FORT BELVOIR, Virginia –
One of the most award-winning civilian employees in Defense Logistics Agency history, Sharon Murphy has earned high praise and recognition for both her professional accomplishments and leadership. As a newly-inducted Defense Logistics Agency Energy Hall of Fame member, she is profoundly proud of her 28-year DLA Energy career.
“I felt every day that we made a difference, that we contributed, and what we did had real meaning and value to the warfighter,” Murphy said of her various leadership positions in DLA Energy from 1985 - 2013, culminating in her role as DLA Energy Aerospace Energy director.
Murphy said she never considered working anywhere else.
“I always felt my work was appreciated,” she said. “When you get that kind of gratification, why go somewhere else?”
Murphy began her federal career in 1982 at the U.S. Army Korea Contracting Agency. In 1985, she moved to the Defense Fuel Supply Center as a contract administrator. She progressed quickly through the ranks, serving as director of both DLA Energy’s Alternative Fuels business unit and its Energy Enterprise Office.
She established several DLA Energy programs including Natural Gas, Electricity, Utility Privatization and Energy Savings Performance Contracting, which were recognized with the Department of Defense Productivity Excellence Award in 1994 and Superior Management Award in 1995, the David Packard Acquisition Excellence Award in 1996 and the DLA Scissors Award (for leading government reinvention) in 1997.
“(Former DLA Energy Facilities Management director and Energy Hall of Fame member) John Bartenhagen kidded me that the only reason my teams won awards and accolades, was because I was such a good writer,” Murphy laughed.
All kidding aside, her teams continued to win awards for their innovative warfighter support.
After contributing to the success of key DLA Energy programs including Bulk Fuels, Into-Plane, Posts, Camps and Stations and Ships’ Bunkers and serving as the Center Senior Procurement Official, Murphy accepted her next challenge. She moved to San Antonio, Texas, to serve as the director of DLA Energy Aerospace Energy. There, her team won two Packard Awards, the DLA Small Team Award and the DLA Green Products and Services Award during 2006 – 2007.
Murphy said one of her proudest achievements during her career with DLA Energy was creating a new supply chain to provide helium support for aerostat balloons used for surveillance by ground forces in Iraq and Afghanistan – which earned one of two Aerospace Packard awards.
“When you visit the Army’s testing sites for their aerostats, and you see the technology that’s in the belly of the aerostat balloons and the incredible intelligence that those cameras and that technology transmit back down to the ground – that actually saves our warfighters’ lives,” Murphy explained. “It can pick up cell phones, which can be used to detonate improvised explosive devices. It makes it all worthwhile.”
“When we started helium support to Iraq, it was developing a whole new supply chain from the ground up for a commodity that was not organic to that country and had never been brought in before,” she said.
Another accomplishment she is proud of is being an integral part of DLA Energy’s transition from a petroleum-based to an energy-based organization. As the leader of a team tapped to do demonstrations of total integrated energy management, Murphy was instrumental in starting DLA Energy on a clear path to our electricity mission, our energy savings performance contract program, our privatization program and expanding our natural gas program.
Murphy’s legacy is not only in the programs she initiated, but also in the employees she mentored who are now leaders in DLA Energy.
“Sharon Murphy is one of the most respected and knowledgeable contracting leaders I’ve met,” said DLA Energy Aerospace Energy Director Doug Smith, who worked for Murphy when she was Aerospace Energy director, before succeeding her in 2013. “She was an expert in her craft, and you could always count on her – if it was Sharon’s mission, you knew it would get done, and done right.”
Smith wasn’t the only one impressed with Murphy’s outstanding work ethic.
“I’ve been in the government petroleum and cryogenics business for 50 years, and Sharon Murphy has to be the brightest person I’ve ever worked for,” said DLA Energy Aerospace Energy Quality Program Manager James E. Young.
Young said Murphy taught him to see the big picture, and not be satisfied with the status quo.
“Study and learn everything you can about the entire business unit, be it requirements, contracting or finance,” Young said. “Get involved and prove that you are the person who can be counted on to get the job done.”
DLA Energy Aerospace Energy Contracting Officer Barbara Peterson said she learned from Murphy’s leadership by example.
“What made her exceptional was that she would be right there with you. She would never ask you to do something that she herself wouldn’t do,” Peterson said. “You couldn’t help but follow and respect someone with that kind of dedication to the mission. When an emergent requirement came in, she would call all the players to her office and map out the plan to the goal. When we left, everyone knew what was expected of them.”
DLA Energy Aerospace Energy Deputy Director Damon Moore gained insight from Murphy that still serves him well.
“The biggest thing I took from working with Sharon that I use today is her ability to think strategically to solve complex issues to support the warfighter,” Moore said. “I watched how she analyzed challenging contracting and logistical issues to come up with sound solutions.
“I just can’t thank her enough for the opportunities she gave me, the knowledge she shared and the confidence she showed in me; and when I made mistakes, turning those into teaching/mentoring moments,” he said.
Murphy acknowledged her own mentors: former DLA Energy Contracting and Production deputy director and Energy Hall of Fame member Ed Biddle and former DLA Energy Bulk Fuels deputy director and DLA Energy and DLA Hall of Fame member, Don Peschka.
“Any time I had challenges – and there’s nobody in the government or DLA Energy that doesn’t have them – I would use Ed as a sounding board. He is one of my favorite people in the world and I think I ended up where I did at DLA Energy largely because of his faith and confidence in me,” Murphy said.
“Don and I had a special relationship and we were always able to mentor each other when we were CBU directors. I’m so very proud of his recent induction into the DLA Hall of Fame; he’s so deserving,” she added.
After a long and successful career, Murphy still faced one more challenge – the transition to retirement.
“When I retired, it was the hardest decision I think I’ve ever made because I knew I would miss the mission, the people and feeling good about what I did at the DOD,” Murphy said. “It is an incredible honor that my years at DLA Energy are being honored in such a way.”
Since retiring in 2013, Murphy has continued to contribute to her community.
“I decided that I was going to volunteer, stay active and give back,” she said. “We moved to my hometown of Temple, Texas, and I became involved with the church I grew up in and where my husband and I were married.
“I also served on the local school board and in August, was asked to be the interim head of school,” Murphy said. “I volunteer and don’t receive a salary. So I’m back to working. The children are wonderful. To see them learn and grow in a caring environment is something I’m committed to, and I’m passionate about it. Just like my time at DLA Energy, I feel like I’m making a difference, and that’s always been important to me.”