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Highlights of the November 2017 Issue

 

DoD EXECUTIVE INTERVIEW
Working Together, Understanding the Customer, And Optimizing the Benefit

 

Stephanie Barna, Performing the Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs

In late October, while she was Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Stephanie Barna spoke with Helen Scheller, president of Executive Business Media, which publishes Exchange and Commissary News, about the current state of commissary affairs and possible directions for future commissary and exchange reforms. Their first topic was the appointment of resale veteran Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rear Adm. Robert Bianchi, SC, USN (Ret.), to lead the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) on the next stage of the agency’s voyage of evaluation and transformation, while concurrently serving as NEXCOM CEO.

E and C News: First of all, thank you for your time and for providing industry and ourselves some insight into the recent appointment of Robert Bianchi to lead the commissary system. What was the thinking behind your selecting him for the interim DeCA directorship?

Stephanie Barna: This is not an assignment that Rear Adm. Bianchi sought out. Rather — as he has so many times in his career — when asked, he agreed to step up to the challenge. Rob brings to the job a wealth of business experience gained at the helm of the multi-billion dollar worldwide Navy Exchange operation. He’s performed exceedingly well in leading a very diverse resale and services portfolio. Further, his career is marked by a fierce dedication to the needs of military members and their families, and a similarly unwavering commitment to the mission needs of commanders at all levels. I felt certain that he would bring this same expertise and focus to bear on the challenges facing DeCA. Rob’s assignment also provides the opportunity to explore and drive

I also placed significant value on the fact that Rob is an authorized patron; that he could shop in our commissaries and assess for himself, from a customer’s perspective, how well DeCA is performing — both in our day-to-day operations and with regard to the transformational initiatives that we have undertaken. The fact that Rob can shop in his “own” stores, and that his wife, Beth, is a commissary shopper, is more than sentiment — it was critically important to me.

E and C News: Is there a role here for the other service exchange executives?

Barna: Most certainly there is. As the Department moves forward to chart the future of the defense resale enterprise, I expect that both Tom Shull [Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) director/CEO] and Cindy Whitman Lacy [Marine Corps Business and Support Services Division (BSSD) director] will play a significant role — they will be personally engaged in that process. Both Tom and Cindy are inspirational leaders with a keen sense of business acumen, and both are committed to the benefit and the service of — as Tom Shull calls them — the “best customers in the world,” our military patrons. I’ve spoken with each of them personally about how we can work together across the enterprise. Both have pledged their direct engagement and support. ...

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Snapshot
RESALE SNAPSHOT — AUGUST 2017

 

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