By Lindsay Emery
Stephanie Willard's continued dedication to one of her program customers led to a recommendation that landed her the program manager position on another contract. Willard now serves as forensic science officer and site lead on the U.S. Navy's Naval Expeditionary Forensics and Biometrics contract, as well as program manager on a contract supporting the Project Management Office of U.S. Department of Defense Biometrics.
Forensics is one of Willard's favorite aspects of her numerous roles given her background as a DNA examiner.
"What I've always found interesting is how I'm able to leverage my forensic background into government contracting," Willard said. "Leveraging that expertise and finding more programs and additional ways that we can grow forensic business within PAE."
Willard also received her Project Management Professional certification, which focuses on the fundamentals of operating a program. Many government contracts are asking program managers to have the PMP certification and they are becoming more popular.
While juggling multiple contracts, Willard said she finds it important to be disciplined in every aspect of her roles. On the NEFB contract, Willard oversees everything from funding to supervising 14 direct reports with one direct report having 30 people underneath them. There are forensic experts deployed in Bahrain, Kuwait and Djibouti from the laboratory.
As the program manager for the PM Biometrics contract, Willard oversees a three-person foreign military sales operation with Iraq. These forensic experts train the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service in fingerprinting and digital forensic services so that they can maintain their own laboratory.
Willard's dedication to her customers and, constantly adjusting to meet their changing needs have earned her recognition as a PAE Values Champion for "Demonstrate Discipline." When asked about Willard's work ethic, Program Supervisor Meghan D. Costanzo said Willard has always been a team player.
"I had the pleasure of working under her as an employee and now I'm working alongside her on the management team, allowing perspective from both sides of the fence," Costanzo said. "Stephanie's tenacious attitude is the driving force on our team. She is capable of maintaining customer focus while balancing corporate goals, despite the extra time and effort it may require on her end."
Costanzo explained that her determination to find solutions is what makes Willard a great coworker and employee.
"Once I get into something I really try to have the discipline to make it better and understand the process and then speak to that process," Willard said. "But sometimes it can be difficult. There's a lot of work involved in order to figure out a process."
In a lead role for two separate contracts, Willard knows it's important to require discipline not only from herself but from her employees for consistent outcomes for the customer.
"I think discipline leads to consistency and relationship building and I think it can be important in everything that we do as managers and as customer service representatives of the company."