‘I’M SO PROUD OF OUR EMPLOYEES’: As he retires from government service, Campbell reflects on highlights of his federal career
FORT LEE, Va. – From tank platoon leader in the Army to member of the Senior Executive Service with the Defense Commissary Agency, there have been many highlights in Rogers E. Campbell’s government career.
However, for him none of his achievements stand out more than the time he’s spent as executive director, leading the Store Operations Group through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I feel the most significant thing I’ve done is leading 11,000 people – U.S. and local nationals – through the uncertain and challenging demands of COVID-19 with the support of our headquarters leadership,” Campbell said. “It was my privilege to be in charge of Store Operations at this time, and it was, and still is, a very stressful period of time.
“The first five or six months of COVID, our people had to react to all the variances between the different installations’ base access policies and safety protocols within all the services,” he added. “With all this confusion, and at great risk to themselves, I was so proud at how our store employees conducted themselves. With all that was going on, children out of school, employees on quarantine, our people delivered the commissary benefit designated ‘mission-critical’ during a crisis when our patrons needed it most.”
Campbell retires Jan. 31. Ronald K. Hurt, director of store support and deputy to the Store Operations Group executive director, will be the acting executive director. DeCA will recruit Campbell’s permanent replacement in accordance with DOD policy pertaining to SES positions.
Campbell became an executive director in March 2019, where he managed and directed tactical store support for DeCA’s nearly 240 commissaries configured under 25 field zones in 46 states, 13 countries and two U.S. territories.
Bill Moore, DeCA director and CEO, noted Campbell’s service to the military and their families, especially during the pandemic. Campbell is scheduled to be awarded the DeCA Civilian Career Service Award during a headquarters ceremony on Jan. 28.
“Our stores are on the front lines of this pandemic, and Rogers’ stellar leadership during this crisis has allowed us to a fulfill our critical mission to provide the products our customers desperately needed during this outbreak,” Moore said. “His professionalism and dedication served us and our military community very well. We wish him all the best in the next chapter of his life.”
Before entering civil service and joining DeCA in 2010, Campbell worked for more than 30 years in the private sector in a career associated with selling and marketing various consumer goods. With DeCA, he was appointed to the Senior Executive Service and subsequently selected to be director of the agency’s then East Region before advancing to be executive director of the Sales, Marketing and Policy Group in 2011. In that position he oversaw directorates responsible for the agency’s sales, marketing, policy, health and safety, and business development.
Campbell sees the future success of the commissary benefit linked to its ability to employ new technology and innovative ways of doing business.
“We have to embrace new modalities like big data mining to better identify who is shopping, why or why not, what they want and how we can better serve them,” he said. “Commercial retailers are using big data more, loyalty cards, home delivery and supply chain innovations to employ cutting-edge sales/merchandising tactics. Under Mr. Moore and his senior leadership team, I’m confident that we are poised to do likewise and better serve our military community by expanding commissary usage.”
Campbell’s connection with the military began as an Army armor officer from 1974-77, serving as a tank platoon leader at Fort Hood, Texas, and later in Stuttgart, Germany.
After the Army, he worked in various corporate marketing positions including managing partner of Marketcorp International, a brand strategy consultancy; senior director of marketing for Nabisco Foods Group; and director of global new products for Schering-Plough Consumer Healthcare. He began his consumer-packaged goods career in brand management at General Mills.
In 2004, he began his connection with military resale when he became vice president and chief marketing officer at Overseas Military Sales Corp, where he was responsible for the marketing, sales planning and merchandising of the new car sales programs for both the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) and the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM).
“As a single lieutenant, my only use of the commissary at Fort Hood was loading up on canned goods like Dinty Moore stew before field training exercises because I didn’t like C-Rations,” Campbell recalled.
“My plan had always been to pursue a career in consumer-packaged goods marketing,” “Never did military resale enter my mind until I became VP of marketing for exchange overseas car sales, selling American-made cars to AAFES and NEXCOM consumers.”
As he leaves DeCA, Campbell feels it is important to remind the experienced members of Team DeCA to pass on their knowledge and wisdom before they walk out the door.
“DeCA is a wonderfully diverse organization with a wealth of experience that is apparent in its workforce,” Campbell said. “But this depth of experience exposes a risk: retirements. I met an employee who was a manager at the same store for 40 years – and that’s not uncommon. When they end their career, how much of that knowledge do they leave behind?
“We owe it to our workforce to spend time, mentoring and sharing the knowledge with them as they conclude their commissary careers,” he added. “Leave a legacy behind; don’t just retire.”
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.