Manuel Ugarte; Director and Strategic Accounts Manager of the United States Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC)

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In this edition of “State of Readiness”, I welcome Manuel “Manny” Ugarte, Director and Strategic Accounts Manager of the United States Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC).  The US Army’s CCDC mission is to provide the research, engineering, and analytical expertise to deliver capabilities that enable the Army to deter and, when necessary, decisively defeat any adversary now and in the future.  And the CCDC’s vision is to be the scientific and technological foundation of the Army Modernization Enterprise through world-leading research, development, engineering and analysis.

Manny and I start by talking about his current role at the CCDC and the confluence of research, data, data analytics, and converting that research and data into a basis for making decisions about the future operations and capabilities of the US Army.  Of particular interest is that the nature of what the CCDC and he are doing goes contraire to a lot of his past experience and training.  After all, research begets innovation, and innovation requires the ability to think and act outside the box – to question everything even down to the core of how the US Army operates.

But the real great story is about Manny’s life journey; Manny was born in Puerto Rico, the son of Cuban exiles escaping from the Castro regime.  After escaping Cuba, his father earned his BSc in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Mayaquez afterwards “earning his salt” and providing for his family.  From this experience his father instilled in Manny his life’s values and the notion of serving their adopted country as a way of giving back.  There was no tradition of military service in the family (except for his great grandfather serving in the Spanish Navy way back when). 

After University, he found himself assigned in Panama.  And this is where the story really gets interesting; it includes all the elements of a great story.  There is a warehouse full of surplus vending machines and Manny decides to moonlight as an entrepreneur while serving as an officer in the Army (or is it the other way around?).  There is his finding the love of his life (with whom he took forever to actually court) and who happens to be a lawyer who helps him with his business dealings (which is the excuse he found for keeping her close).  And there is the vicious competition of the old ladies selling empanada’s and coke on the corner – culture kills strategy.

This is a really great story.  In a very real way, it is the story of America, the American Dream, and everything that is great, and can be great, about the American experience.  Give a listen.  I am sure you will find it as funny, enjoyable, and inspirational as I did.  And I am certain you will end-up with a smile on your face and a bounce in your step.

Guest: Manuel “Manny” Ugarte

Manuel “Manny” Ugarte

Manuel “Manny” Ugarte is the Director & Strategic Accounts Manager to oversee the Science and Technology strategic planning, program, budget & execution of experimental and state-of-the-art capabilities of the US Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command – the subordinate organization of the nascent Army’s Futures Command.  His leadership and military experiences have focused on strategic planning, process improvement, operations, and complex problem solving. As an executive leader, he embraces operational excellence methods, directing high performance teams on problem-solving techniques informed by business intelligence.

Manny has served the United States in its operations around the world as a US Army Officer and Executive for over 25 years.  Throughout his career, Manny has held many positions, including stints as Director of Analytics at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Chief Operating Officer at the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), and Senior Operations Research Analyst at the Army Futures Command. 

He earned his BASc of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering as an ROTC Cadet from Norwich University, his MBA from Tarleton State University, his MSc in Operations Research from the Naval Postgraduate School, and his MEng in Engineering and Industrial Management from Penn State University.  He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt practitioner and Master Black Belt candidate from the US Army.  Manuel recently completed an Executive Program certification in Management and Leadership from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Organization:  US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command


Headquarters; Aberdeen Proving Ground, Aberdeen, Maryland

Year founded; February 2019

Company type; Defense / Military Industry

Company size; ~ 26,200 civilian employees, military, and contractor workforce with a combined annual direct and reimbursable budget in excess of $6B

Specialties; Engineering, Research & Development for US Army science & technology

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HireMilitary utilizes the Department of Defense (DoD) Skillbridge program to promote civilian job training for transitioning service members. Any eligible service member within 180 days of leaving the military can seek a full-time (40-hours per week), unpaid internship with an employer up to 6 month period anywhere in the country—even remote. The requirements are that the internship must include an interview and offer a high-probability of
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