For more than four years, Tamera Phillips has been one of BayFirst Solutions’ key leaders on site in Elizabeth City, NC, where the company has strategic operations supporting the United States Coast Guard. With a background in graphic design, Tamera had no idea how her career would bring her to BayFirst Solutions and a leadership role supporting the Coast Guard. A few weeks ago, we asked Tamera to participate in one of our Employee Spotlight interviews, and she has given some responses that really go to the heart of BayFirst’s corporate culture, values, and mission:
1. How did you first come to BayFirst Solutions? What attracted you to the company?
I was introduced to several members of BayFirst’s Senior Management team during a series of business development meetings. It wasn’t tangible at first, but I walked away from the meetings knowing BayFirst was different and I wanted to be a part of it. During the next few weeks, I continued crossing paths with my now supervisor and had the opportunity to express my desire to join the BayFirst team. Four years later, I am convinced that I made the right decision.
2. Elizabeth City, NC, is one of BayFirst’s primary locations. Tell me about BayFirst’s work in Elizabeth City?
BayFirst currently supports the United States Coast Guard Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, providing a wide range of engineering technical support and subject matter expertise for fixed-wing and rotary aircraft. Additionally, we provide project management, technical and logistics support to the ALC missions, business management systems support and training, facilitation, and execution of various Command-wide process improvement initiatives.
3. What is the most exciting and rewarding part of your job?
The people and the mission. Walking through the hangars and seeing what our teams are accomplishing never gets old. I have the privilege of working with talented, knowledgeable, and a very diverse group of people. Each one brings something significant to the project and all are dedicated to supporting the Coast Guard mission. Every time I see a Coast Guard rescue on the news, I think about how hard our teams work to make that happen.
4. You’ve mentioned how you think it’s important for you to have a regular “presence” on base. Tell me more how you cultivate relationships with BayFirst clients and partners.
The simple answer is always good communication. I try to acknowledge everyone I pass when I walk through the base and take every opportunity to meet someone new. It’s a small community and although most of the contract staff members stay long-term, the Coast Guard members transfer in and out. You never know who you might be working with on the next task order. To maintain those connections, I try to be responsive and address the issues that are important to them. Being present and interested often leads to a better understanding of the scope of work to be performed and the needs of the customer. Additionally, I put an emphasis on supporting our team members. I believe that the way we support our staff says a lot about who we are as a company. Not a week goes by that I am not approached by someone interested in working for BayFirst.
5. Do you think of yourself as a consultant? How is BayFirst different from “cookie-cutter” consulting firms?
I consider myself an extension of the corporate office rather than a consultant. I am the only full-time corporate staff member in Elizabeth City and responsible for managing multiple task orders on a local level. I am also tasked with providing the company with information needed to successfully support current and future work. As a consulting firm, BayFirst looks beyond the current task order and has been successful in anticipating and meeting the needs of the customer. That said, we are also invested in supporting and meeting the needs of the BayFirst team members.
6. Among BayFirst’s core values are commitments to integrity, diversity, and creativity. Tell me what those words mean to you as a project manager?
Integrity matters in all levels of project management. Our customer and our team members need to trust that we will follow through with our commitments. Diversity is integral to BayFirst – opening the doors to new perspectives and new ideas which lead to a creative approach to problem solving. BayFirst manages very complex projects that often require creative solutions.
7. You’ve been preparing to get your PMP certification. How has BayFirst supported you in this effort?
Professional growth is a priority at BayFirst and they offer a generous educational reimbursement benefit. I have received a great deal of encouragement to pursue my PMP certification from the senior management and my colleagues; several passed on course materials and advice on how to pass the exam. Additionally, my supervisor has covered some of my responsibilities to enable me the time off to attend the PMP course.
8. Tell us something about you that your co-workers might not know? Something you’ve done? Somewhere you’ve traveled? A hobby? What makes you, YOU?
I have a background in graphic design and website development. While working toward my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, I was selected as a Pope Scholar by the Rosalyn Carter Institute. I had the pleasure of supporting former First Lady Rosalynn Carter’s programs by providing graphic design and website support. That support included the design and development of a special-edition website commemorating President Carter’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize.
9. Tell me about how you manage your personal, family and professional life?
A good work-life balance is important to me, although in contracting it can be challenging. The key is determining priorities – what are the most pressing, what can wait. At the end of the day, I go home knowing that I have done my best. With the remainder of the evening I focus on family. That helps me feel refreshed and ready for the next day.
10. You are one of the key catalysts for BayFirst’s Elizabeth City-based employees who keeps them connected to the DC-based leadership. How do you make sure employees who may have never been to the main headquarters still feel an integral part of the company, know the company’s vision, etc.?
I would say that it’s a combined effort. When I communicate with our teams, I ensure that everyone knows that I am part of the larger team that supports them. I connect the dots so that everyone understands who people are on the other side. If I do nothing else, I want each person to feel valued not just by me, but by the folks in DC. I share their noteworthy accomplishments with senior management and for their part, they send feedback and notes of congratulation to the team members. Additionally, when Senior Staff members come to Elizabeth City, they make every effort to see as many local team members as possible. My role is not the short stop, I am a conduit of information going both ways. I don’t just forward an email, I spend time with each person one-on-one to ensure they understand the BayFirst vision.