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Kasey Ortoski | Contract Operations Manager | Jacobs

Kasey Ortoski: A Consistent Learner to Passionate Leader

“One of the true tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” – Arnold Glasow

Some leaders are assigned to lead, and some leaders were born to take charge. Kasey Ortoski is one of them. A leader passionate about strategic planning and leadership builds a competent, capable, and commanding team in their work.

Kasey’s result-oriented approach has paid high dividends, making her an expert in project management with extensive experience and demonstrated success in delivering multiple, high-value technical projects within a predefined time without compromising on the quality, scope, and budget.

Speaking of her educational achievements, Kasey has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Tampa. Additionally, she is obtaining a Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership, with a research topic including Agile Software Development teams and work environment configurations.

As the Contract Operations Manager for Jacobs, Kasey looks over the processes of managing schedulers, managing risk, and ensuring quality assurance across the line. Due to her varied experience and in-depth expertise in the subject, she makes project management easy and seamless for everyone involved.

We got to talk to her about her vast areas of interest through an insightful interview.

Below are the highlights:

Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at Jacobs. What challenges you had to overcome to reach where you are today?

Today, I am the Contract Operations Manager. My past is unique; I have had to overcome several difficulties to be where I am today. As a nontraditional hire, I do not look like most other technologists funneled into the defense contracting population. I have owned businesses, taught children, mentored youths and young adults, consulted higher education establishments, worked in sales, and much more. I have been leading people since the day I turned 18 when I became the youngest manager of CiCi’s Pizza nationally, as I was promoted to store manager.

My background is rich in crucible experiences that do not translate easily to a resume or work experience. I went back to school after I had stepped back from owning my business and decided the classroom was not where I belonged. Attending The University of Tampa’s Executive Master of Business Administration program would prove to be one of the most pivotal decisions of my life. I met some of the most incredible individuals. Of those individuals, one person, in particular, was life changing. The person took a chance on me and recommended me to be part of his team at Jacobs. This would prove to be life-altering.

Working in Defense Technology was a whole new world for me, but it allowed me to excel because I was so different from my peers. I brought new ideas and a fresh attitude to the teams I managed. I have had several promotions since starting with Jacobs and continue to work on my personal growth. Right after I started at Jacobs, I embarked on my Doctor of Philosophy degree. It is wonderful to work for a company that supports my education by both helping fund my tuition and being flexible with my schedule so I can travel to Los Angeles, California for a class as needed.

My program at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology is incredibly applicable to my work at Jacobs. I chose this school as all curriculum has a foundation in psychology, so my Organizational Leadership program is teaching me a great deal about the psychology of people and organizations.

Tell us something more about your company and its mission and vision.

Jacobs Engineering is an incredibly inclusive company with a great culture – they take care of their people. Jacobs does not accept what is as it is; we challenge the accepted and strive to innovate and advance society.

At Jacobs, we make the world smarter, more connected, and more sustainable.

Together, we’re pushing the limits of what’s possible. We stay ahead to create new standards for our future needs. Challenging today is our response to the increasing complexity our world is experiencing.

It calls on us to join forces, putting our knowledge and imagination together to reinvent the way we solve problems and shape the next generation of innovative solutions. Reinventing tomorrow is our promise and an invitation to raise the bar in everything we do.

From the brilliant solutions we create with our clients to the open and inclusive culture we create for our people. From the positive difference we make in our communities to the added value we deliver to our shareholders.

“Together, we are building a new Jacobs, inclusive of diverse people, capabilities, and perspectives. We are winning in the marketplace, capturing attractive growth opportunities for complex work we are uniquely positioned to perform.” – Steve Demetriou, Chair and CEO

Enlighten us on how you have made an impact in the Information Technology niche through your expertise in the market.

I have a unique advantage in my market because I bring a very different, people-focused perspective to the teams I serve. My background has given me the skills to be an excellent communicator, learn virtually anything rapidly, and make decisions in an emotionally intelligent manner while also keeping larger organizational goals in mind. The technology market is everchanging, and my advantages help me better support people as they operate in the technology sector.

Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.

Our culture is incredibly diverse and inclusive while striving to ensure equity. We challenge what is and envision what can be while supporting and enriching our people in the workplace and beyond. We have 8 employee networks that foster a culture of caring. The groups are centered around offering employees an opportunity to collaborate with others around the world who share similar interests and explore opportunities that relate to their specific goals.

Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?

We have a great opportunity to innovate and improve our legacy systems. Our current endeavors include leveraging the benefits of cloud technology and implementing automation in any possible area. We are also modernizing our infrastructure to ensure we remain competitive.

If given a chance, what change would you like to bring to the Cyber security industry?

I would like to reexamine the Authority to Operate (ATO) process within the Defense community- as we begin to employ emergent technologies such as cloud computing, we need to assess the way we examine environments when granting ATOs. We cannot Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) ourselves to death and make it, so no new technologies get the chance to make it to our warfighters.

What, according to you, could be the next big change in Scientific Research & Testing industry? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?

Space presents endless opportunities for exploration and innovation. Jacobs’ new strategy places a heavy emphasis on Space technologies, exploration, and innovation. We are currently working with NASA to create engineering solutions to support the Space Launch System and space flight projects, providing science and engineering support to a space station, Orion and life support, and robotics systems, as well as Launch control system development and payload processing.

Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for Jacobs?

People are my passion, and technology is something that I want to be part of – I am working hard to become a people leader within our company so I can have the opportunity to bring light to and improve the environment for large groups of people. The higher I climb, the more opportunity I have to create positive change.

What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the IT sector?

Information technology is not only for geniuses – it is for everyone! Start by identifying whatever interests you in the realm and identify certifications that will get you the credentials needed for entry-level opportunities. Once you have your foot in the door, look around and see who is successful – talk to that person, become their mentee, and learn as much as you can! Do not be afraid to volunteer for extra work that serves as a learning opportunity, and it is always ok to ask questions.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke