District employee shares about overseas assignment, encourages others to look abroad

Published Dec. 18, 2018

Louisville District accountant Mark Brohm recently returned from his overseas assignment, where he served in several capacities in the resource management office for the Europe District. 

Brohm, who started at the Louisville District in January 2007, joined the Europe District in April 2015 after learning about an opportunity overseas from his supervisor at the time, Rick Shultz. 

“I had always wanted to live abroad, but the idea of permanently moving from friends and family in Louisville held me back,” Brohm said. “The USACE Europe District provided the perfect solution with the return rights policy, allowing me to work at the Europe District for three to five years while having a position held for me at my home district in Louisville.”

Brohm started his assignment in Germany as a systems accountant and was later promoted to finance and accounting officer. With most Europe District employees on a three-to-five-year assignment, causing an attrition rate of more than 20 percent, there was always extra work to be done outside of normal position duties. 

“Aside from receiving a promotion, the professional development was second to none,” Brohm said. 

While at the Europe District, Brohm also spent time working in engineering and construction division as a program analyst, temporarily served as acting resource management office chief, and he was able to get involved in operating budget formulation. Brohm also organized and taught a 30-minute yoga class once a week at the district office bringing employees together.

The camaraderie developed overseas amongst coworkers was a highlight for Brohm. 

“It feels like I’ve made professional and personal relationships with someone at just about every district in USACE,” Brohm said. 

Brohm was Europe’s Hero of the District September 2016 and before returning home, Europe District Commander Col. John Baker recognized Brohm’s efforts and awarded him with a Superior Civilian Service Award for all of his achievements. 

“I’d say my biggest accomplishment there was going from a red to green rating on the Military Construction in Progress Chief Financial Officer test plan which is basically an audit testing requirement developed by Headquarter's Resource Management to ensure that we have proper processes and controls in place to achieve an unqualified audit opinion,” Brohm said. “And skiing the steepest run in the Swiss Alps.”

Although being away from family and friends in Louisville was difficult, Brohm took full advantage of the travel opportunities while abroad and visited 23 different countries during his assignment.

Brohm highly encourages others to explore overseas opportunities. 

“There are too many reasons to list as to why employees should consider taking an overseas assignment,” Brohm said. “If anyone is on the fence, I’d be happy to talk to them.”

Currently, the Louisville District has approximately seven employees on overseas assignments.