(Prompt: What is your proudest professional moment?)
I have to start this blog by saying that I’ve been fortunate enough during the past 4 ½ years with L-3 Communications to have experienced several proud professional moments. I’m going to pick two to write about tonight. When I get to the end, you’ll understand why I picked two.
When I look back at that day in May, 2006, when I received an email from Christi Gilbert with L-3 Communications, requesting an interview, I can’t help but smile. I sometimes wonder if Christi saw something special in me or if she was just desperate for help. Whatever the reason, she made me an offer. I quickly accepted and my life has not been the same since.
It is such a blessing to have a job that challenges me every day. It was because of those challenges that I was given an opportunity to excel and after only a year on the job, was nominated and selected as L-3 Communications Employee of the Month for October, 2007. My true reward for this accolade was not the plaque or the company mug or the small bonus check. My true reward was being recognized for the hard work and dedication I had put into my job. I had assumed a lot of duties that were not originally part of my normal job requirements, but I wanted to be a team player and put everything I had into being the best that I could be for my company. I’m a firm believer that, if in the public eye, my company shines, I shine and if I shine, my company shines.
When I found out that Christi had submitted the nomination for me, and that she had received endorsements from my peers, customers and vendors, I was so flattered. What more could an employee want from their boss? I gave everything I had to my job and I was honored for that. I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I was finally able to read the nomination and endorsements. Some of the people I respected the most had used words such as exemplary, professional, responsive and supportive to describe me. I was blown away. There were phrases like “her hard work makes my job as a subcontractor a lot easier,” “with all that she has to do, she will always do everything in her power to resolve my issues,“ and my personal favorite, “Lee rocks”. In her nomination statement, Christi said “She cheerfully and without complaint took on that responsibility and has successfully resolved many tough issues.” Who doesn’t want to hear her boss say things like that?
I will never be able to express the level of gratitude I have for Christi. She was my boss, my mentor, my biggest cheerleader, my confidant and my friend for 3 years. About a year and a half ago I had an opportunity to move into a different position, so even though Christi has not been my boss since mid-2009, she does continue to be all of those other things to me. She gave me a chance to take on a job that I had very little experience doing and helped guide me to be successful in a very short amount of time. I’ve often joked that I didn’t win Employee of the Month so much as Christi’s nomination and description of me won. Christi has been supportive and encouraging to me since the day I walked in the door at L-3 and I will never forget that.
A few months after being recognized as EOM, I had the amazing honor of being named the L-3 Employee of the Year. The announcement was made in a room full of people in Reston, Virginia, but the only person I remember seeing in that moment was Christi. She flew up there with me and stood beside me as the announcement was made and I’m honestly not sure which of us was more proud. I remember seeing the tears in her eyes through the tears in my eyes and thinking how blessed I was to have someone like her in my corner.