At Amentum, we celebrate our people, our cultures, and we recognize the value of diversity and inclusion. In May, we’ll focus on Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month while shining a light on one employee at a time. Today’s Q&A is with Ruth Reid Capture Manager, Engineering, Science, & Technology.
How did you come to join Amentum?
I joined Amentum through the acquisition of PAE.
What is your professional and personal background?
I am a native to the Northern Virginia area and have lived here my entire life. I’m blessed with the most amazing husband, Jonathan, who I’ve known for nearly 20 years, and the fluffiest fur baby ever, Beau (Chow Chow).
I have a Bachelor of Science degree from George Mason University, with a major in Biochemistry and minor in Forensic Science. My goal was to work for the Federal Government performing synthetic drug analysis.
I started my employment with PAE in 2013 as a part-time General Clerk supporting Dept of Justice (DOJ) and Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) contracts, while I was attending George Mason. Little did I know, my part-time job with PAE would lead me down a completely different career path than the one I had planned .
Describe the work you do and how you think it makes a positive impact.
I currently lead capture efforts under Amentum’s Engineering, Science & Technology business group. The work that I perform highlights Amentum’s demonstrated strengths and capabilities in the realm of full lifecycle Engineering and Management support. It is my job to help Amentum win Federal Government contracts and assist the end-customer in meeting their critical mission goals that safeguard our nation and its people.
What are some of your accomplishments and/or what has been your proudest career moment?
My proudest career moment was taking the leap of faith to join the Capture Team. I had been on the operations side of the house when there was a need for a task order (TO) lead to support TO capture efforts for a $1.1B DOJ Multiple-Award IDIQ. I did not have a business development/capture background, had never taken a business course throughout my college career, and had no experience leading capture efforts. However, the Director of BD at the time saw potential, and was willing to offer me the job and mentor me in my new role. I was terrified of accepting the position and failing in my new role. However, I went with my gut, pushed my fear of failing aside, and am so glad I did! I love doing capture!
What do you enjoy about working for Amentum?
The people. Everyone I’ve worked with at Amentum has been so supportive and helpful. The culture leadership has fostered makes me feel it’s okay to ask questions, it’s okay to not have all the answers and it’s okay to make mistakes because that’s how you learn. I am so appreciative of all the people I work with and cannot imagine working in a more supportive environment.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about being fearless of failure. When you are afraid of failing, it prevents you from taking chances that can change your entire trajectory, whether it be personally or professionally. When fear of failing prevents you from taking a chance, you’re limiting your ability to achieve your goals. Don’t let your fear limit your capabilities. The sky should be your limit, and you should strive to seek your highest potential.
What’s your career advice?
Don’t settle for what you think you can achieve. Sometimes, the plans you have for yourself aren’t the only ones out there. Allow for the ability to explore all your strength and potentials, and you’d be surprised at how much you can achieve. Additionally, make sure you’re passionate about your career — you cannot be successful at something if your heart isn’t in it.
What does safety mean to you or do you have a favorite safety tip?
My favorite safety tip is to understand and maintain a strong work/life balance. It’s difficult to juggle daily personal and professional demands, and there are days where you feel your stress level is through the roof. I personally have been there. It’s critical to take a step back and recognize the negative impacts increased stress can have on your physical and mental health. Try to take breaks (even small ones), to give yourself a few minutes to recharge. Create To-Do lists, prioritize your time, and lastly, unplug from technology. Our electronic devices can be used to make our lives more convenient. But with constant emails, social media blasts, and buzzing notifications, they are more likely to contribute to our feelings of stress and overwhelm. Set aside specific times when you can turn your phone to airplane mode and immerse yourself in something enjoyable, like spending time with family and friends.
What’s the best invention in the world and why?
Hands down, the internet. The internet is used by billions of people across the world. We use the internet to do virtually everything these days – from online education, remote working & collaboration, streaming music, movies and tv shows, to shopping, paying bills, and ordering pizza. The internet is also responsible for helping my mother reunite with her biological father after 32 years.
What does Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?
I am proud to be a first-generation Vietnamese-American born in the U.S., therefore AAPIH Month is a very personal time for me and possesses great significance. Growing up, I heard endless stories from my paternal great-grandparents, grandparents, and father regarding their life after the fall of Saigon in 1975, and the difficult decision to flee their homeland in 1979 on a rowboat in the middle of night, with nothing but hope for a better future. After spending a week traveling through the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea, my paternal family ended up at a refugee camp in Malaysia, before settling down in Arlington, VA in 1980.
Arriving in a foreign country with nothing but the clothes on their back, my dad’s family relied heavily on church sponsors to assist with clothing, food, and adapting to the new culture. My mother, on the other hand, was a GI baby, and was bullied throughout her life in Vietnam for being born out of wedlock. Her family was treated differently, and food was disproportionately rationed to them because of their connection with the U.S. To rid Vietnam of all American-Asian children, my mother and her family was offered an opportunity to leave the country in 1985. My mother and grandmother boarded a flight to a refugee camp in the Philippines.
After several months, they settled down in Hyattsville, MD. Although my parents’ journeys are quite different, they both had to flee their native homeland, and resettle in a country while not knowing the language and having to adapt to a completely new culture.
It’s important for me to share my family’s story this AAPIH Month because their journey helped mold the person I am today. I’ve developed perseverance, strength, and endurance. I’ve learned that when things get difficult, giving up is not an option. My family has endured so much in their journey to give me the wonderful life I have today.