BY CAPT. KURT WENDELKEN, SC, USN, COMMANDING OFFICER, NAVSUP BUSINESS SYSTEMS CENTER
Since the earliest days of automation, the Supply Corps has played a substantial role in the procurement, development and sustainment of Navy’s afloat and ashore business information technology (IT) systems. From the introduction of electronic accounting machine punch card systems installed on board Navy ships in 1958 to the completion of Navy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) in 2012, Supply Corps officers have provided requirements, written contracts, developed software and managed projects to improve Navy’s supply chain through automation. As military and private sector supply chains become more complex, there is an increasing appetite for IT tools and analysis of data to ensure the right material is precisely provided at the point of need.
[caption id="attachment_5298" align="alignright" width="580"]
Rear Adm. John Polowczyk observing Navy Enterprise Resource Planning operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mark Logico/Released)
Today, critical roles throughout this landscape are filled by the men and women of the Supply Corps Business Enterprise Management (BEM) Community of Interest (COI). BEM officers serve as interns at NAVSUP Business Systems Center (BSC), Defense Logistics Agency Headquarters, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), on the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations staff, and as the commanding officer of NAVSUP BSC. Typically members of the BEM community have experience in IT project management, procurement, development and sustainment gained through experience tours at four-star headquarters, systems commands, IT program executive and management offices, and NAVSUP and SPAWAR Central Design Agencies. They often also have master’s degrees in IT management, but may have a master’s degree in another discipline, as well.
BEM officers begin their careers like every other Supply Corps officer, with a stop at Navy Supply Corps School before their initial operational tour. After their first tour, they are able to apply for a BEM internship, which will give them their first exposure to the COI and also provide them with baseline Navy ERP education and Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act training in program management. Interns may serve in the NAVSUP Enterprise, at Naval Air Systems Command, or with Commander, Naval Air Forces, Pacific. After their internship, officers return to the Fleet for their second operational tour. Once they have completed a successful operational tour, BEM officers may go to the Naval Postgraduate School for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Information Management or to one of the civilian graduate institutions as part of the 810 program. Following postgraduate education, officers can serve in a variety of positions throughout the Navy and the Joint world.
If you are interested in project management, problem solving, and working with emerging technologies, becoming a member of the BEM community may be for you.