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Michael Banks: From Cavalry Scout to Engineer and Project Manager

Far East District
Published Oct. 28, 2020
Michael Banks: From Cavalry Scout to Engineer and Project Manager

Michael Banks works as a project manager in the Far East District.

Project managers (PMs) are vital to the work of the US Army Corps of Engineers. They are project catalysts who combine both customer and stakeholder expectations to ensure a project is completed on time and within budget. Michael Banks is one such Far East District Project Manager.

However, Michael’s career began in a field far removed from Construction. He joined the US Army as a cavalry scout but was unable to shake his lifelong dream of becoming an engineer. Michael studied to obtain a degree in civil engineering and later a master’s in construction management. He commissioned, became an engineer for the Army, and fulfilled his life-long dream. Now he works as the “eyes and ears” of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

“I have been able to use my work experience in the US Army to optimize my day to day operations within the Corps,” Banks says. “Organization is key because there is so much going on, but I don’t operate in a vacuum. I am able to rely on my team to share responsibility across the project. One thing is for sure,” he says, “You are never bored here! I’ve worked on all types of projects. I’ve worked on 80 million-dollar projects and I’ve worked on 150 thousand-dollar renovations. Each has their challenges but our team here at the FED is always there to meet and overcome them.”

 “The Corps is filled with problem solvers and each team member can bring a different method to solving an issue. This type of collaborative approach makes us a stronger unit and ensures we utilize the best solutions available,” Michael Banks says. “Our team is filled with subject matter experts and everyone has their role.”

The Corps’ PMs are exceptional customer experience managers who nurture collaborative relationships with their customers. They gather and report feedback on project delivery performance and proactively address customer concerns. They stay in constant communication with all stakeholders to keep them informed of plans, progress, issues, resolutions, impacts, and lessons learned.

These specialized team builders identify the areas of expertise required for a project and coordinate with their Far East District team to build and maintain a capable Project Delivery Team (PDT). PMs later lead this diverse interdisciplinary PDT through high-quality assignments that meet the customer’s expectations, the established project objectives, and the Corps requirements.

Michael Banks, FED Project Manager says, “You have to learn how to best support the team to keep things rolling. Leaning on the people around you and getting them to work with you helps us anticipate and mitigate any issues.”

As such, PMs rely on the organization’s subject matter experts who use their knowledge in civil works programs, policies, and project delivery to endorse and sometimes challenge the quality of all products procured in the support of a project.

They also work to ensure the project schedule is maintained. The Corps’ project managers achieve this by consistently analyzing performance trends, forecasting schedule, budget, manpower, or quality issues to proactively implement actions that maximize project execution. In short, the Far East District’s highly trained project managers work diligently in the background to provide project continuity.

If you or someone you know is interested in a career with the US Army Corps of Engineers, send your resume and any supporting documents to: DLL-CEPOF-WM@usace.army.mil.

You may also find career opportunities listed here:  https://www.pof.usace.army.mil/Careers.aspx.