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Most leaders do not earn their roles by accident; they achieve success by developing goals and choosing an intentional career path to achieve a leadership position. Knowing where they want to go helps them get there.

Jessica Grubbs, chief, G-8 Execution Division, Space and Missile Defense Command, said since she started in civil service as a GS-5 in December 2004 for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, she knew she wanted a leadership role, and she made tough decisions and worked hard to achieve them.

“I wanted to support the warfighter,” Grubbs said. “I knew to become a leader, I would have to develop myself as a leader by taking on more job responsibilities and taking required educational courses.”

Grubbs joined SMDC in December 2015 as a financial management analyst overseeing and executing funds for the 1st Space Brigade, 100th Missile Defense Brigade and the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense.

When Grubbs was selected as a branch chief in the Execution Division, she tackled and completed a number of educational courses to further her career such as, the Supervisory Development Course in March 2018; DAWIA Business Financial Management Certification Level III, April 2018; Army GMD Staff Course, March 2019; Department of Defense Financial Management Certification Level III, April 2019; Center for Creative Leadership-Maximizing Your Leadership Potential Program, May 2019; SMDC Emerging Enterprise Leadership Program, September 2019; and the Civilian Educational Service Advanced Course Phase II, February 2021.

During the Emerging Enterprise Leadership Program in 2019, Grubbs was introduced to Lorenzo Mack, director, Operations Directorate, SMDC Space and Missile Defense Center of Excellence, for mentoring.

“When we first met, Mr. Mack gave me a progression slide on what I needed to do to advance in my career,” Grubbs said. “In addition to his mentorship, I also received encouragement and support from Ms. Erica Ignont and other leaders throughout the command.”

In May 2020, she was asked to take on her current role.

“How quickly someone’s career progresses is dependent on how driven the individual is,” Grubbs said.

“If you want to succeed, take advantage of all opportunities, seek new challenges and don’t be afraid of failure; it’s all about growing as a leader.”

Grubbs said the benefits of developing one’s career are personal and professional growth, continuous learning, and the opportunity to teach and grow others.

“You never know your worth and what you can do without pushing yourself,” she said. “I think the only drawback is not having enough time in the day and the time it takes away from family, but as long as you have support from your family and leadership, it’ll be worthwhile in the end.”

Grubbs earned a bachelor’s in business finance from the University of Phoenix in March 2009, and on May 2 she will earn an executive master of business administration from the University of Alabama.

“It feels awesome to earn my master’s degree during COVID-19,” Grubbs said. “I’m a wife and mom, and I work a full-time job as a leader. It was challenging, but I was determined enough to finish.”

To the next generation of budget analysts, Grubbs’ final advice is that they should intentionally develop their careers.

“If you’re interested in being a part of the budget world, start seeking developmental assignments to gain knowledge and experience,” she said. “Financial management can be challenging but it’s an awesome learning experience. I haven’t officially mentored anyone, but I believe in sharing my experiences and offering guidance to assist others. I believe in growing and developing junior analysts so they can be efficient and knowledgeable as budget analysts.”

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