5 min read

PVM’s Public Health Account Manager: Meet Hannah Zenas

PVM’s Public Health Account Manager: Meet Hannah Zenas

PVM, as a partner to multiple public health teams, is committed to helping solve data challenges that improve surveillance and outbreak response. Our team is made up of both experienced public health experts and technically savvy engineers. We sat down with one of our public health leaders, Hannah Zenas, to learn more about her background and role working on these programs.

Tell me about your role with PVM. 

I joined PVM this past February as an account manager, and my role is to help augment the public health portfolio. Where Kane Patel is doing business development and making sure that we keep building out this portfolio so we can make an impact for more public health teams across the world, I really get to get into the nitty gritty of our ongoing projects. That means facilitating our client relations, helping our engineers, resolving pain points and verifying that the product that we deliver to our clients across all six contracts is as high quality as possible. It's really fantastic because I've been working with the system that we use to deliver the product to our clients in my previous position, so I'm very familiar. I was in a developer role myself, so I can understand what our engineers are going through, what they're dealing with and the things they are working on. I'm able to help bridge the gap between what the client really wants and needs to what the engineers need to do and vice versa.

I really enjoy this position because it tickles both my technical and management brain. When I came here, I felt like this is what I was meant for because in my previous role as a developer, which I enjoyed very much, I wanted to do more project management. I wanted to take ownership over projects, do a bit more people -- I feel like I have a bit more vision and wanted to be able to exert that and so this role is a perfect fit.

What was your experience before joining PVM, and how did it lead you to your current job?

My previous position was with a large government contractor. I was a data scientist, but really, I did more data engineering. Very similar to what our team engineers do -- developing new tools, reports, data wrangling, data cleaning, pipeline development, pipeline management in the same software that we use. It was an invaluable experience. I'm very grateful that I was able to understand and refine those technical skills.

Prior to that, I was working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a data analyst and database manager for a team called PulseNet, where we identified foodborne disease outbreaks across the country. I was particularly responsible for identifying possible outbreaks for a handful of different serotypes of salmonella, vibrio, yersinia and Shigella. That’s when I became entrenched in public health and understanding how technology really benefits the efforts of the epidemiologists. I feel like my background was priming me for this kind of position and I'm very grateful for it.

What is PVM's relationship like with our public health client and how have you impacted that relationship?

I think we have a really close relationship.

Kane and I both met at CDC working at PulseNet, so we were colleagues before as well. We have long-standing relationships with some of our clients that go back to our time at CDC. Being able to continue to build that and help improve the technology and platforms that they use for their efforts rather than just being the users ourselves is very, very rewarding work. I feel like they can truly trust us because one, they know our work ethic from our previous work experience with them, but also, we deliver on our word, and they know since we have the public health background that we know the use cases and what they're wanting out of the product we deliver. We can anticipate their needs before they even ask it. We can think of edge cases that they may not have been able to think of during requirements gathering. Our engineers are just so apt to want to be proactive and create the best thing we possibly can. So, I think our relationship with our client is good because we can meet them where they are, we understand their needs and we can translate that into what we deliver.

At PVM we approach everything with an Inbound mindset. Explain to me how your team approaches the inbound methodology for our public health client.

We're very anticipatory. We want to put ourselves in our client’s shoes so we can anticipate their needs and help mitigate their pain points. We’re very good at thinking big picture in that regard but we are also meticulous in our documentation. We've created standardized reporting and we probably report ad nauseam but we really value that transparency and clarity. This way we can mitigate any misunderstandings as soon as possible and we understand what we're supposed to deliver, and our client knows exactly what they're going to get. It gets rid of any air of mystery. Our iterative approach and Sprint oriented development also makes sure everything we do is clear.

Based on my past experiences, I know that PVM goes above and beyond in meticulously documenting and reporting everything. In previous roles, I’ve seen that this process for other organizations can be very iterative, getting feedback, approval and final sign offs throughout the process. With the reporting we do here at PVM, we focus on to fleshing out all the details of what our client wants on the onset. This way, it's a little less iterative with feedback. Obviously, there's still room for feedback, but this allows them to tell us exactly what they want up front. It makes our lives a bit more efficient, so that way we can deliver exactly what they want with a higher level of communication.

Can you touch on your general experience as a woman in STEM?

I have two bachelor’s degrees, both in biology and management information systems. Management information systems is a business degree but is a STEM business degree. It really is the bridge between computer science and business application which is essentially what we do here. I’m able to translate software, technical development, etc. into business application. But with that biology background, that's why I'm primed for public health. Then, I got my masters in bioinformatics.

It's also really encouraging to be surrounded by so many like-minded women. I've never felt like there's been an absence of female representation and we come together, and it's been so supportive.

I was also on the executive board during undergrad for the Women in Technology chapter at the University of Georgia. It was awesome to see the collaboration, know that we were there for each other, and be introduced to different ways of thinking.

I honestly feel very fortunate that there was a lot of support because not every experience is like mine, but I feel like there are a lot of resources put so put forth so that women felt empowered to enter the field. And I benefited from my professors, the programs that were in my available to me, and similar minded colleagues. Almost every position I've been in has been woman led. I feel very empowered through that.

The people before us really paved the way so that we could have an easier time of it. They shouldered the burden to make this better path and I feel fortunate to have reaped those benefits.

What has your experience been with PVM's work culture?

It's awesome.

I am so happy. I'll admit, having been at 10,000+ employee companies prior to this, there was some apprehension to go to a smaller company, but I just I had a feeling that it was the right fit for me, and I was definitely not disappointed.

The culture is fantastic. Everyone cares genuinely. Everyone is incredibly authentic. The work ethic of my colleagues, the engineers on my team, those above me, my leadership, it’s clear that people just want to live out the mission of PVM, which is to just do good. It sounds cheesy and maybe cliche, but I really mean it. They don't just talk to talk the talk; they walk the walk and I'm very grateful to be a part of it.