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The journey ahead: Dawson promoted to Senior Executive Service ranks

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“Selection to this small corps of senior civilian leaders is an extremely high bar, and I’m sure you’ll agree that Andy is absolutely deserving of this incredible distinction!”


-Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, commander of the U.S. Transportation Command


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Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, U.S. Transportation Command commander, appoints Andy Dawson, U.S. Transportation Command Defense Personal Property Management Office director, to the Senior Executive Service during his promotion ceremony at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Jan. 18, 2023. Upon receiving this promotion, Dawson will oversee the successful completion of permanent change of stations for thousands of military members, civilian employees, and their families every year. (U.S. Transportation Command photo by Brien Vorhees)SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – Van Ovost promoted Andy Dawson to the Senior Executive Service ranks Jan. 18. Upon receiving this promotion, Dawson will oversee the successful completion of permanent change of stations for thousands of military members, civilian employees, and their families every year.


In this interview with USTRANSCOM Public Affairs, Dawson discussed his journey through the Army and civil service, how logistics supports the warfighter, and tips for employees to further their careers. 


USTRANSCOM Public Affairs:
Can you tell me about your background? What led you to join the military?


Andy Dawson:
I grew up near Hampton Roads, Virginia, which is about an hour away from three different military installations. Because of this, everything, and everyone, whether it’s church, school, or friends, had some form of a connection to the military.


It wasn’t until I was in college that I really considered joining the service, though. I’ve always loved playing sports; I was even living my dream of playing football in college, but I knew that wasn’t going to last forever. So, surrounded by the military my whole life, I figured I might as well reach out to an Army recruiter.


When I finally did, we talked about the normal benefits many know, but what sold me was the comradery and teamwork liken to what I’ve come to love about playing sports. Honestly, this was exactly what I was looking for.


USTRANSCOM Public Affairs:
Twenty-five years in the Army, retiring as a colonel in 2018 at U.S. Transportation Command; why did you look at civil service here versus pursuing a different venture?


Andy Dawson:
That’s easy. I stayed because of the people. TRANSCOM is made up of people who value teamwork, dedication, and have a shared drive to achieve a common goal.


These are all aspects that I enjoyed about sports and the military. I love working with and being surrounded by people who care and are passionate about what they do. That’s why I wanted to join the civil service and continue this lifestyle.


Also, after serving for 25 years, I got a better sense of the bigger picture. And, when I finally arrived at the fork in the road — do I stay or move on — well, I realized I wasn’t done with this lifestyle just yet.


USTRANSCOM Public Affairs:
Looking back, from when you first commissioned, did you ever imagine that you’d be in the position that you’re in today, joining the senior executive service ranks? 


Andy Dawson, U.S. Transportation Command Defense Personal Property Management Office director, receives a Senior Executive Service flag during his promotion ceremony at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Jan. 18, 2023. Upon receiving this promotion, Dawson will oversee the successful completion of permanent change of stations for thousands of military members, civilian employees, and their families every year. (U.S. Transportation Command photo by Brien Vorhees)Andy Dawson:
Never. Absolutely never. In fact, when I was an undergraduate, I received my certification to teach high school. The military was just going to be a short-term gig. At the time, I was thinking, ‘I’ll try it, get some experience, bide my time until I can coach,’ but the next thing I knew, here I am, 30-years later.


Funny enough, after I retired in 2018, I renewed my teaching certification, not yet knowing what I was going to do next. But I find it interesting that, if we go back to that fork in the road, if I didn’t decide to stay with TRANSCOM, the other path would have led me back to teaching, the same goal I had as a 22-years-old.


USTRANSCOM Public Affairs:
What part of your new role as USTRANSCOM’s Defense Personal Property Management Office director are you excited about the most? 


Andy Dawson:
It’s the opportunity to positively impact our service members and their families. Moving, in general, can be stressful and military moves even more so. I’ve been there. I know that feeling of packing your entire life into boxes. The wait for them to arrive so you can build a sense of home in a new location. But our goal is to lessen the stress that comes with these moves; evolve the DoD’s household goods program to better meet the needs of our warfighters. 


USTRANSCOM Public Affairs:
Now that you’re a senior executive, what advice would you offer to new, or even experienced, employees looking for that next step in their career?


Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, U.S. Transportation Command commander, administers the oath of office to Andy Dawson, U.S. Transportation Command Defense Personal Property Management Office director, during his promotion ceremony at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Jan. 18, 2023. Upon receiving this promotion, Dawson will oversee the successful completion of permanent change of stations for thousands of military members, civilian employees, and their families every year. (U.S. Transportation Command photo by Brien Vorhees)Andy Dawson:
The two overarching thoughts that I’ve learned and have helped me over the decades are first, find your passion. And when you realize your passion, go after it 100%. 


The second, be open to opportunities for growth. Whether that’s a new position, more responsibility, or volunteering, take them on with enthusiasm. Also, make sure that you are eligible for upcoming opportunities. This means knowing your job, further your education, anything else to ensure you don’t disqualify yourself.


USTRANSCOM Public Affairs:
Talking about passion, you’ve been in the logistics field for over 30 years now. What do you enjoy the most about this career? What makes logistics in the DoD unique?


Andy Dawson:
The problem solving. Logistics is all about problem solving. It’s also unique in that we get to see the outcomes of our work.


Here at TRANSCOM, whether we’re delivering equipment to Ukraine, pulling troops out of Afghanistan, or moving household goods, what we do has real effects and we’re fortunate enough to be able to see the impacts. 


But that also means that we know immediately whether what we’re doing is working or not – there is no ambiguity. As a logistician, you’re either succeeding and the people are getting what they need or, if not, we go back to the drawing board and find a solution. It’s this instant feedback that requires us to work as a team, because we know that by working together, we deliver.


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