BTS Behind the Scenes is a chance to showcase the people who are making things happen at BTS and give you a “behind the scenes” look into their worlds. In this month’s feature we’ll talk with All-Source Intelligence Specialist Ken Hammond and learn how soccer impacts the IC, the best places to travel, and the role of the team in staying mission-focused.
What’s your origin story and how did you arrive at BTS?
I was born and raised most of my adolescent years in Michigan. I graduated from Olympia High School in Orlando, FL and then spent some years after high school working in customer service jobs and with at-risk youth, where I then joined the Army. The short answer is I arrived at BTS when the government contract exchanged ownership and I was recruited by the company to serve as an Analyst- the same role as with the previous company.
You have more soccer (aka football) experience than most! Tell us how you got into it and what you do as a coach now.
Soccer is part of my family. My Dad grew up loving the sport and was able to introduce the game to my sister and I with that same passion. He has imprinted in my mind that to always be better, I must remain a student of the game- in other words, always keep learning and honing my craft. I am currently the Director of Recreational Soccer at Tampa Bay United Soccer Club (TBUSC), Age Group Coordinator for U7/U8 Junior Academy at TBUSC, and Senior Coach for the U10 Girls Competitive Program. Next season, I will be transferring to the Florida Hawks Soccer Club to coach a U18 Girls competitive team.
What similarities do you see between teamwork in soccer and teamwork within the IC?
My view on teamwork centers around a group of individuals who develop trust and reliance on each other based on individual contributions to the collective. The reality of teamwork is that the bonds are strengthened based on individual buy-in and matched effort to meet any obstacles head on. Soccer demands this of players for a team to find success. As a coach, I emphasize to players that they must develop mastery of the two parts of the game that they can control (themselves and the ball when its in their possession) which enhances their ability to exert influence into the game. This principal applies well at work as Analysts are expected to do their due diligence and produce quality information to enhance situational awareness for decision makers.
You’re involved in a non-profit as well, can you tell us about that?
I am the Vice President on the Board for a non-profit organization called The Skinner Foundation. Having been established for almost a year now, we have worked to conduct book bag drives, provided Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to families in need, and initiated our scholarship program. We have plenty more programs and events on the horizon.
Our Mission: The Skinner Foundation is a nonprofit organization focused on combating the disparities in adolescent health & wellness through education and mentoring resources for youth in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan & Tampa Bay areas. The Skinner Foundation will form partnerships with local school districts, community organizations and other groups who are focused on creating strong, safe and sustainable programs that promote positive environments for our youth. Through our tailored sponsorship programs and services, our youth will develop a foundation of fundamental life skills that will serve as a catalyst to developing a positive self-image and molding future generations.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your role? What keeps you coming back?
Honestly, my coworkers and a good team are what keeps me going. You will have some great days and some bad days but when your team is positive and really cares, they create an environment of mental, emotional, and physical safety. One person I work with remembers all our birthdays and anniversaries, no matter what. We have had get togethers (Pre-COVID of course) and we know each other’s families. We are a family. They take care of you and they’re there for your family too. That’s the biggest thing, especially if you come from the military like I do. That’s what helps complete the mission- a successful team.
How have your active duty and civilian work experiences changed you as a person?
One thing that’s impressed into you in my line of work is looking at a situation and trying to understand where your own bias is and then accounting for that to make an objective judgment. It’s one of the hardest things you can do because all our experiences shape us and makes us who we are. To look at something and have your brain say, “This is what I think it is,” and then try to pivot that to what it actually means isn’t easy. It’s about being able to account for your bias and then work through it to form the best objective picture possible for decision makers based on the evidence presented.
Going back to my courses in Army I was taught this: Understand yourself. Be self-aware. Ask, “How are you feeling? How do I compartmentalize to ensure I stay focused on the mission?” This is important, to have that kind of self-governing, especially if you’re downrange.
Now I’m focused more on political and government aspects than in the past. Thinking, “What drives individuals to make certain decisions?” Trying to find the message behind the message…. like a puzzle. Like playing chess with your adversary trying to counter against you. I personally enjoy that aspect of it.
So just how many countries have you been to?
I have been to six different countries for leisure travel and business. I was able to live in Germany for two years which was AMAZING! I spent time in Jamaica when I was a kid to visit relatives. The Netherlands and Spain were excellent vacation spots. Afghanistan and Kazakhstan were work related, deployment types, so there was a lot less free time and exploration.
What’s been your experience as a member of the BTS team so far?
My experience with BTS has been good. They’ve opened up and been really warm. They found ways, even during COVID, to get to know us, creating that same family environment. The organization isn’t a very large one where you might feel like a number and really feels like an environment of trust.
Anything else we should know about you?
Yes! My first job was at Universal Studios working in the special events division where all the celebrities would come, and big companies would rent out the park for special events. I got to meet tons of celebrities- so many that I do not get star struck anymore. I also went to high school with Chris Johnson (CJ2K), the former running back for the Tennessee Titans (he held the NFL Combine 40-yard dash record from 2008 – 2016).