Most people believe in the concept that hard work will eventually pay off. The U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, or ATEC, director of Resource Management, or RM, is an example.
Sandara D. “Sandi” Weaver is a role model for women in the workplace, and she exemplifies this year’s theme for National Women’s History Month “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.”
Weaver has been the RM director for the ATEC G8 Directorate since Sept. 2011. Born and raised in Churchville, Maryland, Weaver graduated from C. Milton Wright High School in Bel Air in 1983. She planned to attend Harford Community College in Bel Air to study office management. Before starting college, she landed her first summer job as a cashier at a local fast food restaurant in Churchville.
While in college, Weaver also worked part-time as a custodian for a professional cleaning company in Harford County. With less than two months on the job, she was promoted to supervisor.
Service to her country
After completing her associate’s degree in 1985, Weaver’s civil service career began as a GS-3 clerk typist with the U.S. Army Ordnance Center and Schools at Aberdeen Proving Ground, or APG.
“Since this was going to be the start of my federal career, I set a goal for myself, which was to be a GS-7,” Weaver said. “Most of the women were positioned [for] GS-7, so my goal was to get to that level as well.”
In 1986, Weaver accepted a position as a GS-4 budget assistant at the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center, one of ATEC’s eight subordinate organizations.
This was the start of Weaver’s career with ATEC, where she quickly moved up the ranks as a budget analyst and into positions with greater responsibility.
Weaver also returned to school in 1986. She attended classes after work at the University of Maryland, University College in Adelphi and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in management studies in 1996.
In 2000, Weaver accepted a GS-14 position at the U.S. Army Developmental Test Command, or DTC, as a budget officer. Five years later, she became DTC’s resource manager.
“I strived to become the best I could be, even when I was growing up,” Weaver said. “I never turned any opportunity down because I knew I wanted to grow, learn, meet new people, get exposure and excel at everything I was faced with.”
People and Money
Weaver said what she found most interesting about resource management was how everything revolved around people and money.
“Nothing happens without people or dollars so we’re involved in everything,” she said.
As a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005 and a mandate to consolidate with DTC, ATEC and the U.S. Army Evaluation Center relocated from Alexandria, Virginia, to APG in Sept. 2011.
After the consolidation, Weaver became the ATEC RM director.
Weaver said she thrives on the challenges she faces as RM, especially in today’s fiscally-constrained environment.
“Attacking those challenges, overcoming them and figuring out how we are going to protect, defend and acquire the resources this command needs to complete our critical mission are what keeps me attracted to this job,” she said.
Weaver’s workday centers around coordinating, communicating and interacting with her staff and other ATEC employees through email and staff and directorate meetings.
“The interaction with my staff involves giving advice and guidance on whatever specific task they’re working on,” Weaver said. “Those discussions often revolve around making sure we’re coming up with a coordinated and integrated response that truly represents the entire command.”
Michael Zwiebel, ATEC’s test management director, has known Weaver for most of her career and has worked directly with her since 2002. He said the two things he respects most about Weaver are her friendship and dedication to the success of the ATEC mission. He said respect for Weaver also extends across the Army and throughout the test and evaluation community.
“Sandi is well respected across the Department of the Army resourcing and manpower staff and well recognized at the Office of the Secretary of Defense level for her resource management knowledge and understanding of the business of test and evaluation,” Zwiebel said.
He praised Weaver for her ability to defend and secure the funding ATEC needs to execute its mission.
“Her expertise and leadership have been critical to the planning, programming, allocation, and execution of resources necessary to execute our complex mission of test and evaluation,” Zwiebel said.
Weaver admits she works hard, but she also believes in maintaining a healthy balance between her work and personal life. When she’s not working, Weaver can be found serving in her church as a member of the leadership team, teaching adult Sunday school, and handling her duties as president of the church’s executive board.
Weaver said she and her husband of 13 years, Jon, enjoy spending time together indulging their love for bowling as well as going on camping trips with their three dogs, Bridget, Molly and Odie.
“Not only do I want to be the best wife to my husband, the best mom to my dogs, and the best daughter to my mother, I also want to be the best resource manager for my organization,” Weaver said. “It’s important to have a life outside of work.”
“I encourage everyone in my directorate to do the same.”
Even in the midst of busy days and late nights spent at the job long after most folks have gone home, Weaver said the satisfaction she derives from her job makes the demands that come along with it worthwhile.
“One of my favorite things is to share my knowledge with others,” she said. “I absolutely love it when I can sit down and explain to someone how this complicated, reimbursable organization works and then just watch them understand it.”
She added that she finds it very rewarding when she and her knowledgeable staff can expertly defend and obtain the resources ATEC needs to successfully execute its vital mission.
“There’s a lot of very high-level Army priorities out there, and the fact that we do a very good job of being able to retain our resources is very rewarding.”
In June 2016, Weaver received two financial management awards. The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Comptroller, or OASA FM&C, awarded her the Civilian Capstone Award for her outstanding contributions to improving the field of resource management.
She was also awarded the Neil R. Ginnetti Civilian Award for her meritorious contributions and outstanding accomplishments in support of professional development and mentoring in financial and comptroller career management.
Neil R. Ginnetti served as the OASA FM&C Comptroller Civilian Career Program functional chief representative from 1994 to 2001. He also served two terms as the national president for the American Society of Military Comptrollers. Ginnetti was instrumental in developing strategic plans for the professional development of core competencies in the financial management career field. The Ginnetti Award symbolizes inspiration, selfless service, and commitment to mentorship.
Although Weaver was honored to receive both of these prestigious awards, she said more important than any award is the knowledge that she has equipped her resource management team with the tools they need to fill her shoes when needed.
“Receiving these awards was wonderful,” Weaver said. “But what I find just as valuable is having developed a G8 team that can do this job even if I were to suddenly walk away from it.
“I know I can leave this job and go do whatever with the confidence this group can handle it.”
Reflecting on her start as a cashier, Weaver said she’s humbled by how far she has come since 1983.
“Where I am today is so much further than I ever thought I was going to be,” Weaver said. “From my perspective, I have far exceeded my expectations and I have been very privileged and very blessed with not only the job opportunities I’ve had in my career, but also the leaders I’ve come across along the way.”
She said she learned over the years that education and hard work are keys to success and advancement and she encourages today’s young leaders to invest in their education and career development and to find something they would love doing every day.
“Go out there, work hard, produce results, and show them who you are and what you’re made of, and everything else should happen naturally,” Weaver said. “And if it doesn’t happen naturally in that organization, get out and go find another one.”
By Lindsey Monger, ATEC