Customer-Focused Values Champion Delivers on a Global Scale

By Terrence Nowlin

The work of a dedicated employee can leave a lasting impact on his or her team. The indelible mark of care and competence lasts for years—and in the case of Mirwais Sadaat, across continents.

In 2012 and 2013, Sadaat was an Afghan local working as a finance officer on a PAE contract there.

“When his supervisor—whom he worked for in Afghanistan—came back to the U.S., he said, ‘We’ve got to look up Mirwais. He worked for me in Afghanistan and he’s back here now and we’ve got to find a home for him,’” said Ben Korin, PAE Business Operations senior manager. “We ended up bringing him in for an interview and were really happy that we did. We have locals working for us all over the world, and very few of them ever get a chance to come back to the corporate office.”

From the PAE office in Arlington, Virginia, Sadaat quickly made a positive impact on the program that supports U.S. embassies in Moscow and Beijing, a contract PAE has held in several iterations since 1987. Since he began working as a financial analyst in October 2018, Sadaat has helped modernize operations with process improvements and decisions made through financial analysis.

Just as critical to the contract’s success, Sadaat took time to understand and improve the customer-facing side of the program’s finance operations. That’s why Korin nominated him as a PAE Values Champion for the value Be Customer-Focused.

Sadaat’s supervisor Elliott Marquis, Embassies Business Operations manager, said Sadaat improved the program’s invoicing system.

“(Mirwais and his team) essentially worked with the customer to get a better understanding of (what they) wanted to see going forward, and then having to implement that process with the customer,” Marquis said. “It wasn’t a one-shot, fix-all, it was an iterative process with the customer, and as a result of that they were able to reduce the cycle time.”

Success for an invoicing process is measured in “days sales outstanding”—the average time it takes from a service or product fulfillment to receipt of payment. After Sadaat’s improvements, the original measure was slashed by nearly 75 percent. He said the improvements are beneficial for both the customer and PAE.

“The customer is so happy because every Monday they’re getting the same number of invoices and they’re on time,” he said. “They can also pay us on time based on that.”

While Sadaat’s role entails a breadth of finance-related functions, he said his focus is analysis. The insight he provided to the federal government was integral to PAE successfully negotiating additional compensation from the customer for rising costs associated with situational impacts like geopolitical tensions, a competitive labor market and difficulty with employees acquiring proper visas, Korin said.

“We put together a whitepaper, and Mirwais was a big part of that,” Korin said. “We made a case for higher labor rates and the government approved that. That was what was able to turn the program around financially. Mirwais was the finance analyst who was crunching the numbers. He was really the guy behind the scenes from the finance side that made sure everything made sense.”