On even ground
Female leaders are mission critical at Patriot Group International
Marlana Fraser joined Warrenton-based Patriot Group International Inc. (PGI) with a special insight into the people on the ground carrying out PGI’s special operations.
Her husband had served in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan performing the “exact same work” that PGI does now, says Fraser, the company’s vice president of business operations. As a contractor offering support to intelligence, defense and private sector clients, PGI’s missions can often involve sensitive and confidential information — and high-risk work.
“I have a heartstring based off of my own experience,” Fraser says. “That’s also reversed. There’s many times when I have to be a little bit more firm in our decision making.”
Fraser attributes her success at the company to respect that is both earned and expected from PGI leadership. An open-door policy, frequent “pulse checks” on career progression and feedback from employees fuels a mission-driven and respectful culture, she says.
“One of our main focuses is respect,” Fraser says. “In terms of being a female in the leadership team, respect is earned and demanded just based off of our business as a whole.”
Not only did Fraser step into an important position with the company, but she also earned her place at the top of a male-dominated industry. The military special operations community is upward of 99% male, says PGI CEO Greg Craddock, who served as an Army ranger and special operations forces noncommissioned officer (NCO) before 9/11. He later worked in the intelligence community and was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq to support the U.S. wars in the early 2000s.
Michelle Quinn, PGI’s senior vice president of growth, recognizes that the industry is male-dominated, with intelligence and defense contractors often seeking out personnel with military backgrounds who are accustomed to “often high-threat, high-risk” work in dangerous places.
But that doesn’t stop her from having her voice heard.
“[In meetings] I am often at a table where I am the only woman, but for our senior leaders, they wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says. “And they’re not putting us there because we’re women. They’re putting us there because they really believe in our intellect, our work ethic, our integrity.”
Christy Beach, PGI’s senior vice president of contracts and business administration, has worked in government contracting for 20 years (the past eight spent with PGI), and echoes that a respectful mentality makes PGI a unique work environment for the industry.
“I’ve been given a lot of opportunities for advancement,” Beach says, and PGI’s leaders go “out of their way to meet up with and get to know all of the employees.”
Women in leadership at PGI also help bring a focus on supporting the families of employees, Craddock says, a factor that sometimes gets overlooked in mission-oriented work.
“We’re very blessed and lucky to have the kind of staff we do from an overall perspective,” Craddock says. “But given the years of experience that each one of these seasoned professionals bring to our company, we’re extraordinarily lucky to have that. It’s something we don’t take for granted.”
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