By Lindsay Emery
In 2005, Helen Gudmundson traveled to Guam for six months to start the Defense Support Services base operations contract at Naval Base Guam, where she often had to get up at 1 a.m. to attend meetings. Managing a 16-hour time difference is one reason the special projects manager attributes her trip to Guam as one of the reasons she became more customer-focused.
"You always try to think about people's time zones and what's more convenient for them because you don't want people to have to be on a call at one in the morning when they're tired," Gudmundson said.
Gudmundson was the in-house guru for Costpoint, the timekeeping and labor system used on the DZSP contract. She continued her work with the system after PAE acquired DS2, which was one of the partners in the joint venture that held the contract, at the end of 2011. From setting up the system for new contracts, new requirements, acquisitions, integrations and payroll, Gudmundson wears a lot of hats.
Problem solving is one of the main aspects of Gudmundson's job. She works closely with Human Resources, including benefits and labor relations contacts to ensure her Costpoint configurations meet sometimes complicated specifications.
For example, each program has different requirements for leave and paid time off accruals. When the Costpoint system does not have the capability of a configuration, Gudmundson writes requirements for customizations.
"There's no cookie cutter I could put them into, so we have to develop special leave packages for every single one of them and part of that is applying it to each employee individually," Gudmundson said. "We've got over 300 different leave packages that we use right now for our employees."
While most of those leave packages are for domestic employees, groups working outside of the United States are an added complexity because laws pertaining to leave and accrual vary from country-to-country. Gudmundson juggles these responsibilities for both internal and external customers.
"I want to make sure that the customers are able to do what they need to do in the system as effectively and efficiently as possible," Gudmundson said.
Her diligent commitment to her various customers has earned Gudmundson recognition as a PAE Values Champion for the value "Be Customer-Focused." She credits her fellow coworkers and the rest of her team for her success.
"I'm one of the cogs in the wheel and it starts at the top," Gudmundson said. "I've got an incredible boss who's very supportive and incredibly knowledgeable."
Labor Relations Specialist Amy Kehoe spoke highly Gudmundson and the qualities that make her a helpful and thoughtful coworker, as well as a Costpoint expert capable of developing effective solutions.
"Helen is always focused on how our Costpoint rules affect PAE's external customers, but she views anyone who comes to her as her own personal customer," Kehoe said. "Helen is always supportive, patient, never critical and always willing to help while always treating her customers with the utmost respect and kindness."
Gudmundson enjoys being special projects manager because there are many different aspects to her role. From determining the proper configurations to finding alternate solutions, she likes seeing the Costpoint system working properly so people get paid correctly and accrue the right leave. Her diligent coordination between customers and the Costpoint system is why Gudmundson has been recognized as a Be Customer-Focused Values Champion.