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 Business Development and Proposal Manager Destiny Ridguard and talk communications, viral videos, and travel.
You’ve had a variety of interesting careers moves from the Census Bureau to Financial Crimes Enforcement, AI and maritime object detection. What would you say is the common thread between all of those different roles?
The through thread between every role in my career is communication. Clear, concise, correct, and consistent communication. Communication is critical because no one wants to be misunderstood. The foundation of communication is literacy, reading and writing are fundamental. When I worked for nearly a decade as a federal contractor, I noticed agencies are looking for skilled personnel who can adapt quickly and anticipate needs. Every agency has their own culture, so learning that language is important. I try to get spun up fast so I can sink my heels in and get to work producing deliverables. No style guides? I’ve made one for the office I was working in. Having those standards summarized in one sheet is imperative, it lets stakeholders know that you understand the brand’s beliefs and can be a useful tool for a continuity file.
Tell us about your background in writing. Did you always see yourself doing something in writing/communications?
My background in writing points back to childhood and my early education. Some of my grade school projects, which I still have, include calendars and chapter books. My teachers always encouraged us students to share stories. I remember a specific class exercise, Current Events – where students were asked to present relevant news inside of a child-size box with a cut out, to mimic an anchor reporting the news on TV news. Preparing remarks and having something significant to say was important. My parents always encouraged me to be creative and curious, and at home and in school I was always surrounded by the materials I needed to read, write, draw, paint, and experiment with color. I vividly recall my 196 Crayola crayon box and three-level bookcase, with series like the Magic School Bus, the Bernstein Bears, American Girl, and the Boxcar Children. The Scholastic Book Fair was a seminal annual event where nothing was off limits, and the library was a favorite place to explore and study. My parents had a daily subscription to the Washington Post, which I devoured during mealtimes. If I was doing research for an assignment, I pulled the Encyclopedia Britannica off the shelf. I thoroughly enjoyed my Dad’s National Geographic, my mom’s Oprah, in addition to Black Enterprise and Jet. I was fascinated with magazines. My family was featured in the May 1996 Ebony.
In college, certain courses like Communication Design Fundamentals, Document Design, and Word Image Place piqued my interest in typography, page layout and content creation. A specific elective, Editing and Publishing was one class that filled up quickly, where students did the work that kept Carnegie Mellon University’s small press running. There is something about standing in a room stacked to the ceiling with wall-to-wall books that just brims with possibility.
You helped create an epic mannequin challenge for social media that got a million views- tell us about it!
This was a fun, of the moment video that really took off across all nine of the web and social media platforms I managed at the time. Working at the Pentagon for three years was an experience I will never forget. I flexed my omni channel marketing muscle, got some audio and video editing experience, and spent significant time in the Army TV studio and around Army Photographers and Public Affairs personnel. This role was my first opportunity for business travel outside of the National Capitol Region, being on post and seeing how military installations operate in other areas was eye opening. Talk about learning a new language and culture. Due to the number of acronyms that the services use, I had to create my own glossary. My former coworker served as our good idea fairy and camera operator, and the Chaplain Corps senior leadership were troopers for participating in this. I also make a quick cameo: Office of the Chief of Chaplains Mannequin Challenge Go Army Beat Navy – YouTube
What’s some wise advice you were given that really shaped your personal or professional path?
“A jack of all trades, masters none.” My advanced ceramics teacher Nandini Giridharadas said this in high school, and it will never escape my mind. She has taught ceramics for over 25 years, this commitment to her craft and dedication is truly admirable. Her advice helped me: define excellence and success, focus on my decisions and consider how they affect others, and realize how to specialize.
What’s a project that really stands out to you from some of your previous roles? Anything really crazy happen on one of your first days at work?
The projects that really stand out to me from my previous roles were the three publications I produced for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I worked on NOAA By the Numbers, NOAA’s Contribution to the Economy and the NOAA Business Brief. These documents worked my writing, editing, and design muscles and challenged me to think critically about the best and brightest information to present, and how to distill it for digestion by the largest possible audience. These documents are accessible on the NOAA website, I am proud to be published with a science-based agency. At any agency, contractors are brought on not only for budgetary reasons, but to execute special projects and implement innovative strategies, they are seen as industry subject matter experts (SMEs). NOAA is one of the few agencies that does not use the .ctr (Contractor) designation in their email system, a small detail, but an important one to me. While working at NOAA I felt like a true consultant, a trusted partner, where my input was requested, my opinions mattered, and my expertise was valued.
When you’re not slinging syllables and putting pen to paper, what are you up to?
You can find me cooking, dancing, singing, or volunteering. Music is cathartic, evocative, and I consider it true poetry. I listen to music daily, update multiple playlists, and find the lyricism about love in disco, funk, and soul among other genres a truly unique form of individual and human expression. I also make being in nature a regular part of my routine. I enjoy spending time with my immediate and extended family, they are hilarious and very special to me. I enjoy being active, and attend fitness and yoga classes. I also love to travel, particularly to warm water and weather, in view of the ocean.
I’ve also been Yelp Elite for 8 Years! I love food and beverage, it is always fun to try new restaurants and experiences.
What do you hope to bring to the BTS team this year?
Positive Energy! I strive to always be pleasant and polite in any workplace. BTS is a great company, and the senior leadership and corporate services team believes in me and my abilities, so I want to continue to show up for them.
- Favorite book (or top three): The Yssis Papers; The Weusi Alfabeti; Vernon Can Read!, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
- Favorite vacation spot: The beach! Aruba, Bermuda, Cayman Isles, Lime Key in Kingston JA, and Maui are the top five best!
- Snack you must have during a movie: Hot butter on my popcorn
- Quote that motivates you: Proverbs 11:14 KJV: “In the multitude of counselors purposes are established,” and, “You have to know that your real home is within.” – Quincy Jones