Ellumen Marketing Coordinator Jack Vogel sat down with Mary to discuss her goals and aspirations as the new president of Ellumen.
Jack: So, how did you end up working in information technology, and how do you draw from your BA in religious studies and MA in applied psychology as president of Ellumen?
Mary: You know what? It’s funny: if you had talked to me when I was in college, I would have never predicted that I would end up in IT, but if you look at what I enjoy doing and excel at, it’s a different picture. Even though religious studies and psychology don’t sound like IT, both had to do with people, connections between people, and analyzing the logic behind different perspectives and topics, which aligns well with IT. As IT managers, we’re responsible for the gray area between technology and our customers.
Jack: Yeah, I totally agree. What would you say has been the most satisfying thing about working at Ellumen, and what are you excited about in your new role?
Mary: I think the most satisfying thing is the opportunity every day to problem-solve and innovate. Culturally, we’re given a lot of latitude to think outside-the-box on solutions.
“Everyone at Ellumen not only has that opportunity but is encouraged to think for themselves [about] where they can contribute next and what their path can be.”
Jack: Last year we grew a lot, and we saw a long string of successes, winning awards either through organic growth or new projects. What are your plans to continue this and propel Ellumen in this direction?
Mary: Well, the success we’ve seen in the last couple of years is because we empowered people. In 2021, instead of spending money on brochures and wining and dining customers, we’re using our money to think ahead. We want to put our resources and time into problems, struggles, and challenges our customers think about daily. We have toolkits of human capital and talent at Ellumen headquarters to support our people in the field working with our customers day-to-day. Our people intimately know the problems on the horizon for our customers and their solutions.
Jack: Cool, that’s very exciting. Can you speak about the other changes in leadership at Ellumen?
Mary: We are a company of high caliber people and prioritize promoting from within. You know, I came into Ellumen as a project manager for imaging and gained more responsibility over the years. The colleagues that I worked with did the same. Everyone at Ellumen not only has that opportunity but is encouraged to think for themselves [about] where they can contribute next and what their path can be. Too often, companies think a silver bullet is out there like they’re going to hire someone from the outside and magically make a situation better. Sometimes we forget the people best fit for the next steps are right beside us.
“In sports, the best coaches have the best staff and crew around them.”
Jack: Well said. Would you consider that to be one of the things that differentiates Ellumen from some of our competitors and others in the industry?
Mary: I think so. While it does separate us from the competition, Ellumen also has an environment where you either feel comfortable and motivated to throw yourself into the game or feel uncomfortable and decide this isn’t the place for you. We’re a company of people that are leaning forward, and sometimes that means we knock heads, but I think largely it benefits our customer.
Jack: Yeah, definitely. Speaking of our differentiators and the kind of business we’re in, do you have any insight as to where you see the industry that we work in heading in the next five years?
Mary: I think DHA and VA are looking to leave the business of having a mass of small acquisitions. Instead, they are putting together big BPAs (Blanket Purchase Agreements) and complex contracts, so they don’t have to put out a lot of little, uncoordinated ones. That’s why, as a small business, it’s really beneficial that we have gotten a big footprints in medical logistics, training, integration, security and innovative digital development. The trend towards aggregating requirements in DHA and VA is reflected in our work with them. We don’t have a bunch of little contracts at VA. Instead, we have a couple of big ones. On the other hand, DHS Homeland Security is new for us, and it’s very exciting. They are using some very progressive strategies for bidding projects. Instead of many 50-page technical props, we’re seeing orals, tech demos: different ways to assess the competition. So [we’re] very excited to see what lays in front of us with DHS.
Jack: I know we already talked about what Ellumen’s goals are and what we’re planning to do, so do you have any personal goals within your job as president?
Mary: Yeah! I’ve been learning how to support everyone around me to do what I’ve been working on the last couple of years so we can be a force multiplier. That’s a lot harder than you think. In sports, the best coaches have the best staff and crew around them. In terms of my role and mission, it’s no different from everyone else at a Ellumen: all of us have to look at this fresh year and [ask ourselves] “What are we going to do differently?” You know? “What part of ourselves do we want to grow?” If we’re all empowering the people around us, just think how fast Ellumen will grow in the year to come.