By Lindsay Emery
When Latoya Jones decided she needed a change in 2017, she decided just moving to another city or state wasn't enough. Instead, she accepted a position to join her husband in South Korea – 7,000 miles away from her home in Washington, D.C.
Jones provides support for the National Security Solutions and Mission Support Group SATOC contract, which provides construction security monitoring services to the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
Jones is the point of contact for everything administrative, including new hire onboarding. Once an employee is hired for a position based in South Korea, they need to go through steps before Jones can put them on a plane. She collects detailed personal identification information and submits the information to the client for approval. She is in constant communication between managers in South Korea and personnel from departments based in Virginia offices, including Security, Human Resources, Finance and other PAE locations around the world.
In addition to coordinating new employees' arrivals, Jones works with them to find housing, receive their credentials and attend additional training. Jones submits monthly reports to the clients and ensures employees have site access.
"I enjoy helping people because my coworkers because some of the process is so administratively labor-intensive and since they always have lots of questions about everything," Jones said. "I like the fact that I'm able to help the employees with their work-related problems."
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a lot of the processes Jones oversees to be delayed or changed. On top of the information Jones normally provides to the customer, she also submits their arrival information to comply with South Korea's 14-day COVID-19 quarantine requirement and tracks employees who have received the vaccine.
Jones is currently in the beginning stages of a Green Belt project to improve a status of forces agreement process, which employees have to complete before they can receive an A3 visa to work in the country.
The Green Belt training is part of PAE's Continuous Improvement program that encourages employees to develop better processes for clients and themselves through various projects. These projects can be submitted for the quarterly and annual Kaizen Award competitions for prizes.
Her keen attention to detail and delivery services of high standards to the customer has earned Jones recognition as a PAE Values Champion for the value "Work Smart."
"To me, work smart means not working harder, but working smarter and more efficiently to get the job done and to find innovative ways to get the job done," Jones said.
"Jones's responsibilities have grown during her time at PAE because of her ability to master tasks in a short period of time," Program Manager Christopher St. John said in the nomination he wrote for Jones. "Her ability to face complex problems with meticulous and logical approach for long term solutions is consistently on target and on time."
He said managers and employees alike agree that Jones is the go-to person for all things administrative.
"Latoya's work ethic is fueled with integrity, efficiency, forward thinking, proactive and productive," St. John said. "Latoya routinely delivers ahead of deadlines and circles back to ensure that all team members are on time as well. I think of her as my deputy project manager."
Jones said she appreciates how her work is recognized by her coworkers and through the Values Champion recognition.
"Oftentimes, we're so busy here and my head is buried in work that sometimes I don't see the managers for a week or so at a time—let alone talk to them—because everyone is so busy," Jones said. "So it just lets me know that people recognize the great work that I do for them."