with their personal roadmap. She said those who do not know what their plan is, need to talk to someone they trust who is a grade or two above, or a mentor, to develop those plans.
Whicker said there is no answer to what kind of mentor people should get but encourages people to find a scenario that works best for them, even if it isn’t through a formal mentoring program.
“I was involved in a formal mentoring program, and I got matched up with someone that I knew going in, but every week we had to write a report and I spent more time writing a report and doing all of the documentation,” said Whicker. “Finally, we both said let’s get out of this and we still had that mentoring relationship later.”
While communicating with others is important to career development, experience is also crucial. Whicker encourages taking on the tough assignments, including the ones no one else wants to do.
“It takes a repertoire of experience,” said Whicker. “Being a mile deep but only an inch wide is not going to get you there.”
To advance into higher levels of government, Whicker said individuals should measure their careers and experiences against the five main common core requirements of an SES: leading change, leading people, business acumen, building coalitions and being results-driven.
Whicker said for those who aspire to become an SES, and receive the opportunity to serve at that level, they need to do something with it.
“Don’t just be a supervisor at the next level,” said Whicker. “If you get the opportunity to be an SES, be one, be a leader. Lead change, but don’t forget where you came from. I wanted to be an SES because I wanted to shape the future. I wanted to influence things, I wanted to help shape people. No matter what you do, be good at it, but be authentic. People can smell a fraud a mile away. If you’re not being you, people can tell.”
Whicker is the first guest speaker of FY24 for ACC-RI’s Executive Interview Program, a program which launched at ACC-RI in the summer of 2021 as an Army Contracting Command Leadership Development initiative designed to expose the workforce to unique and interesting leaders. These speakers share their leadership journey and the experiences they have encountered that have allowed them to grow into the exceptional individuals they are today.