What inspired you to get involved in the military?
After 20 years of active-duty service and retiring from the U.S. Army, I had the drive and passion to pursue a new career, allowing me to transition my military skills, experience, and education. I’ve always enjoyed interacting with people to develop and execute processes, creating new endeavors. My ideology and commitment to servant leadership, the optimistic motivation that anything can be accomplished and creating enjoyable workplace cultures are part of my makeup and led me to becoming a Professional Project Manager. Fortunately for me, my introduction, and journey into the information technology (IT) and artificial intelligence (AI) kicked off with Empower AI.
In your role at Empower AI, how do you use the skills you learned as a military leader?
As an Operations Director for Empower AI, the Army instilled in me valuable skills that play a critical role in my day-to-day efforts. Within the seven Army Values are two that stand out (Integrity and Personal Courage). One of my responsibilities is communicating with customers,
senior managers, and team members. Everyone enjoys good news, but as a Project Manager, bad news comes with the job and doesn’t get better with time. Having the integrity and personal courage to communicate with clarity and honesty is essential. Parallel to the Army, it builds trust and demonstrates to those impacted by your decision-making that your moral compass is always steady.
As we all know, IT and AI are vast, fast paced and continuously growing. As a Project Manager in this industry, we encounter new projects and challenges that can truly test a person’s comfort zone. Having the personal courage to leap into the unknown, learn new skills and have an immediate impact is something that we - as soldiers - experience often. After multiple deployments and supporting missions around the globe, the Army ensured that having the intangible skill of personal courage what not be an issue!
During your career, what are some specific challenges or obstacles you have faced along the way, and how did you overcome them?
My most difficult challenge was being new to the technology used on our projects and bridging the conceptual knowledge gap required to manage them. I was able to quickly overcome this challenge by working hands-on with my Project Team to support the Home Station Mission Command project for the Fort Bragg 18th Airborne Corps HQ IT Infrastructure Upgrades. Collaborating with the subject matter experts at the execution level prepared me for the greater responsibility that I hold today as an Operations Director and Program Manager supporting the National Capital Region - Engineering Division (NCRED) National Defense University.
Based on your training what are some of the key achievements or milestones in your career that you are proud of?
My most notable achievement is completing my MBA while serving in the military. Following the military, being certified by the Project Management Institute (PMI) as a Project Management Professional (PMP) and Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP).
With a goal of achievement, I aim to be certified by PMI as a Professional Business Analyst (PMI-PBA) this summer.
From your experience in the military, why is responsible AI important to the future of the military and the nation?
Responsible AI is important to warfighters and senior decision-makers of all branches to the Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and Sailors on the front line. Time is an asset and incorporating AI into daily operations doesn’t replace people, it improves us! Leveraging AI to process data allows for faster and more accurate decision-making leaving more time to respond and win in any situation.
What motivates you to continue pushing boundaries and striving for excellence in your work?
My motivations are family, co-workers, and the members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., where we value achievement in every field of human endeavor.
In your view, why is it important that we celebrate Military Appreciation Week?
Showing appreciation to current and previous military service members is a phenomenal gesture of humility. It’s important to use a platform such as this because it highlights how military service members are not only supporting our nation in uniform. We’re key team members in positions of great responsibility supporting the success of companies like Empower AI. The appreciation shines a light on the entire military community, acknowledging that our service to country and mission success never truly ends!