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Javen Barber

Technical Project Manager

1 year at Ridgeline

How would you describe your role?

My role is to bridge the gap between the technical team and the business leaders in the Program Management Office. I manage the projects and I lead the people who execute the technical mission. I think having a good grasp on both the business end and experience with the customer set as well as understanding the technical pieces which gives me a good grasp on this role.

How has your experience at Ridgeline been so far?

Ridgeline is probably the only company I’ve ever seen in the mid-sized range that has been able to figure out how to be both agile and customized to the needs of the customer. That is a tough thing to do and we’ve done it really, really well. It empowers me to make tough decisions quickly with the help of people who know, and can make the change effectively when it’s needed fast. It’s also enabled me as a TPM to solve tough problems in unique ways without a lot of red tape. Good forethought about what we’re doing, but not a lot of bureaucracy.

How would you describe your team?

I fall under the big CIO team, but I lead a smaller team of 16 engineers, kind of split down the middle between software people and systems people. My folks manage about seven of our projects within the CIO for six to seven customers. We’re focused on software development and mobile application development at the moment. But we’ve got our hands in cloud architecture and the Systems side of the house. It’s an awesome culture. Good luck finding a team better than our team. Our team is – I don’t know how else to put it – just after it. I think everyone has a sense of what an impact we’re making with our solutions. Couldn’t really ask for a better group of folks. Hardworking and mission focused.

What has your biggest accomplishment been at Ridgeline so far?

I would say figuring out a project management flow that fits for all or most of the team. It sounds basic to my role, but we’ve got these daily standup meetings that have to happen and it’s got to fit everybody’s schedule. And it has to be an effective meeting, right? I think the biggest accomplishment is managing time in a way that is helpful and not a blocker for the engineers. One of my biggest duties as a TPM is to shield them from anything that is not hands-on-keyboard and I think I’ve figured out good ways to do that in that last year.

What parts of Ridgeline’s mission do you connect with?

We break down our tech products into pillars at Ridgeline, and efforts on the Contour pillar are where I identify with the most. I understand the overarching goal of that pillar and I see how it makes an impact. For me, when we talk about Digital Signature Management, being able to control your signature to fit your needs – at the ones and zeroes level, we’re helping to make sure missions are secure and effective.

I think Ridgeline is the right fit for me because it keeps me in the middle of two things. I still have the great connection to our customers and their missions that keep our nation safe, and I’m supporting the products and services that enable those missions to be successful.

What resources have you taken advantage of in your time at Ridgeline?

For my projects and teams, when we have a need for something, as long as there’s a justification for it on the technical side, I’ve never seen a company faster to procure and hand that over to the team. And that speaks to the culture of Ridgeline a little bit. That is one of the biggest things about Ridgeline that I could say we’re doing really well – supporting the team with the tools they need to get the job done.

As someone who works mainly remote, how do you stay connected?

For me, it was really important to start out onsite. I worked in the office for almost four months before I went fully remote. I think I needed that. I got a taste initially of the Ridgeline culture and that’s important for me. Now as a remote employee, we’re still getting that good banter back and forth over chat channels. We’re still getting the camaraderie in our meetings. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we take our work seriously. I think culturally, we’re doing a good job at being a mix of remote and in the office. We’ve also got Big Room Planning sessions which is where everybody comes to Ridgeline if they’re able. We get the chance to plan out the next two-to-three months of work and go grab a bite to eat, high five each other, that kind of thing.

How do you think you’ve grown professionally here?

One of the things that hit me pretty quick was learning to understand the special sauce behind our Digital Signature Management technology. That in and of itself is an art and science. All of the moving pieces that make that happen for our customers.

Figuring out tough concepts and being able to apply them in every project I manage was a personal growth point for me. In the past, places I’ve worked put their projects into a container, they’re separated. At Ridgeline, they’re not. Everything we’re doing is driving toward the single mission and trying to wrap my mind around that was tough. I had to start from the top of what we’re doing and work my way down across our projects and customers. It took me several months to understand everything we offer as a company.

What is unique about working at Ridgeline?

The ability to work really hard at really hard things for a long time, and then when there’s success, the gratification that comes with that. It’s unlike any job or project that I’ve ever managed. But outside of the work itself, I think what’s nice is the level of humanity between my leadership and the level above them. I can shoot my boss’s boss a chat just to say “Hey, what do you think about this?” and I’ll get responses. Candid responses. We have great conversations with our leadership.

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