Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT January-March 2016 Contents “The hardest part of my job is also the
best part,” he added. “Every requirement
met allows new capabilities to be con-
sidered, which then drives a new set of
requirements. It requires us to constantly
innovate, which is exciting.”
What do you do in your position, and
why is it important to the Army or the
I work with the requirements and acqui-
sition community to provide improved
power and energy capabilities for the
Army. These include lighter-weight alter-
natives for wearable Soldier use and more
resilient electrical grids for basing appli-
cations. Specifically, this involves solving
technical hurdles related to developing
and transitioning prototype systems. This
includes developing the engineering and
scientific tools required to design a mili-
tary-relevant system, and a combination
of experimental characterization and
What’s the greatest satisfaction you
have in being a part of the Army Acqui-
sition Workforce (AAW)?
Although we leverage a large amount of
commercial solutions, our requirements
drive us to develop advanced technology.
This results in us advancing the state of
the art, which is very satisfying, as it not
only benefits the warfighter but poten-
tially the economic strength of the nation.
During your tenure with your organiza-
tion or command, what was the biggest
challenge your program faced, and how
did you overcome it?
Early on in the program, there was a
requirement for a form factor that could
be worn on the tactical vest while meet-
ing power requirements. No other fuel
system had been able to provide this
capability. Based on Soldier feedback
and rapid prototyping, it was possible to
develop a product that met this require-
ment. The potential weight saving is
impressive —almost four times lighter
for extended missions than the existing
rechargeable battery. This translates into
a battery weight savings of 14 pounds
and enables fielding of Soldier systems
that provide increased capability but usu-
ally require larger amounts of power.
If you could break the rules or make the
rules, what would you change or do?
I would simplify the contracting pro-
cess. Presently the contracting process is
too long, making it hard to partner with
innovative companies that thrive in fast-
moving, agile partnerships.
You joined the AAW from the private
sector. What do you see as the biggest dif-
ference between working in the private
sector and working in Army acquisition?
Actua lly, the research and development
[R&D] environment is more similar than
different. In my corporate position, the
largest focus was on increasing share-
holder value, which usually translated into
developing useful products for customers.
In the Army, the largest focus is on pro-
viding value to the warfighter—in other
words, transitioning useful products.
What one skill or ability is most impor-
tant in doing your job effectively?
Perseverance. The R&D process takes a
long time. Also, DOD is a big organi-
zation, and it’s not simple to affect the
course of a big organization. To effect
meaningful change, you have to be com-
mitted for the long haul.
Is there a skill that you learned out-
side your present career that has
come in handy in your work for Army
Communication skills. Air Liquide is a
French multinational corporation, and
when I worked there, I realized the impor-
tance of learning from folks with different
experiences. This was important because
transitioning a product successfully
requires consideration of a number of dif-
Can you name a particular mentor or
mentors who helped you in your career?
How did they help you?
There are far too many people to men-
tion who have provided mentoring to me.
The entire Power Division has been very
helpful, which makes work an enjoyable
experience. Especially helpful was the
focus on transitioning technology—in
other words, how will this help the Sol-
dier? Sometimes that means pointing out
problems and then going the extra mile
in providing ideas and guidance on the
solutions. It also helps that we have world
experts in our technology space, specifi-
cally power and energy.
What advice would you give to someone
who aspires to a career similar to yours?
Plan your work, and then work your plan
hard. As much as you can control it, all
your work should have an end product
that you believe will improve something.
This means getting lots of feedback and
separating the hype from the reality. Also,
set up and achieve milestones to ensure
forward progress: a requirement, a test bed,
a technical report, a patent, a prototype,
etc. Finally, be flexible. Being a scientist or
an engineer includes inventing, and some-
times you have to reinvent yourself.
— MS. SUSAN L. FOLLETT
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