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 Chief Growth Officer Theresa Dessaso and talk silicon valley, camping, glamping, and the recipe for success when it comes to culture, growth, and tech sector talent.
You’ve run your own company in the past- how would you say that experience shaped your perspective when it comes to leadership and business development?
Having built a company from a napkin at a Starbucks, on a shoestring budget, bootstrapping it all the way, I understand the financial challenges and the need to always hustle and be willing to learn everything about the business. I find that I surround myself with those that can roll up the sleeves and figure it out along with me. We don’t have all the answers, but we need to be able to figure it out together, laugh at some of the mistakes, learn from them, and be better next time. We are all human and we all make mistakes, it’s how we grow from them that makes us better. And make sure that you have fun.
You did some incredible work in Silicon Valley before coming to BTS… tell us about it!
I should write a book about some of the people I have met and worked with and continue to stay connected to. Incredible work, late nights, high pressured projects and challenging problems to solve, EVERY SINGLE DAY. I started out as a network engineer, straight out of the Army and rose to a Program Manager for projects that were worldwide. I even worked for a project that supported the State of California, where I briefed the Governor and his team for a statewide network upgrade. I was provided incredible opportunities to learn. I was there before there was a Google, so the learning came from our team and collaboration was vital to our successes.
What perspective or approach from the commercial space do you hope to employ at BTS? Avoid?
Don’t forget that people have legs and can/will leave if they are not appreciated. Money is not the only factor for people, but appreciation of the work and effort and acknowledgement is more important. The commercial world talks a good game until the stock market drops, then everyone is a number and that destroys any culture. We are seeing a bit of that again in the tech sector.
You’re a big advocate for expanding the cyber talent pool and ensuring that people have opportunities to get into this space who really want to. Tell us about your work in this area.
Back in the late 90’s it was all about taking anyone that could spell “IT” and teach them to be network engineers. The colleges were not able to keep up with the demand, so it was left to the employers and other types of learning. We are running into the same issue with regard to cyber. We are millions of positions short for cyber. Diversity in the field is also an issue. Education and opportunities need to be provided to all available sources. Look at me for example: I was a kid from Oregon. We only really knew about the timber industry. Thankfully the Army provided me with an amazing career. Education and opportunity are all that we need. We need to focus on getting the word out to everyone, in every part of our ecosystems, to provide the opportunities to get into an amazing field that affects each and every one of us.
What has you excited about BTS’ growth path for the future?
The leadership has the pedal to the floor on growth of the company, and not just because we want to grow, but because we believe in the mission, and we want to expand our ability to do great things for our customer.
What surprised you the most about coming to BTS?
What surprised me was the focus on ensuring everyone had what they needed to be successful in their role. David always goes around the room after meetings and asks the team if they have everything they need to succeed.
We heard you’re a big camper… are you a Glamper or a Camper? Favorite spot?
Okay, I admit, I am now a glamper. I have camped many years in a tent, all over the West Coast and Germany (while in the Army), and now I appreciate having my own shower and kitchen all set up and ready to go as soon as I pull in and plug in. With 2 teens, a dog, and lots of toys, it’s just easier. We love to go to Chincoteague, VA, but we honestly love to try different places and explore the areas. We have RV’d as far south as OBX, North as PA, West to Ohio and of course the lovely beaches of Delaware and Virginia. Thanks to my MOS in the Army, as 33T, I learned to drive a 5-ton truck with a tractor trailer. So, I do the driving.
How is working at BTS like going camping?
You better have your ruck sack ready! And like camping (successfully), you should be ready for anything. The ups and downs of government contracting can be a challenge, but if you are prepared and openly communicate, we can all have fun and enjoy the adventure.
Ok, lightning round!
- Career you wanted when you were a kid: NBA player (WNBA wasn’t there yet)
- Best TV series you’ve seen this year: Between work, glamping and keeping up with my teens, tv is only the sound that puts me to sleep.
- Your top go-to snack: Grapes! I love them fresh off the vine and frozen during the summer. Smashed and turned to wine are good too!
- Things you always have in your car: I sneeze like crazy in bright lights, which can be dangerous while driving!
- Favorite things to do. Gardening, photography, coaching basketball and volleyball and golfing. I am also a licensed paraglider and scuba diver.