At Amentum, we celebrate our people, our cultures, and we recognize the value of diversity and inclusion. For February, we’ll reflect on what Black History Month means to all of us while shining a light on one employee at a time. Amentum’s final spotlight is a Q&A with Ava Steele, Business Manager, ES&T.
How did you come to join Amentum?
I joined Amentum via an academic counselor who worked at Jacksonville State University, where I earned my graduate and undergraduate degrees. After completing my undergraduate studies, I was approached and asked if I would be interested in working on a government contract that was scheduled for approximately 10 years. I was told the contractor was interested in developing local talent and was looking for an entry level accountant.
What is your professional and personal background?
My professional background includes working for Amentum and its legacy companies for 25 years. I’ve worked at three of the Chemical Demilitarization sites (Anniston, AL, Pueblo, CO and Richmond, KY). My personal background includes being a wife to an amazing husband, Charles, and proud mother of two children (Mya, 18, and Cameron, 14).
Describe the work you do and how you think it makes a positive impact.
The work I do for Amentum covers business management activities such as strategic budget planning, monthly financial forecasting and reporting; proposal review and approval; client invoice submittals; cash collections and days of sales outstanding (DSO) forecasting and monitoring. I also provide employee support for relocation, travel expense reports, retention incentives, electronic timesheet audits, and labor/floor check audits. I believe the work I do makes a positive impact to our employee workforce because it is our role to minimize administrative distractions so that employees can focus on the execution of work in the field. It is my goal is to provide accurate and timely feedback to employees who may need assistance whether it requires providing employees with an answer or providing employees with the contact information of a resource who can assist.
What are some of your accomplishments and/or what has been your proudest career moment?
One of the proudest moments in my career was winning the Performance Excellence/Lion Award in 2005. The award was received for successfully implementing a payroll integration.
What do you enjoy about working for Amentum?
I enjoy working for Amentum because we are working to fulfill a critical mission to destroy chemical weapons. This mission continues to be successful because of our skilled workforce and supportive management team. Completing the chemical weapon destruction mission is one that has made and continues to make a significant and positive impact on quality of life in multiple communities in and around the United States.
What are you passionate about?
In the workplace, I am passionate about being successful, passionate about learning and passionate about ensuring my employees are successful.
In my spare time, I am passionate about volunteering my time and resources to the community to provide financial literacy education to elementary and middle school students.
What’s your career advice?
My career advice is to seek to achieve a healthy work-life balance. A mentor gifted me with a leadership book that I have read and referred to many times, and has helped me achieve a healthy work-life balance. The book is written by Kevin Carroll and is titled “Rules of the Red Rubber Ball.” This book has an appearance of being elementary, but I viewed it as fun and includes a powerful message on how to “achieve maximum human potential through the power of passion and creativity.” This book has given me the innermost strength to be successful both at home and at work.
What does safety mean to you or do you have a favorite safety tip?
Safety means that I should perform my work activities in a manner that will ensure that I return home in the same manner, if not better, at the end of the day. My favorite safety tip is utilization of the Brother’s/Sister’s Keeper in that I promise to watch out for you and you watch out for me.
What’s the best invention in the world and why?
I believe the best invention in the world is the blood bank created by Dr. Charles Richard Drew. This invention had a recent impact on me personally which has given me a greater appreciation for its life saving benefits. A single donation of blood can save three lives. As a recipient, I am thankful for the inventor and for the donor(s).
Anything else you would like to share from a personal or professional perspective?
I joined the company because of its passion and interest in the employees who are hired to execute the mission; because of the annual requirement and company’s investment for employees to complete personal development activity; because of the opportunities for growth; because of the annual finance conference that allowed for collaboration with peers while requiring attendance from the project level management so that the message from the company’s president would be executed consistently; because of the skip level meetings and interest to receive feedback directly from employees in the field, and because of the frequently asked question “How can I help?” to support our needs.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is a time to reflect, educate and celebrate. As we hear and read of the accomplishments of others, we should use that knowledge as motivation to engage. Ask yourself “what have I done or what can I do to impact the lives of others.” I was recently approached by a high school student who screamed my name and came running toward me with open arms to welcome a hug. At first, I did not recognize this young lady, but she held me tight and asked me if I remembered her. I was embarrassed to respond but because she was so excited, she didn’t give me a chance to respond. She told me she was in my 6th grade financial literacy class and told me she was graduating high school this year. The 6th grade class I taught that year was my first literacy class in Kentucky so you can imagine how I felt knowing that she remembered me six years later. We talked about life after high school. She mentioned that no one in her family had ever mentioned college so she never viewed college was an option but during our financial literacy class she remembered me talking about options after high school to include trade school/technical school. She stated that my class gave her hope for life after high school and that her future includes attending the local community/technical college with the career path of a first responder. Her story has motivated me to continue reaching out to our young people to give them hope and inspiration.