By Kerry McGinley
The Marine Corps was the first of the armed services to automate its personnel records, and Ellen Hill was the subject matter expert who helped streamline its data. She helped re-engineer the way the Marine Corps handles information of thousands of men and women in uniform in the 1990s and paved the way for modern systems to enable service members to access their records.
“The Marine Corps was the first to take that step and go automated so they could make it easier for the Marines to have access to their records and update those records themselves,” Hill said.
Hill now brings her acumen for process improvement, budgeting savvy and commitment to colleagues to PAE. Her role as Human Resources business partner with the Global Mission Services division was a natural move from her first career dedicated to making information and procedures more efficient for her fellow Marines.
“The transition for me was not that difficult,” she said. “When I’m out visiting the sites at these military bases, I just fall right back into it. It’s like I never left.”
When she helped bring service records online, the goal was to cut through red tape so that her colleagues could focus on their mission rather than worry about paper work, she said.
“You have to think about your fellow Marines, especially when they’re in a combat situation,” Hill said. The last thing they want to worry about is pay and benefits. My job was to make sure their pay was correct, they were promoted on time and that their dependents were taken care of when they were deployed. If we couldn’t do that, we failed our fellow Marines.”
Hill, the daughter of Army parents, knew by the age of 9 she was going into the military. When she entered the Marine Corps in 1977, she was one of only 2,500 women in that branch. Hill’s basic training included lessons on makeup and a tea party, she said. It’s a far cry from what her granddaughter went through recently on Parris Island, South Carolina, to become Pfc. Sarah Elders. Hill recently returned from a visit to the site of her boot camp experience to visit Elders. It was an emotional return, Hill said.
“Every time I think about it, I get really choked up,” Hill said. “Being on the base at Parris Island where I went to boot camp just brought back all of the memories of my being there. When I dropped her off at her barracks it was all tears—happy tears.”
Hill served more than 21 years in uniform. She garnered numerous commendations including a Meritorious Service Medal, which she earned for overall and sustained administrative excellence over the course of her career.
The work ethic and resolve Hill developed in the Corps continues to serve her well at PAE, said Jennifer Chancellor, senior manager of Human Resources.
“I admire her service to our country in uniform; when she enlisted being a female Marine was a rarity compared to today,” Chancellor said. “I know that since she was successful in the Marines, she can do anything that comes her way.”
With both acute attention to detail and an understanding of the big picture, Hill helps ensure the team is working at maximum efficiency, Chancellor said.
“Ellen is an essential part of the GMS HR team, and her number one priority is to serve our employees,” Chancellor said. “Her commitment to ensuring that each employee she serves has their pay, benefits and other issues resolved timely allows our employees to focus on the mission of taking care of our customers.”
Hill’s duties include training and educating new hires and colleagues, testing new business processes, supporting contracts all over the world and working one-on-one with colleagues to ensure they make the most of their benefits. She enjoys visiting contract locations to meet coworkers in person and to see first-hand how the company contributes to essential missions of the U.S. government, she said.
“I enjoy actually going out to the sites and actually interacting with employees at their level so that they have a face to associate with HR,” Hill said. “When we do these contract startups, I’m in my element.”
Much like her work for the Marines, Hill’s role with PAE enables her to be a part of supporting others in reaching their full potential.
“I see my role within HR and PAE as one that recognizes that the employees have valuable contributions they can make to PAE,” she said. “This is a collaborative effort and will only happen if people are developed and are given the opportunity to contribute their knowledge, skills and talents. Employees must be placed into the right job, be trained and be given feedback if they are to perform at high levels.”