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 Director of MPO Operations Doug Himes and talk about marathons, cycling, the road to BTS and whether it’s morally wrong to dislike crabs as a Marylander.
You joined BTS in the last few years but apparently, it’s been a move about 15 years in the making? Can you tell us about that?
Yes, my BTS story begins when I was in the middle east and bumped into one Col David Tohn. We worked together on some intel activities and got each other out of some tight spots during that time. That was the start of our relationship. We have kept in touch ever since and through a variety of roles I joined him after he retired from active duty at a company in Baltimore and then later was asked to join BTS. I remember that moment clearly because I received a sat phone call from David while he was in the middle of the ocean somewhere off the coast of Australia. He asked me if I wanted a new challenge and to see if I’d join BTS. The rest is history and today I’m focused on supporting our Maryland customer including working with the recruiting team, program support, prep for proposal support and growth, and new work/teaming opportunities.
You’re relatively new to the marathon scene but apparently are crushing it! Tell us how you got into running marathons
I had this crazy idea that I would run a marathon when I turned 50. Sure enough, I trained and completed my first marathon right around my 50th birthday. I’m really proud of my time as well of 4 hours and 12 minutes (not bad for my first!) I ran a few oversees marathons in the middle east after that. One memorable marathon was when we had to run it entirely in a 1.2 mile loop because of security. So, we did that loop 24+ times to hit the distance. Not your usual race.
But you’re also into cycling, right?
I really like to ride my bike, yes. I do some charity rides but also just enjoy getting out and seeing the scenery.
What would you say are some similarities between running a marathon and growing a people-focused government contracting firm?
Well, for one, persistence is required. I always liked the quote from Calvin Coolidge, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence….” Of course, with persistence comes patience, something I can truly say is still a work in progress with me after these many years. Finally, there is a huge sense of satisfaction when you cross that finish line, deliver the proposal, or provide the Government with some much-needed support.
What are some “mega trends” you’ve seen in this space over the last few years?
I think there are really 2 big things happening here. One is around the shifting expectations of the workforce. Candidates are asking, “How can this company best support the needs of me and my family?” Along with that comes an increase in the pace of change with employers. People aren’t staying with a company for 10+ years anymore, they’re changing jobs much more frequently. For us, we have to be ready to provide a great work environment for them and a stable corporate environment to support candidates who may not stay as long as they used to- and that’s ok.
The other mega shift occurring right now in our space is around the demand for remote work and how the work in the IC supports that expectation. This is really something that’s part of a bigger conversation across our industry, but only compounded by the COVID remote work increase and by the fact that non-IC technical talent is simply used to it- especially large tech talent that may be outside of the MD corridor. To me however, even if the pace of change with remote work is slow, culture and support is what makes all the difference with our staff.
Can you share a story of how you saw BTS’ people-focused approach in action?
Yes, we had a time when we had 2 candidates looking to join. However, they each had some specific requests and challenges on how to make joining BTS work based on their current situations. We were able to quickly get with Dan Cummings (close chain of command), get the questions answered, and come to a decision that worked for everyone. That lean process benefited the candidate, kept the firm on track, and… both people joined our team just recently.
There is also the great example of BTS’ support for the globally dispersed workforce (and their families) during the early 2020 COVID crisis. BTS staff members were stranded in locations all over with little ability to travel to their destinations and with very uneven information. BTS stepped up its communication, engagement, and support for everyone, provided continuing health coverage, continued salary, and support for the separated families for many weeks until each case was resolved.
You’ve mentioned that David is very involved in the day-to-day.
Absolutely, especially throughout the recruiting cycle. He meets with the candidates, talks to them about culture, shares insight about our opportunities. It’s very hands-on and I know that he has traveled to send off our downrange folks before they deployed as well.
How would you describe BTS approach in a few words or phrases?
Small. Focused. Agile. Strong chain of command. Fast decisions.
What is something people surprised to find out about you?
That I have run 6 or 7 marathons. Also, that we have 5 grandkids (with another on the way).
What’s your top go-to location to escape?
The beach. It’s an escape for us but also for our extended family to just come and get away (pic below).
You’re a Maryland native so, is it morally wrong to not like crabs if you’re from here?
Well, for me I’m a 50/50 split between the social part and the culinary part of eating crabs. So, I’m in the crab-positive category for sure. I do have a nephew though that won’t touch them!
If you couldn’t do what you’re doing now, what else would you want to try?
I think I’d enjoy being a teacher. I’d probably focus on elementary school before the kids got too much knowledge (and maybe attitude). I’d want to alleviate their fears of math for example- I see that as very satisfying, helping with country’s STEM challenges.