Jennifer Chaggaris is the Vice President at Partner Forces. In this interview, while Managing Director of Partner Forces, she explains why she enjoys working for the company and what about its services and culture she thinks makes it uniquely appealing to clients and employees
“I love the variety in the work I do. On any given day, I’m involved in interviewing potential employees, producing client deliverables, and contributing to our corporate strategic plan. I love that my work is having a direct impact on our client’s mission and the future of our company.” – Jen Chaggaris, Managing Director
Q: What is your main role at Partner Forces?
A: I have been Managing Director for Partner Forces since October 2017. In this role, I lead Partner Forces’ business development and internal corporate initiatives. I also lead several national security-related projects for our federal government clients to support business process improvements, grants management, and strategic communications.
Q: What did you study in college or what previous work or other experiences prepared you for your role at Partner Forces?
A: I majored in political science and Spanish as an undergrad and have a Masters’ degree in Business Administration. To me, management consulting for the government is the perfect combination of my interests in public policy and business. I’m also a Certified Project Management Professional, which is a certification valued by many federal government clients.
Q: What about Partner Forces made you want to be part of the company? Is there anything about the culture that you think would be surprising to others?
A: Having worked previously for only large consulting firms, I was excited by the challenge to help grow a relatively new woman-owned small business. I appreciate the opportunity to lead business development and internal company operations. I think others would be surprised by how much our President, Jenny Stone, and other senior managers, like myself, are involved in client work, which is not only good for clients, but also gives junior staff the opportunity to learn by watching how we interact with clients and develop and assess work products.
Q: What do you like about your role?
A: I love the variety in the work I do. On any given day, I’m involved in interviewing potential employees, producing client deliverables, and contributing to our corporate strategic plan. I love that my work is having a direct impact on our client’s mission and the future of our company. Jenny has also given me the opportunity to take responsibility for projects that create unique learning opportunities, like preparing the application for our General Services Administration (GSA) contract vehicle.
Q: Why do you think clients decide to work with Partner Forces? Is there anything prospective clients should know about Partner Forces that you think would make them interested in hiring the company?
A: We’re unique because our senior leaders truly work directly with our clients every day in support of their missions. That really sets us apart. Our clients rely on our significant expertise in an array of key areas to support homeland and national security and policy. These include developing risk assessments and addressing security issues related to our nation’s elections, schools, transit, ports, and overall infrastructure.
Q: What about Partner Forces do you think would make a company interested in teaming with the company on a project or contract?
A: One of our corporate values is integrity. In teaming arrangements, to me that means being open and honest with potential and current teaming partners. We don’t play games. We find companies that we like and identify opportunities to work with them.
Q: What should potential employees know about Partner Forces that would make them interested in joining the company?
A: Working at Partner Forces gives you the opportunity to support our clients as they lead many of our nation’s most pressing homeland security initiatives. We look for employees who have a passion for public policy and a thirst for knowledge. Working for a small business allows employees the opportunity to expand their skill sets in internal company operations in a way that larger business cannot. Senior management also puts a lot of trust in employees and is willing to give them responsibilities that allow them to grow. And we have a collaborative and positive environment in which we all support each other in professional growth and development.
Q: What would you tell Partner Forces employees is the key to being successful in the company?
A: Flexibility and a passion for learning about our clients and supporting their missions. Flexibility is key because we must continuously adapt to changing client needs based on national security events, natural disasters, and organizational shifts. The passion for learning is critical because of the complex nature of the work of some of our clients. Each has their own set of terminology, ways of doing business, and organizational structure. If you are interested in learning, you will adapt to the new environments much more quickly.
Q: Most of your employees work on-site a at federal agencies. How do you make sure they feel connected with Partner Forces and are able to absorb, as well as represent, its culture and values?
A: We have quarterly company meetings that include occasional knowledge-sharing sessions with speakers relevant to our industry. The topics are often based on what the employees request. We also schedule happy hour get-togethers, particularly after the quarterly meetings, and occasional fitness outings where our group works out together.
Q: How do you expect Partner Forces will grow and evolve in the future?
A: We are actively broadening our base of federal clients by expanding into different agencies. Many of our areas of expertise, such as stakeholder communications, business process improvement, data analytics, and grants management and policy, are in demand throughout the government. We also plan to continue to expand our private-sector work in areas related to homeland and national security.