Customer-Focused: PAE Values Champion Keeps Big Efforts Moving Forward

By Terrence Nowlin

Project management could be described as a sort of workplace air traffic control tower: a calculated coordination of tasks and people to keep multiple planes—or projects—in the air. Senior Project Manager Bridget Vurgich said the challenge of coordinating those movements is exciting to her at PAE because she touches on all parts of the global organization. 

"I get to be a jack-of-all trades," Vurgich said. "I have to know a little about most areas in order to sum things up into the project schedule."

Vurgich joined PAE in May of 2018 and by August had been tasked with a major project for Kennedy Space Center. Her work implementing numerous IT systems on a new contract at the facility was the basis of not one, but two nominations as a PAE Values Champion for the value Be Customer-Focused. 

Program Management Office Director Brenda Rouser, Vurgich's supervisor, said the government customer had a last-minute request for a deliverable that typically requires weeks to produce. Facing what seemed to be an impossible task on a shortened timeline, Vurgich took the opportunity to shine. 

"Bridget was able to do a quick assessment of what needed done and then rallied her team members that were on site," Rouser said. "They worked well into the middle of the night to deliver the necessary security documentation to the NASA customer by 8 a.m. the next morning. She proceeded to brief the NASA customer later that morning."

Vurgich said it's the ultimate delivery that makes undertaking such a challenge worthwhile. 

"It was intense, but it was the kind of intensity that just makes you feel really proud when everything does launch," she said. "Even if there are problems with the launch, you know you're giving it your absolute best, and the project team is giving it their best. And it's celebrated afterward, and it feels good."

Global Mission Services, Vurgich's internal customer for the Kennedy Space Center project, submitted the other PAE Values nomination recognizing her work on the project. 

"She displayed a confidence and a forthrightness in the challenges that was really spectacular," said GMS Vice President of Infrastructure and Logistics Jim Sands in the nomination. 

Vurgich said the most difficult concept to implement in project management is integration management. In other words, a good project manager must work closely with the end-user to ensure the solution is viable for the long term. 

"My definition for success in integration management has to be a holistic approach," she said. "It can't just be the specific technical sign-off that we achieve. But more so, that the user in the end is happy with the deliverable. Helping them to understand what they want is sometimes the biggest challenge. It's the requirements gathering, it's the conversations, it's clarifying for the umpteenth time to make sure you're getting the 'net-net' of what they're looking for."

That comprehensive approach to addressing user needs results in happy customers. That dedication to thoroughness isn't lost on Rouser. 

"She exemplifies honesty and integrity and leads by example," Rouser said. "She is willing to roll up her sleeves and help her project teams any way that she can to meet customer deliverables."