Kristina Johnson hasn’t been at Advance Technology Inc., for long, but she’s managed to make a big impact.
That comes as no surprise to president Rob Simopoulos who recalls that while interviewing Johnson he asked her, humorously, where she wanted to be when she grows up. Her response: “Where you’re sitting.”
Once on board she was given an important task.
Simopoulos “challenged me to bring in young people,” Johnson says, with a focus on finding talent just out of college or before they’d been trained in the ways of another integrator. The program, launched at the end of August with two interns, one in the finance department and one in design engineering.
Each intern must spend 144 hours learning the ATI way. The finance intern secured a job at Fidelity, while the engineering intern is a college junior who will return to ATI next year. There could be as many as seven interns in seven departments as the program grows.
“Having an outside perspective, someone asking questions about why we do what we do, the way we do it, can make our processes better,” says Johnson. “Sometimes companies can get stuck in a rut.”
Why ATI Customers Get Gift Baskets
Among the ways ATI tries to differentiate itself from its competitors is by sending a custom gift basket to customers the day they sign a deal. Johnson is responsible for putting the baskets together and she includes perishables such as chocolate-covered almonds and other goodies for a group to enjoy.
Years with the Company: 1 (started as customer satisfaction specialist)
Education: B.A. in Marketing and Leadership, University of New Hampshire, Manchester (2013); Associate of Applied Science and Criminal Justice, Community College of the Air Force (2013); Certified Instructor, tactical automated sensor systems, Lackland Air Force Base (2010)
“It triggers a conversation and that’s what we want,” she says. “We want to get people talking about it and spread the wealth. The majority of our customers aren’t spending their own money but they’re being charged to make the best decisions. We want them to be as excited about the installation as we are, but we know that installation won’t start right after we sign the deal.”
Military Experiences Help in AV, Vice Versa
In addition to her work at ATI, Johnson has served as a Security Forces Squad Leader in the U.S. Air Force and N.H. Air National Guard since July 2007. That includes 4.5 years in active duty at Camp Bucca in Iraq (2008-09) Joint Base Balad in Iraq (2009-10) and Eskan Village in Saudi Arabia (2011-12).
During that time she led, managed and supervised “force protection duties, including use of deadly force to protect personnel and resources.”
That experience has “made me very driven and not want to stay stagnant,” says Johnson. It’s also helped to develop her interpersonal skills, communication and leadership abilities, she says.
In addition, her security expertise gives her “a common ground” with facility managers and security directors and “a way to build trust” with them, which perhaps opens doors for ATI to find new customers and new work.
ATI president Rob Simopoulos on Johnson…
“I’ve interviewed many people in my career and whether you are in early career or late career one of my favorite questions I ask is, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ It’s a humorous question and most people laugh and then try to come up with a great answer.
“Kristina was the first interviewee to answer the question poignantly by pointing at me and stating that she wanted my job … it was exactly the same answer I gave one of my great mentors, Paul Nickel, when I was 19 years old.”
Johnson has helped ATI build its social media presence, especially on Twitter, says Simopoulos.
“I remember after month of tasking her, I jumped in to the accounts to see how she was doing. I was blown away. Our followers had spiked and our website visits were increasing dramatically. Boy, I felt good and knew that I didn’t need to worry about that anymore.”