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 Digital Network Analyst Joe Hughes, a member of the team with some wise words for the next generation and some top-notch home projects to show off from the COVID-19 quarantine.
What path brought you to BTS?
With 36-years spent as a DoD civilian, I initially started out as a computer scientist developing systems and deploying them around the world. Promotions led me into management and after many years as a manager I decided to go back and change careers to become an Analyst. I retired as an Analyst working primarily CT and, after a year or so, decided to come back by reapplying as a contractor. As a career government civilian, I found out my clearance information wasn’t readily available to contractors, a big problem for getting follow-up calls from recruiters. My BTS recruiter understood the problem and went above and beyond other company recruiters, and got it fixed. And the rest is history.
How has the culture at BTS stood out to you?
During this COVID-19 crisis, BTS has continued to support me even though I wasn’t being called in to work full time. That told me something about their leadership, that they take care of their people. To me, this is a company that has their priorities straight. I know they think of us as family, so they take care of their own and demonstrated this through their actions.
Tell us about a major lightbulb moment you had during your career
When I was in management I kept getting pushed farther up the ladder. Yet the further I got away from hands-on work, the less I felt I was accomplishing. Every organization needs good leaders, and many thought that I was a good manager; but for me, as you climb the ladder you focus more on personnel, budgets, and administration. I decided to “shoot my career in the foot” in order to really be happy rather than advance just for the sake of my career. That’s when I became an Analyst. Looking back, I was able to do a lot of great work over those final 12 years, and I have no regrets, it was the right decision for me.
What advice would you give to those just starting out in their careers?
My advice? I’d rather do a job I love rather than doing one that I don’t. A “labor of love” isn’t even working, really. It never feels like work. I want a job where I can make a difference, and that’s what motivates me. I’ve come across people who are mainly concerned with how much money they make and the status of their position. Don’t be one of those employees. If you enjoy your non-management work attempt to advance your career and salary doing so where practical. Others want to be leaders and know they will enjoy it. Every organization needs good leaders, so when you become a leader be the best leader you can be. I would tell those just starting out to really focus on doing what they enjoy. Take a job in this business because you want to make a difference. You want to make a difference for yourself, your family, and for your country.
Don’t be the young employee I had who said, “Joe, I’m going to leave.” I asked him why and he said, “Because it’s not like the movies.” He sat in an old building, amongst drabbing gray furniture using dated equipment. He wanted the glamor of the movies and we all know inside the walls, we aren’t glamorous. Take a job in our business motivated by the chance of making a difference. To serve a cause greater than yourself. I want to serve with those people.
How is the COVID-19 crisis impacting your day-to-day?
Well, I’m a little tired of sitting at home! I’m frustrated. You’re not in total control. I’m aware of the dangers of contracting COVID-19 and feel for the families who have lost loved ones. I feel bad for the businesses which have to close, because they can’t support the financial hit taken during these very unusual times. I’ve channeled the frustration into home improvement projects so that has been an unforeseen benefit. My wife and I created two new flower beds. Installed a ceiling fan in my screened in porch. Worked on our garage. Who knew you would want a fancy painted garage floor. (See below before/after)