PVM Chief Operations Officer, Sydney Metzmaker, recently rejoined the PVM team after a year hiatus. Sydney previously worked with PVM for nine years as a key member of the leadership team, and we are excited to have her back! We sat down with Sydney to learn more about her background with PVM and to find out where she is planning to take PVM to now that she has returned to her operations leadership role.
When did you first join PVM? What was it like being a part of the company from the beginning?
First of all, I am so happy to be back!
When I first joined PVM in April of 2013 the company consisted of Pat, Bret, Marivic, Carrie and a technical team supporting programs out of NWIC PAC. It felt like I was joining a group of friends with a goal of delivering technical excellence, for an important mission, and all working together to build PVM. There wasn’t much in the way of job descriptions, and everything still needed to be developed, from the ground up. For us, that was what made it fun and fulfilling. We all took our role very seriously in building the foundation of PVM.
In general, PVM’s ability to come up with innovative solutions, both programmatically and technically, to figure out the landscape with our customers and partners, is what set us apart. We’re very creative in our thought process, especially within the government domain. PVM’s CEO Pat Mack has enabled our value proposition with government customers with his expert knowledge of the mission spaces that we service. Having been a government customer before, he is able to be inbound and truly deliver quality service and products.
We look to expand our reach to help other businesses that are seeking an authentic technical and programmatic guide. When I initially joined PVM as an engineer, that authenticity really mattered to me. A lot of other companies are more business-forward instead of technical-forward, which results in schmoozing their way into more business. At PVM, we really mean it when we say we want to provide our communities technical excellence.
How have you seen PVM’s philosophy of “Challenge Accepted” change over the last 10+ years?
The biggest difference I see is that, at first, it was an unspoken bond. As a small group, we understood that everyone aligned with that philosophy because we were tackling new challenges almost every day. Now that PVM is growing, we’re making sure everyone resonates with this philosophy. Challenge Accepted has changed over the last 10+ years based on PVM’s business evolution. Now the challenges we face aren’t always related to building the foundation of the business, however, we do face novel challenges in our work efforts every day. What is most important for everyone to realize is that this philosophy should still bond us together and motivate us to meet every challenge with the same attitude and dedication seen during foundation.
What made you excited to come back to PVM as the Chief Operations Officer (COO)?
I’m a business builder. I like a bit of that unknown space and building business foundation. We had gotten to a relatively steady space after almost nine years of me being with the company and I was looking to build a business foundation again, so I went out on my hiatus.
I did do some building in the year I was away from PVM but when it came down to it, what I realized matters to me the most is that I want to work in a mission-focused environment with people I truly respect and that are in alignment to my values. There was a defining moment in time for me where I could see clearly what mattered to my foundation as a person and in my career. The day of my realization and clarity of self was the very same day that PVM reached out to me again. I saw this as a clear indication that my true path and place is with PVM. And now PVM is building yet again, so I couldn’t ask for anything else.
What has your experience been in a leadership role as a woman with and without PVM? What advice would you offer young women in their careers?
At PVM you are very much advocated for. There is not only a space for you, but there is also ample support which makes it an amazing place for a woman in leadership. I’ve talked to several friends of mine that are in the women in executive and leadership roles in other companies—PVM stands out as a unique space for women. Hopefully it’s not unique for much longer, and I would love to be able to see that change during my lifetime. Growing my career as a leader in this kind of environment was a privilege and it shouldn’t be that way. When I went out for a year to help another company grow, it was really apparent how this environment isn’t commonplace.
Representation is critical. I would say to aspiring young women, if you have a desire to be in a leadership role, go for it. We are needed in the workplace in general because we offer a perspective and insight that adds value. It’s extremely important for companies to embrace that. There are some companies that say they embrace it, and others that truly embrace it. I would say, if you are brave enough, find a company that needs representation and pave the way. Or find a company that has strong representation, embrace it and grow in that space so that you can help others. No matter which route you choose, someday you can pass your experience and knowledge on to another space or group that needs it.
Women have a natural ability to share information and connect to solve problems. That’s a superpower and is something that can build everybody up and help people grow. We can magnify the wealth of knowledge and diverse thought that we naturally have and be powerful in the workplace, for the greater good.
PVM will be growing with its recent 8(a) certification. What are your plans for making that inevitable growth successful?
I have three main objectives for 2023 that are all centered around preparing for growth.
First, is what I am calling True-to-PVM Team Growth. This involves describing very clearly who we are including our values, mission, vision and culture. Then, being thoughtful and deliberate in our communications and actions to affirm the aspects that describe what it means to be True-to-PVM, as we bring on more team members.
The second initiative I'm working on is what I call the One Page Initiative and it's essentially the PVM Handbook. This initiative focuses on getting the entire company on one sheet of music and ensuring that our mission, vision, values and knowledge are documented in a way so we can effectively share and grow (in career and company) together.
The last major initiative I am working on this year is maximizing our opportunities for growth so we can prepare to expand our communities and serve. This year is about building a foundation for growth opportunities so that when they present themselves, we are ready to ensure growth that is True-to-PVM, planned, and measurable.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I would encourage everyone at PVM—I’m speaking to PVM today and PVM in the future—to really think about your impact on how we can be the PVM that we envision being in the future and bring that into your work every day.