Our employee spotlight shines a light on one employee at a time. We value diversity and inclusion and welcome diverse thinking. It takes a village — through collaboration, living safely and driving innovation we realize our goals and help our clients achieve mission success. Our mantra is people first, mission always. In February, we’ll focus on Black History Month (BHM). We kick off the BHM series with this Q&A of Rob Smith, VP for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
How did you come to join Amentum?
I learned about the role at Amentum through a recruiter on LinkedIn. I was not necessarily looking for a new role at the time, but my interactions with everyone at Amentum really excited me about the role — especially after talking with John Vollmer and hearing of his passion for people.
What is your professional and personal background?
I served in the U. S. Coast Guard for 27 years, 360 days, and continued my service as a federal civilian for 2+ years. My Coast Guard specialty on the back half of my career was in the Human Resources/People Readiness field. My post-Coast Guard roles have been primarily in Talent Acquisition, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
How did your military service prepare you for a successful career at Amentum?
From day one, I learned a great deal about leadership, “Mission First, People Always.” I developed the business acumen and political savvy necessary to succeed in any role. And most importantly, I learned to manage change and develop resilience as many of my roles and responsibilities required me to be adaptable.
Describe the work you do and how you think it makes a positive impact.
I am the VP for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Amentum. In this role, I am charged with the development of policies and practices that directly influence the organizations climate and culture, as we work to maintain and enhance an inclusive workplace for all of team Amentum. As “Value our People” is a core value for the organization, having a role designed to do just this is critically important, and exciting.
What are some of your accomplishments and/or what has been your proudest career moment?
- Reaching the rank of Captain in the U. S. Coast Guard. I was the 26th African American to achieve this in the Coast Guard.
- Earning my Ph. D. in psychology.
- Demonstrating success in my various roles (e.g., leading the Coast Guard’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Campaign, leading the recruiting effort for the Coast Guard, and influencing DEI efforts in multiple organizations).
What do you enjoy about working for Amentum?
The teamwork environment. Everyone wants to chip in and do what is necessary to drive organizational success. And having a CEO that walks the talk.
What are you passionate about?
Leaving people better than I found them, one person at a time.
What’s your career advice?
“Make a plan, sets goals that execute your plan, or allow yourself to be a victim of someone else’s plan. It’s all in your power of choice.”
What does safety mean to you, or do you have a favorite safety tip?
Safety is everyone responsibility. A seemingly small risk can have significant impact on someone else’s health and well-being. It is everyone’s responsibility to act.
What’s the best invention in the world and why?
The hospital, and everything that goes into a hospital (e.g., equipment, doctors, surgeons, nurses, etc.). It hard to imagine a life/world without them. Even more during this season with the Covid-19 virus.
What does Black History Month mean to Rob Smith?
Black History Month represents an opportunity for all to learn of the many contributions that the African American race has made to “The World.” It is also a time to recognize the growth, advancement, and achievement of our race. I recall walking through an airport in uniform, as a Captain/O-6 in the U. S. Coast Guard, and an older black gentleman approached me and stated, “You Are the Dream.” He had tears in his eyes as he celebrated the opportunity, he had to see this dream come true. It moved me to tears, as I guess I did not fully appreciate what my accomplishments meant to others. Black History Month is a time to highlight to the older generation, what their sacrifice has made possible, while also demonstrating to the younger generation their potential for even greater achievement and contribution.
Anything else you would like to share from a personal or professional perspective?
Believe in the impossible — this enhances our ability to do the impossible. There are so many things that we take for granted today that were once perceived as impossible.