By Terrence Nowlin
Rosann Peterson is known for her savvy in transitioning teams, even at a distance.
“I’m the business operations manager for the NMS [National Maintenance Strategy] program,” Peterson said. “What we do is vehicle maintenance for the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police in Afghanistan, as well as training of the local nationals.”
She provides finance direction to the program’s key players, including PAE workers and subcontractor Automotive Management Services employees, who are on the ground in Afghanistan or at AMS headquarters in Dubai. Peterson leads her initiatives from her desk across the globe in Ohio, and she does it well. In fact, her efforts earned her the designation of PAE Values Champion for the value “Work Smart.”
Peterson’s smart tactics were in full swing in 2017 when the Afghan National Army contract consolidated with the Afghan National Police contract that had been managed by AMS. Now part of the operations under PAE, AMS personnel needed to be trained on new finance processes, and Peterson was up to the task. She made them efficient beyond expectations, according to Senior Manager of Financial Planning and Analysis Arya Zargarian, Peterson’s supervisor.
She said her successes come down to building strong relationships.
“I think it’s about establishing a one-on-one rapport with our finance counterpart over at AMS,” Peterson said. “A piece of that was going over to Dubai and meeting with them in small groups and talking through with them their processes and how we approach the same type of thing to come up with a good combined approach. They got to see that we’re viewing this as teamwork. We want to hear their thoughts and concerns.”
“She’s someone who leads by example,” Zargarian said. “She’s always willing to roll her sleeves up and do the work herself.”
In her nomination, Finance Director Joelle Guy said Peterson has developed “engagement strategies and a solid teambuilding approach” that resulted in “exceeding revenue targets and achieving a DSO under 60 by the end of the quarter.”
DSO is “days sales outstanding,” an important measure of success for Peterson and the finance team. It’s the span of time from end of a billing period to receipt of payment for services rendered. In contracting, Peterson said 60 days is the standard before factoring in the added complexities of subcontracting work, which can slow down the process.
It hasn’t slowed down Peterson, however.
“We are actually under 60 days,” she said. “Given that so many of our costs are subcontracted out, that’s a huge accomplishment. We’re in the 40s. That means we’re able to bill and collect in the same month.”
Peterson said she’s worked in finance for 20 years and that this role is an interesting departure from the cut-and-dry experience usually associated with finance work. She said the challenges are unique in a war-torn environment, citing a stark example.
“We supply lunch for the local nationals that work there, as well as expats and foreign nationals,” Peterson said. “You have to make sure the vendors you’re buying the food from are solid vendors because you don’t want people who are poisoning the food. There are a lot of unique challenges in working in an environment like that that you take for granted being here in the U.S. that you don’t consider those as risks.”
Working closely with AMS, she’s traveled to their Dubai headquarters three times, and the finance team joins the operations team for weekly calls with AMS. The program team’s hard work has yielded business results beyond Peterson’s finance efficiencies.
“Our contract has grown a lot too,” she said. “We started off with a contract value of $400 million and now we’re up to almost $1 billion.”