His is a familiar face around the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville. Since his arrival in 2013, he has shown in each position that he puts people first, mission second.
Albert “Chip” Marin III assumed the duties as the Center’s programs director May 15. He had been acting programs director since Charles Ford retired March 3.
As programs director, Marin oversees the planning, programming and execution of projects across more than 40 separate programs in delivering an annual project execution averaging $2 billion. He is also the senior civilian and commander's civilian deputy for the execution of all support functions, day-to-day operations, operational and strategic communications internally and externally, and is responsible for acquisition planning, scheduling and awarding of numerous major acquisitions through which 5,500 contract awards and task orders are made annually.
The Portland, Maine, native said he sees two challenges at Huntsville Center: taking care of employees and getting the mission accomplished.
“Since this is such a busy place with everyone always fully engaged with more work than they have time available, I want to make sure people are taken care of,” Marin said. “To maintain a professional, happy workforce you have to look for ways to take care of people.
“If you take care of your people, they will get the mission accomplished,” said Marin, who got his start at Huntsville Center as the branch chief for Facilities Repair and Renewal, Energy Execution Program and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Fuels.
Marin said the second challenge is managing the mission. “I will be looking for efficiencies across the programs and how we share lessons learned.”
His year-and-a-half as director of the Installation Support and Programs Management Directorate helped prepare him for these challenges.
“ISPM does the yeoman’s share – 90 percent – of the annual obligations at Huntsville Center,” Marin said. “So, when we do $2.2 billion worth of work, much of it came out of ISPM. Thirty-six of the Center’s programs are in IS.”
Marin said working in installation support taught him the requirements of the totality of all the programs and how to better prepare the Center for any surge in work.
“I was able to put systems and processes in place that allow the leadership to see the totality of the work,” he said. “It allows you to see programs and know in advance of year-end if there will be a problem with resources. If you know there will be a problem in advance, you can reprioritize programs to get the resources in place to solve the problem.
“The last two fiscal year-end efforts were a lot less strenuous than previous years,” Marin said. “It was because of the processes in place to better forecast and see when problems were happening. It allows us to be proactive rather than reactive.”
Marin said he believes the key to a manager’s success is communication.
“Managers have to plan the program, communicate that plan to employees, and get feedback to ensure everyone understands and buys into the plan,” Marin said. “And then, the manager needs to get out of the way and let people do the job. You have to periodically check on programs to see where they are and ensure they are on track and have the resources they need. The bottom line is you have to communicate. Email cannot be the only form of communication; talk to people and make them come back to you.”
Marin said he thinks Huntsville Center’s work will continue to grow, and to meet that challenge, the Center needs to be resourced to take on that new work.
“I think what has happened in the past, the biggest measurement of success was how much work you were bringing in without regard to the resources,” Marin said. “When new work comes, you need to ask: is it something we can do? Do we have the resources? And if we do not, we need to attain the resources before we can take on new work.”
Before joining Huntsville Center in December 2013, Marin was the USACE strategic liaison officer to U.S. Army Central Command (ARCENT) and the Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC). ARCENT and CFLCC are the senior Army-level commands responsible for the warfights in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. In this position, he planned, coordinated and gained funding for all USACE support to ARCENT, CFLCC and U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). He also served as a member of the ARCENT commanding general’s senior planning group responsible for developing, wargaming and writing all contingency and operational plans in the CENTCOM area of responsibility. Marin also served the Corps of Engineers as a project engineer, resident engineer and deputy area engineer in the Far East District.
He is a career Army officer with more than 25 years in uniform working in the engineering field.
Before joining USACE, he worked as a Pacific area program and project manager in the Federal Government Group with the Fluor Corporation, an international engineering, procurement and construction management firm.
He is an active member in the Society of American Military Engineers, the Army Engineer Association and the Project Management Institute.