Christine Brayman is a people person and has a global outlook on life. She’s bringing a change to the Wilmington District, not just as the first woman and non-engineer to hold the position as the new Deputy District Engineer for Programs and Project Management, but also as a leader with strong relationship-building skills.
“It’s very important to be able to communicate with stakeholders as well as all different levels of government from local mayors to members of congress. Relationships and good communication are important, both internally and externally,” the upstate New Yorker said.
Brayman, who holds undergraduate degrees in economics and political science from the University of Rochester and a Masters degree in public administration and public policy from Rutgers University, rose up in the ranks quickly in the Corps because of her willingness to explore new ideas, work new places, build relationships and listen to grasp new ideas and concepts.
“I have exposure to a lot of the coastal issues, particularly budgetary and legislative issues from working at all levels of the Corps (Districts, Divisions, Institutes and Headquarters touching every Major Subordinate Command east of the Mississippi) ” she said. “I understand the cradle to grave concepts of the projects we do and the project management business process concept.”
As for regionalization, Brayman welcomes it because she’s seen first hand what it offers.
“The Corps’ budget, not withstanding significant events like Hurricane Katrina, has been declining. And because of that we have to figure out how to do the things the Nation wants and expects from us more efficiently with less staff. On the flip side, events like Katrina brought so much work to us it simply overwhelmed a district like New Orleans and it overwhelmed a division as large as the Mississippi Valley Division. By regionalizing, we’re going to take some of those peaks and valleys and smooth them out and make things just a little more contiguous. It will give people opportunities to work on more challenging projects.”
Brayman realizes that change is happening rapidly throughout the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and that it affects organizations differently. However, she deals with change head on.
“I think there are a couple of things that motivate change. There’s nothing like a sense of urgency. If demand for our services continues to be high with critical deadlines and the supply of our resources (funding, staff, etc.) is declining, you almost get to a point of crisis where if you’re not proactive change will happen to your organization from outside. And that’s not the best way to do things. But a sense of urgency makes people think out of the box. And I encourage thinking outside of the box. I encourage risk taking. People could try something different as long as it’s not illegal or unethical. We can change something if it doesn’t work. If you make a mistake that’s okay as long as you don’t make the same mistake repeated times.”
Brayman believes in living by example. As a very principled person she plans to help move the District in a direction that reflects Army values and the importance of relationships and communication particularly as the Corps continues to adapt to change in the Nation’s needs with continuing constrained resources.
“If I am showing that I support different concepts, be it regionalization or other things, and I’m not just paying lip service to them, than as a leader, I can set a tone for an organization. I believe in the Army values. I believe in selfless service. I believe in passionate enthusiasm for your job. I think people will see that in me.”