On July 28th, EC’s Larry McDowell, Deputy Program Manager & Production Control Officer for the DID (Defense Intelligence Digest) publication, kicked-off the first Tradecraft Thursday presentation at the Evans & Chambers DC office. Several members from across EC were in attendance to learn and discuss the topic.
Larry’s presentation, titled “Best Practices in Writing for Executive Decision Makers,” centered on the best practices when developing intelligence assessments that will be read by government officials, military officers, and other decision makers in the federal government. While his lecture was full of instruction on how to appropriately package an intelligence article, Larry reaffirmed the ultimate purpose behind the articles and decision makers’ desires for them: “We’re about warfighting…defense intelligence. They want to be able to get an edge.” He explained that the key components to a great piece include: knowing one’s audience and their interests, concise and short statements with specific, appropriate language for the audience, a rational structure, and a clear understanding of the reason for the piece’s creation.
Tradecraft Thursdays are a new internal event series that represent EC’s ever-expanding educational offerings to its employees with the intent that they may be enriched by their colleague’s experience and thus prepared to tackle the many challenges in IT security. Future presentations will aim to cover a broader range of professional topics outside of programming and information technology (that which are covered in EC’s Tech Talks) to allow for more diverse content sharing among the non-technologically focused members at EC.
At Evans & Chambers, we don’t only hire incredible talent, we actively encourage and support all employees in their path to self-improvement and certification. With the growing partnership and increased usage of AWS (Amazon Web Services) within EC and our customers, we thought what better way to improve ourselves than to get a few more AWS certifications among our staff.
The first EC AWS Certification Challenge pushed several employees to study hard to receive one of the five AWS certifications in just over 2 months. In addition to the EC bonus for AWS certifications, each person that was successful in earning a certification would be entered for a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to AWS re:Invent 2017 in Las Vegas, NV. Re:Invent is a fantastic conference that is focused on all things AWS from learning more about AWS offerings and partners to networking and fun. A trip to re:Invent is a great way to celebrate becoming certified and sharpen additional cloud skills.
The challenge participants were each given a learning path guide along with a copy of the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Official Study Guide to start their journey. Throughout the 2 months, participants could communicate within the #awscertchallenge channel on Slack about questions and certifications topics giving them support so they wouldn’t have to study alone. The challenge study period was wrapped up with a study session at Founding Farmers in Tysons Corner, VA. With one of the five attendees already certified, we were able to not only discuss the advantages of leveraging AWS cloud services, but also what to expect for the exam and how to prepare while sipping a few drinks and enjoying delicious food.
I am pleased to announce that Phil Bozek received not one, but two AWS Certifications and is the official winner of the EC AWS Cert Challenge! Congratulations to Phil for receiving his AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate and AWS Certified Developer – Associate certifications.
Thank you to everyone who participated! Even though the certification challenge is over now, EC still has a few people planning to study and receive AWS certifications in the near future and I wish you all the best of luck in achieving your goals.
On Saturday June 10th, Evans & Chambers participated in the annual Tough Mudder event in northern Virginia for the third year in a row. The Tough Mudder Mud Runs are team-centered endurance events that challenge one’s grit through a 10 mile course including over 20 arduous obstacles and, of course, loads of mud. This year Team EC ran 10 and a half miles and faced 21 obstacles all the while enduring the scorching 95 degree weather. Nonetheless, Team EC completed the event in slightly over four hours and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
EC’s Robert Chapell, who had captained the EC Tough Mudder Team for the last three years, says this about the event:
“[The Tough Mudder] is not a race but rather it is a challenge that requires teamwork in order to successfully complete the course. There are many ways that the event builds teamwork. Besides the obvious of working together to successfully negotiate obstacles, teammates lean on each other for support, motivation and inspiration throughout the course… When your fuel tank is empty and you feel like you can’t go on, we inspire and motivate each other to keep going. There are also challenges along the way which allow people to safely conquer their fears and set new personal bests … Participating in the Tough Mudder is a great way to work together as a team, to get to know each other, to set and achieve personal goals, and to challenge yourself all while having fun and getting a little dirty.”
Each year, the participants have enjoyed the experience, citing the team-building and camaraderie aspects as highlights. EC Business Analyst and first-time participant Phylicia Phillips remarked about her debut as a Tough Mudder:
“As a first time participant of the Tough Mudder, I think it went great! It was definitely a challenge but the team stuck together, stayed motivated and pushed through every obstacle… I did not know what to expect, but with some motivation from the team, I came out feeling stronger and more confident. The team is what made the Tough Mudder memorable…”
Others, nicknamed “Legionnaires,” had so much fun that they have returned for subsequent events.
With another muddy race under its belt, the EC Tough Mudder team will assuredly return to rule the day and bring each other closer to excellence in 2018.
On Saturday, June 17th, a team of Evans & Chambers employees and friends of EC headed by EC’s Samantha Hess participated in the Relay for Life Beltway event in Falls Church, VA. Relay for Life is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society that occurs across the world. Each event celebrates survivors, remembers those lost to the disease and spreads the message of hope: hope for a cure, hope for a world eradicated of cancer, hope for for more birthdays, hope for life.
Team EC gathered around 11am to decorate the team campsite in a Mexican theme completed with bright colored tissue paper flowers, blankets, pillows, and pool noodles. In front of the tent was a bright and colorful “jail” for our “jail ‘n bail” fundraiser in addition to a memorial wall where people could post a note in memory or in honor of loved ones.
While unfortunately there were some challenges due to weather (for instance, the wind was a terror to the campsite), but the team pressed on with the event. The memorial wall down sized a bit after the wind battering, but remained throughout the event with some beautiful artwork added (beside the memorial notes) from the children at the neighboring “VA Ninjas” tent. After all, the Relay For Life is all about the spirit of perseverance and overcoming hardships.
The children that attended the Relay were a bright spot in a day that was difficult for so many. They brought light and life to the event and spent nearly the entire day at the EC tent brightening Team EC’s day as well. The children weren’t the only people to find a home with Team EC. Katherine, a very kind teacher passionate about Relay, joined the group at the beginning of the event and stayed through till the end. Katherine shared her experiences with the team and looks forward to seeing Team EC representing again next year.
While the event as a whole was smaller than past years’, the team managed to raise $105 from on-site donations for the memorial wall, as well as babysitting money from one of the moms at the VA Ninjas tent (the Relay encourages all forms of innovative fundraising). In total, Team EC has raised $2,030 from multiple sources to be donated to the American Cancer Society and their continuing search for a cure. While the event has concluded, there is still time to donate to the team and make a difference (donations will be collected through August): Donate using this link: http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?fr_id=83307&pg=team&team_id=2190094
Special thanks to the following people for their support at the event:
EC’s Stephanie Tevenal and Deanna Hess who worked tirelessly to help set up the campsite and get things started for the day. The campsite wouldn’t have looked as amazing as it did without their help.
EC’s Pat Miller for donating water and assisting in the campsite setup while his lovely wife, Rose, represented the team on the track.
EC’s Jamil Evans who arriver later in the afternoon to support the team, share some pictures on social media and walk a few laps.
Friend of EC and father to Samantha, Dan Hess, who multiple sources say was the hardest working person at the entire event. Dan was there with the team from initial setup around 10:45am till the last piece was carried to the car around 11:20pm. He saved the campsite from flipping due to wind and generally did anything and everything he could to make this event as successful as it could be. Dan certainly earned much praise for all of his effort the day before Father’s Day.
Thanks again to all of the individual donors whose donations are greatly appreciated and are going to a great cause, and special thanks to Samantha Hess for all of her work organizing the event and coordinating multiple efforts at once as Team Captain. Evans & Chambers Technology was proud to support the team as part of EC Cares and hopes this event will be an annual event for the company moving forward (with even higher goals to reach).
While EC’s first year at the Relay had a solid inaugural group, we hope next year will have even more participation and donations. If you would like to help continue EC’s effort with this year’s Relay For Life, please consider making a donation.
On March 2nd, 2017 Evans & Chambers Technology held its second bi-annual Board of Advisors meeting at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC. Following the inauguration of the EC Board of Advisors in 2015, the Board meets every six months to discuss matters related to the organization, ranging from strategy to cautionary advice as directed by each Board member’s unique experience.
This past meeting was a great kickoff to 2017 as several topics of discussion were brought to the table aimed to focus on the upcoming year for Evans & Chambers. After a recap of 2016, the Board and several members of EC’s leadership team widely discussed multiple points of improvement and focus for the company over the coming year: how to bring more value to our customers, how to better attract the best talent around, how to promote our capabilities in the best light possible, and how to align EC’s mission with that of the mission of the Federal Government and the services they depend on.
Following the meeting several Evans & Chambers program and project managers met with the Board of Advisors over lunch to discuss the services they are providing for the organization or their client as well as expectations for 2017.
On December 17th Evans & Chambers hosted it’s annual Holiday Party at the Gordon Biersch Navy Yard in Washington, DC. The event marked the perfect occasion for tying off all of the past efforts and successes of 2016, and to toast a glass to the upcoming 2017.
The event laid host to many members of EC, as well as partners and friends to the company. When guests were not catching up with coworkers or having another signature Gordon Biersch beer, they were tearing up the dance floor thanks to the energy of DJ Luccio.
Throughout the night several holiday gift raffles were conducted and folks were able to walk away with some great prizes, like a Samsung 50″ TV, a Xbox One console bundle or a $500 gift certificate to the Ritz-Carlton. All in all the event was largely enjoyed by all (including the excellent Gordon Biersch staff who joined in on the dancing).
Happy Holidays from all of us at Evans & Chambers Technology and to a joyous and successful New Year!
In conjunction with EC’s goal to continually improve at all levels of the enterprise, we have kicked off the CMMI Development Level 3 effort. CMMI is different from ISO in that CMMI focuses on the project management and software development levels of our services; whereas ISO focuses on core corporate processes. We kicked off the effort in June with a Gap Analysis to determine where we currently stand as it relates to the CMMI and to create a plan to meet this development standard. EC will develop processes according to the standards that fulfill the CMMI Level 3 expectations and will implement the processes on a development project.
EC executives have selected NTIR (Non-Traditional Intelligence Repository), ISI SecurityControl and SEMT as the first projects to implement the new process as they are being developed. EC plans to have the CMMI Level 3 certification completed by May 2017.
Three EC managers–Larry McDowell, Sophia Magloire and Joshua Ortiz–have successfully completed several courses as part of EC’s 2016 Spring Cohort. Using the methodology of “Level 5 Leadership” as a framework, EC is able to support employees’ career development goals and provide a path to leadership within the organization. These series of training programs offered are designed to support the knowledge, skills, and abilities at each level of an EC employee’s career along with the qualities EC employees need to support their customer-facing efforts.
Employees interested in pursuing a leadership position within EC are able to use this training to gain more leadership capabilities and provide better professional services to their clients. EC hopes to see more managers pursue this path to increase their overall professional offering.
Evans & Chambers expresses its sincerest gratitude and congratulations to Deanna Hess for her commitment to our mission for the last 5 years!
Being the face of our human resources department, Deanna has been an essential figure in our core operations by constructing EC’s talent acquisition searches, career management, benefits and compensation analysis, and payroll management. Deanna is the Under Deanna’s leadership, EC has brokered deals with numerous vendors to secure benefits that support employee career development, healthy living, wealth development, and wealth preservation. She also serves her fellow EC Team members through being the watchdog of our company culture and the gauge of employee sentiment. The whole team looks forward to being greeted by her big smile everyday.
Thank you Deanna for your dedication our team, the EC brand, and our mission to provide excellence.
On September 24th, Evans & Chambers held its annual company picnic at Burke Lake Park in Fairfax County, VA to wrap up a fruitful summer and to prepare for a productive year. Many EC team members, new and old, came out with their families to partake in the fun, food, and fabulous weather. Thank you to all of those who came out to celebrate with us!
For a company to thrive, ensuring a wholesome culture and sense of community is paramount. Evans and Chambers is well aware of this and is looking forward to our next company wide event in December.