The tide is changing. The powerful can no longer hide from the collective voice of survivors everywhere. Executives, actors, producers, politicians and TV personalities are answering for their abuses. Some incidents are recent, and some span decades. This was unheard of just months ago. Companies, industries and even Congress shielded perpetrators. They paid out settlements and then sat back as the behavior continued. Not anymore. While some may continue to resist the progress being made, they will ultimately have no choice but to grow and improve. That is the power of our collective voice.
But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
UPDATE 12.4.17: Ran into a former coworker this weekend. "How's it going at SolAero?" he asked. They laid me off. "NO!!! I heard something about that. Many employees I heard. You're such a great guy. You did excellent work. I was really concerned about management. Seemed confused. Saw a couple red flags there. Happy I found another place at this time. Really sorry to hear. You're a good person and you'll find something better."
SolAero Technologies CEO and president, Brad Clevenger (below), proudly accepted public congratulations, praise and funding from New Mexico governor, Susana Martinez, Albuquerque mayor, Richard Berry, and other leaders in the business communmity for company plans to hire additional employees in 2017 and 2018. CEO Brad holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida. He has published over 50 journal articles and holds four U.S. patents. Yet on October 19th, CEO Brad and SolAero Technologies senior management were complicit in abandonning 16 local families. CEO Brad knows chemistry; he's skilled writing articles; he quits on People!
My coworker, Frank, had been part of the team for over 18 years. He didn't give up on SolAero Technologies. CEO Brad quit on him. Cathy had served the company over 10 years. She didn't let down SolAero Technologies; CEO Brad quit on her. Happy Holidays — here's your pink slip. Losing a job ranks No. 8 on the Holmes-Rahe stress inventory — not far behind the death of a spouse or going to jail. CEO Brad accepted the public kudos, as well as some $200,000 in public grants, yet cheated competent employees.
"This is great news for New Mexico and another example of what's possible when businesses know they're welcome in New Mexico," said Governor Susana Martinez. "New Mexico has become the place to do business because of our bold reforms and business friendly attitude over the last six years, and we have to continue building on that success."
"By once again utilizing the City's LEDA funds to support a local company, we are reaffirming our commitment to supporting businesses to start, grow and flourish in Albuquerque ... This is a great home-grown success story that we can all be proud of," said Mayor Richard J. Berry.
As an incentive, New Mexico Economic Development Department (EDD) awarded SolAero with $182,090, through the Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP), to support employee training for the expansion. [source]
Why Did EDD Award SolAero Technologies $182,090?November 27, 2017
Matthew Geisel, Cabinet Secretary
Barbara Brazil, Deputy Cabinet Secretary
Cassandra Baca, Executive Assistant to Deputy Cabinet Secretary
Benjamin Cloutier, Communications Director
David Mathews, General Counsel
Ryan Eustice, Economist
Therese Varela, Director, Economic Development Division
Sara Gutiérrez, Program Manager, Job Training Incentive Program
Tanya Ortiz, Program Administrator, Job Training Incentive Program
Patrick Gannon, Marketing Coordinator, Job Training Incentive Program
Good afternoon New Mexico Economic Development Department:
I'm a strong supporter of your program. New Mexico desperately needs improved economic development. SolAero Technologies laid off a total of SIXTEEN qualified and competent employees on about October 19, 2017. More may follow. Happy Holidays to our families!
Your agency awarded the space solar panel manufacturer about $182,090 around February 2017 to "support employee training" for the Building Two OneWeb expansion. I performed "Mission Critical" work and wore many hats. My coworkers did as well. Frank had been with the company for 18 years; Cindy for over 10 years. All of us could have been retrained, if necessary, rather than being kicked into the unemployment line.
Isn't this why OUR tax money went to SolAero Technologies? This seems to be an example of a company complicit in FRAUD and CORRUPTION. What happened to the taxpayer funds?
I have blogged about this unethical behavior at:
Look forward to hearing from you. Many thanks in advance!
November 27, 2017 at 7:06 PM
Thank you for your email correspondence. JTIP is a post performance program and one that requires companies that receive job training awards to go through an audit before public funds are expended.
Deputy Cabinet Secretary
State of NM Economic Development Department
1100 South St. Francis Drive
Santa Fe, NM 87505-4147
November 28, 2017 at 9:33 AM
Good morning Ms. Brazil,
Thank you for getting back to me. Clearly, I'm unhappy with the company’s decision to lay me off along with about 15 other competent and talented employees. They offered me $3,500 to shut up and go away quietly. As you can see, I’m not happy with their offer. They made a political enemy of me. My coworkers are amazing! Best, smartest group with whom I have served. I believe SR management is clueless and confused.
I want to dig deeper into the grant that JTIP awarded the company. The City of Albuquerque also appears to have assisted them. I’m looking into this award as well. They may be using taxpayer funds to put families on the street.
What can you share with me? I’m comfortable making an IPRA (Inspection of Public Records) request, if you need this. Look forward to hearing from you.
Many thanks for your time!
November 29, 2017 at 10:22 AM
Good morning Ms. Brazil,
Per our previous conversation, I wanted to follow up today with a formal IPRA request (attached below). As I am uncertain to whom I should make this request, I have included what appears to be the applicable personnel in my communication.
Thank you for your time. Look forward to hearing from you or your team.
PDF ATTACHMENT: November 29, 2017
Matthew Geisel, Cabinet Secretary
Barbara Brazil, Deputy Cabinet Secretary
Therese Varela, Director
Sara Gutierrez, Job Training Incentive Program
Ben Cloutier, Public Information Officer
New Mexico Economic Development Department (EDD)
Joseph M. Montoya Building
1100 S. St. Francis Drive
Santa Fe, NM 87505-4147
Dear New Mexico EDD:
Under the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act, 14-2-1 NMSA 1978 et seq., I am requesting an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of public records that pertain to the New Mexico EDD Job Training Incentive Program (herein JTIP) and reported award to SolAero Technologies, Corp [herein SolAero Technologies], 10420 Research Road SE, Albuquerque, NM 87123, in the approximate amount of $182,090 around February 2017. SolAero Technologies recently laid off a reported 16 employees on about October 19, 2017. Please provide access to the following:
If there are any fees for searching or copying these records, please inform me if the cost will exceed $25. However, I would also like to request a waiver of all fees in that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest and will contribute significantly to the public’s understanding of the Job Training Incentive Program. This information is not being sought for commercial purposes.
- Summary of JTIP
- Application procedures for JTIP
- Criteria and qualifications to be awarded funding through JTIP
- ANY and/or ALL SolAero Technologies application for JTIP
- JTIP evaluation score or rating of SolAero Technologies justifying ANY and/or ALL funding awards
- History of ANY and/or ALL JTIP funding distributed to SolAero Technologies
- JTIP audit process
- ANY and/or ALL JTIP audit results for SolAero Technologies
The New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act requires a response time of no less than three business days. If access to the records I am requesting will take longer than this amount of time, please contact me with information about when I might expect copies or the ability to inspect the requested records.
If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law.
Thank you for considering my request.
December 1, 2017 at 8:41 AM
Deputy Secretary Brazil forwarded your IPRA request to me. We will honor your request, but I do not know how many documents are involved. I also do not know if the documents contain any protected information regarding SolAero employees.
New Mexico Economic Development Department
December 1, 2017 at 9:19 AM
Aloha Friday Mr. Mathews,
Appreciate hearing from you. Thank you for updating me. Look forward to receiving the information we requested.
EMCORE Corporation was founded in 1984 and headquartered in Alhambra, California. Albuquerque-based SolAero Technologies was born around September 17, 2014, due to a $150 million investment by Vertias Capital, to continue the solar space power division of EMCORE. Since that time, senior management at SolAero Technologies has been confused, chaotic and callous. There have been numerous layoffs, as leaders deserted skilled staff.
CEO Brad introduced himself to me in February 2017 — about the time SolAero Technologies made headlines for launching a $10M expansion in the Albuquerque area and promising "at least 80 new high-tech solar jobs." I had dazzled him with an internal memo titled, "The Three Cs of Leadership: Command, Control and Communication." He shook my hand and urged me to continue my BOLD leadership. Yet CEO Brad was neither bold nor courageous when it came to supporting SolAero Technologies staff in return. I managed "mission critical" projects and earned my compensation. Our IT team remained understaffed and overwhelmed when CEO Brad kicked me under the bus and into the unemployment line. I met COO Jeffrey Lassiter shortly after my improptu session with CEO Brad. He asked me to "fill shoes two sizes too big." I did — competently! Yet COO Jeff's courage to support dedicated employees didn't fill shoes two size larger. COO Jeff is a wimp when it comes to caring for committed, talented staff.
The SolAero Technologies, Quitting on Employees, culture includes HR director, Silvia Gentile, as well as my senior adviser, Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez). She participated in hiring me. She selected me to team with her specifically in the Business Intelligence (BI) group. She served as my supervisor, trainer and senior work partner. I looked forward to partnering with her each day. She was a company Rock Star and I aspired to be like her. She suffered difficult personal challenges during our year together and SolAero Technologies placed massive demands on her. I did everything I could to support her. For some reason, she gave up on me. One day she was happy with me; the next she was angry. Was it her personal life? Was it something I did? She wouldn't talk to me about it. She wouldn't meet with a mediator or other professional. She just quit on me! To this day, Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez) has never explained her behavior or apologized for treating me unprofessionally. Due to her silence, I tell my story. Costing another person their job due to a personal matter is unethical and unacceptable.
For over nine months, Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez) and I had a strong, positive relationship. She inspired me. I motivated her. "Side by side," she wanted. Frustrated, isolated and working alone, she sought a partner. We became a Dynamic Duo. She was Batman; I, Robin. We spit, shook hands, and exchanged decoder rings. We killed it and management noticed. Our GM said when departing, "You and Rosario will continue to do amazing things there." In mid-September 2017, her behavior toward me was pleasant and professional. She warmly wished me, Feliz cumpleaños. Her birthday was a week later. I gave her a card and our group sang Happy Birthday to her. Days later, she became angry and hostile toward me. She refused to seek help or mediation. Rosario had quit on me. Speaking with the HR director on October 3rd, I explained her perturbing attitude toward me. As Rosario served as my trainer, I feared I would lose my job. Silvia Gentile assured me the company loved my work and planned on keeping me a long time. On October 19th, SolAero Technologies terminated my employment.
It's nearly impossible today to turn on TV or read online news and not hear horror stories told by victims of inappropriate activity in the workplace. Sometimes for decades, employees have suffered in silence as powerful coworkers FORCED them to tolerate unwanted behavior. Why didn't these victims speak up? There is ONE common theme — they didn't want to lose their job or frustrate their career. They suffered terrible crimes in silence. This is how important a job is to people.
Hannah, a woman who survived the mass shooting in Las Vegas, wrote recently in HuffPost, "In many ways I feel like every bullet that didn't physically hit me, because none of them did, all hit me mentally and emotionally. If you could do a fictitious scan of my head, it would look like Swiss cheese, because they all went through me on some level."
Bullets from Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez) ripped through me mentally and emotionally. My head and soul were Swiss cheese. This is how important my job was to me.
Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez) is a quitter. DEFINED: a person who gives up easily or does not have the courage or determination to finish a task. The warning signs were there. Just as society wonders how they missed seeing the symptoms of a sick, deranged mass shooter, I missed signs telling me Rosario was a deserter. About two weeks after joining SolAero Technologies, my hiring manager called us to a meeting, "I'm fed up with senior management. I cannot continue working 80 hours per week and I've accepted another position." Rosario blurted out, "You can't leave. You told me I couldn't quit." Tip #1: Rosario was willing to quit. The manager was carrying her.
After working with Rosario for a couple months, she had grown to treasure me. "You're fearless," she confided. She's correct. I'm a person with much courage. None would call me a quitter. I told Rosario about a woman who reminded me of her. Jenny had earned five gold medals as a professional athlete. She was offered a head coaching position for an Olympic team. "I'm not good enough," she told me. Jenny had never been a head coach and Olympic pressure was intense. I knew great coaches. I recognized Jenny as a Diamond in the Rough. She could be the best; just as I knew Rosario could be the best. "You're too confident," Jenny chided. "You are the best coach in the world; you have the best team. We will win gold," I said courageously. Jenny believed in me. We were ranked 10th in the world when we started. We played for Olympic gold two years later. Yes, Rosario reminded me of Jenny. Big difference though. Jenny isn't a quitter. She finally earned Olympic gold as a head coach in 2016. Rosario gave up!
Rosario initially believed in me. This explains why I had enchanted her. She divulged one day, "I'm divorcing my husband." I asked if Hector had been a bad husband. No. Abusive? No. Mean to your boys? No. "He's a good father," she said. There was no specific reason. Tip #2: After more than 20 years of marriage successfully raising three boys, she deserted her man. She quit on her boys and abandoned her family. SolAero Technologies kept Rosario and cast me aside. Senior management frequently quits on employees. This also explains why CEO Brad Clevenger was awestruck by me initially. My courageous character fascinated him — just as my Gold Medal attitude had transfixed Rosario. Neither are courageous enough to play with a bold person like me though. Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez) and Brad Clevenger are quitters.
Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez) ripped our team apart. She cheated me. Why? Lied to me. Why? Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez) cost me my job. Why? What explains such bizarre behavior? My supervisor, trainer, senior partner was emotionally blackmailing me! She placed her personal feelings before our professional responsibilities. SolAero Technologies assigned us to fix a system in shambles. Rosario broke down frequently at first. She wanted to give up. I refused. "You see this hand?" I asked one day. "I'm a nobody, but this hand outplayed Michael Jordan." I have a history of refusing to give up and earned a spot on the scrimmage team that prepared USA Men's Basketball team for the Olympics. I played phenomenal that week. "If you're going to quit, then quit. Have the courage to walk away. Yet if you want to win, take my hand. Shake this hand that bested Jordan," I teased. "We have the talent. It's all about believing in OUR team now." I extended my hand. She shook the hand that "schooled Jordan." We promised never to mention quitting again and agreed to partner for five years.
Together, we tore into our assignments courageously. Coworkers teased us for putting in so many long days. Her close coworker and friend, Cynthia Ponce, first referred to Rosario as my "work wife." We all laughed. The chemisty between us was infectious. We were motivated and were inspiring others. Part of my duties included backing up Rosario when she was absent. Chief Technology Officer, Paul Sharps, praised my skill mending his broken PR in early 2017. "Learning Syteline is so tribal," he said in frustration. There weren't manuals for most of our work. We learned from each other. Teamwork was critical and Rosario told me she was an "All or nothing person." On about September 16th, she wrote to me, "Well, the work wife is selfish and likes not sharing." Rosario's coded message to me, "Quit on your wife or I will quit on you!"
Consider this: inadvertantly or intentionally, you offend another party. You email them. No response. You email them again. No response. If the party is truly offended, most will respond by saying, "Stop contacting me." Although Rosario acted as if I had upset her, she didn't demand I stop contacting her. She loved watching me squirm and hurt. She had power over me. I was junior; she was senior. Without her, no training; no growth. She took pleasure listening to me try to rebuild our team. My mother was passive aggressive this way. She would punish my father for days — sometimes weeks. Rosario was behaving this way. I pleaded with her to stop. I told her I hoped she didn't treat her beautiful boys this way. Such pain! Rosario refused to answer — just like an 11th Grade girl in high school. I was trying to take SolAero Technologies to Mars and my childish coworker simply wanted me to force me to take her to Winter Ball.
Rosario stopped communicating with me about September 29th. Albuquerque Police had to direct her on November 22nd to tell me to stop reaching out to her — nearly two months later.
NOTE: Nobody from SolAero Technologies asked me to cease communicating with senior management or employees prior to this date. They are complicit in fraud and corruption. They have callously terminated quality and competent employees. They hoped I would go away. As the historic patriot and US Naval Commander, John Paul Jones, remarked, "I have not yet begun to fight!"
A person truly angry with another party does not act this way. A person scheming to manipulate and punish acts this way. Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez) acted this way. She failed at her repeated attempts to force me to eat her mom's coffee cake; failed her attempts to make me eat her chocolate delights or breakfast bagels. How many times does a guy have to say, "No!" Sugar can leave me mangry so I don't eat sweet treats at work. Rosario knew this. She wanted to exercise her POWER over me. Rosario had an agenda and her objective appeared focused on forcing me to discard my wife.
Rosario mentioned a number of times she didn't like our group's seating arrangement. She became brutally angry with me in June when I said I didn't want to share an office with her. "You don't like me; you don't want to work with me," she cried. I simply thought the small office was too crowded for us. I had proposed we work in a larger area. Rosario told me frequently she didn't like me in the back by myself. She felt I was isolated and missing out on important information. I agreed with her. We suffered a minor communication breakdown — she instructed a coworker to do one thing; I told another to do something else. Wasn't a big deal, but could be on another assigment. I recommended we get together to discuss options. We met Tuesday, September 26th, and came up with four alternatives to the current situation:
As we had raised this concern with our new manager individually without success months ago, we agreed the best strategy would be to jointly present our proposal to him. I knew her fairly well. She seemed to leave the meeting with a positive, optimistic attitude. I was hopeful as well. This didn't happen. Without telling me, Rosario spoke with our manager by herself. Tom again denied the request. When I discovered this on Thursday, September 28th, I was shocked. "Why did you cheat me?" I asked bewildered. "Not important," Rosario responded. She offered no apology. She was not remorseful. She reiterated it simply was not important. It had been important to me. I sent her a text that evening:
Thu, Sep 28, 9:11 PM
Buena noches ... Where we sit is 0% important to me. Was hoping to be more effective, but this works fine. You did shock me [for lying to me] and that suggests you weren't comfortable about something. I always want you to be comfortable. I don't think I read between the lines on this. As you said, not a big deal. Hope you sleep well.
Rosario didn't respond. This was unusual. I knew she had been going through some difficult times in her personal life. She was in a messy divorce with her husband. I thought this might explain her silence. On Friday, September 29th, our supervisor told me Rosario is "mad at you." "For what?" I asked. He didn't know. We were busy so I sent Rosario a text the next day. We had texted each other since I joined the company.
Sat, Sep 30, 3:57 PM
Hola ... yesterday, Cisco said you were upset with me. Might be good for us to meet with HR. If that's ok with you, I'll request an appointment. I'm going in tomorrow. Tuesday might be open. Sound good?
Rosario didn't respond.
Sun, Oct 1, 12:35 PM
Buenos dias ... Cisco text me the fab is down. Nathan responded. I'm heading over now. I know you get my texts. The fact you don’t respond shows me we do need help from a coach. All great teams in the world work with coaches. It's not a bad thing. We are a great team. Actually, we are a brilliant team! You are important to me; we are important to this company; I will not let us fail. I'll copy you on my request to HR. I'm asking for 10am on Tuesday. Have a beautiful, restful day.
Rosario didn't respond. In fact, she never responded to me by text again. She was Hostile In Person when we worked together on an assignment (10.4.17 below). She simply did the "bare minimum" with me from this point forward. I certainly do not claim to be an expert on women, but behavior such as this signals to me I had upset and/or angered my supervisor/trainer/senior partner somehow. She wouldn't speak with me about it. We were entering an intense period of work. We needed to cooperate effectively. As I told Rosario, I contacted HR and requested a meeting for us. Rosario refused to meet (see 10.2.17 at 8:35 AM below). The HR director refused to bring us together. Clearly, Rosario was upset. She just punished me with her passive aggressive behavior until the company fired me.
Pleasant & Professional
9.17.17: Rosario wished me Happy Birthday. Says I have a good heart. I thanked my friend, "mi amiga." The next day I praise Rosario for her "Rock Star" efforts because she stayed late to finish extra work. I reminded her I was willing to "help out" anytime.
10.1.17: Supervisor notified me of "Critical Ticket." This is Big Deal for our IT team. All members required to assist. Rosario REFUSED to respond and NEGLECTED professional duties. What should I do when my senior partner doesn't want to cooperate with me?
Hostile in Person
10.4.17: About 4pm, I joined Rosario to work on ticket. She was a total "bitch" to me. We worked at her desk. She made it hard for me to see and was hostile. Talking to Paul on the phone, she was pleasant and cheerful. When finished, she continued her anger with me.
From: Rosario Gonzalez
Sent: Monday, October 2, 2017 8:35 AM
To: SolAero Tech Employee; Silvia Gentile, HR Director
Cc: Tom Hensley, IT Manager
Subject: RE: Meeting Request
I'm not participating on this meeting. I don't want to be wasting others people time just because you and I don't know how to communicate well. I think I can easily fix this problem by sending you all my communications via email. This way you have detail information and we avoid misunderstandings.
No need for therapy time, I'm here to produce and get the job done.
Send you all my communications via email?
Employees at SolAero Technologies used email extensively, as do most people today. Yet CEO Brad Clevenger had instituted "no email Fridays" near the end of 2016 to encourage us improve communications and teamwork. SolAero Technologies recognized the efficiency of email, while cautioning about limitations. Rosario's proposed solution violated company culture and common sense. HR director, Silvia Gentile, said nothing. Kristie Lorette writes about the "Use of Email in Business Communication":
Although internal email usage can cover many areas within the business, it cannot and should not replace all face-to-face communication and others forms of communication. Using email in business communication is certainly less personal than face-to-face communication. It can hinder social interaction and lead to less relationship building in the workplace. Misunderstandings are commonplace in written communication simply because the recipient cannot read the writer's tone and expression, and therefore is left to interpretation.
SolAero Technologies falsely accuses me. They hope to intimidate. These BOLD words of truth frighten cowardly senior managers. This is why the HR director advised, "We cant [sic] answer his emails." What kind of people BRAG and BOAST publicly about planning to hire some 100 people — receiving kudos from Albuquerque's mayor and New Mexico's governor — then fire workers for the Holiday Season. Frank had 18 years of service. Was senior managment not smart enough to find a way to retrain and retain him? Cathy had over 10 years. Fantastic employee. Could not train her for one of the new positions? I knew both — smart, talented and dedicated employees. SolAero Technologies senior management: CEO Brad Clevenger, COO Jeff Lassiter, HR director, Silvia Gentile — you totally suck!
About September 29, 2017, my senior partner, Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez), stopped interacting with me as we had done over the past 9-10 months. Something had upset her; she was angry and apparently offended. Since hiring me, she had turned on the "light" intellectually and professionally for me. Now, she simply switched it off. I tried repeatedly to determine what had happened. Rosario refused to discuss the matter with me. I tried in person; sought professional intervention; emailed; and finally, created this website. SolAero Technologies HR director, Silvia Gentile, childishly continued to view this as a "social" concern — as if we were in 7th grade or something. I didn't want to go to the noon dance with my coworker; didn't want to have a beer with her. She had withdrawn from me professionally.
Doing the Bare Minimum
Speaking with Silvia Gentile and APD Officer Barlow, they asked how Ms. Gonzalez changed her behavior. Many ways. One example is she began to provide only bare minimum information and make bare minimum effort when I sought help or collaboration. Both the HR director and police officer said, "Why is that a problem? Rosario is only required to do the bare minimum." Let's ask Albuquerque voters. Crime has skyrocketed in Albuquerque. Officer Barlow has no problem with Albuquerque police doing only the bare minimum to provide security. Are you satisfied with this attitude?
From observation, I believe the SolAero Technologies HR director is a bare minimum employee. Silvia Gentile was more concerned whether employees ironed their slacks, tucked in shirts and combed their hair rather than getting to Jupiter or studying Mars. She's not suited for scientific research and manufacturing. I came to her for help on October 3rd. She told me honestly SolAero Technologies loved my work. Two weeks later, she fired me! Bare minimum effort — it's easy to fire. It takes hard work to build successful teams. Rosario and I had formed a successful team. Yet my female coworker was suffering intense personal problems at home; pressure was high at work. Under difficult conditions, teams can become side tracked. It take more than bare minimum effort to build champions!
SolAero Technologies produces solar cells used in defense and science missions in space. Sending a probe to study the sun is not a bare minimum project. Conducting detailed reconnaissance of Europa, a moon of Jupiter, is not a bare minimum project. There are no technicians in space. Our work must be PERFECT. Missions take years, maybe decades, our work must LAST. Conditions in space — intense radiation, wicked and harsh temperatures — require more than bare minimum efforts. SolAero Technologies hired me because I WAS NOT a bare minimum employee. I managed ALL the information for a $100 million company. One mistake and I could delete all of it. SolAero Technologies did not hire me to do a bare minimum job. They wanted Maximum Effort from all of us. The company recognized Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez) as a Rock Star, because she WAS NOT a bare minimum employee. These two women defend bare minimum effort to PROTECT a woman unjustly.
Bare Minimum is NOT the Rock Star culture at SolAero Technologies. Frank was not a bare minimum employee; Cathy was not a bare minimum employee. I am not a bare minimum employee. Any who accept bare minimum effort should be the ones in the unemployment line.
Establishing Boundaries Critical In The Workplace
It took two months for Rosario to respond to me (11.22.17 below). She and SolAero Technologies contacted police due to my persistence. Even APD Officer Barlow scolded Rosario, "You must tell him what you want. You cannot remain silent!" Thank you! The negligent HR director wouldn't do this. She perpetuated the tension. She gave my powerful coworker a pass. Silvia Gentile borrowed from Rose McGowan, "Wee little baby man had a widdle baby tantrum cos he wants his coworker to be professional with him." Although Rosario continues to refuse to explain what went wrong, all I ever asked was an explanation from her. Officer Barlow shared with me, "Unfortunately, she doesn't have to give you the answer you are seeking." A professional would answer me, but the officer is correct. I can't demand my female coworker treat me professionally or ethically. All I can do is tell this story and hope conditions improve for the next generation.
One male coworker at SolAero Technologies, Clinton, would greet me whenever we passed with a bear hug and "God bless you!" I accepted his hug and salutation. By my action, I gave him "permission" to greet me this way in the future. It would be both unfair and unprofessional to run to HR and file a complaint after Clinton greeted me this way one morning months later. I had given him permission. It was my responsibility, as well as obligation, to tell him I wanted to change the rules — if I wanted our relationship to be different.
Power, or perception of power, changes this dynamic. Clinton and I were coworkers. We had equal power with each other. This is called symmetrical. If Party A is a supervisor and Party B is a subordinate employee, rules change. The relationship is assymmetrical. Subordinates can feel compelled or coerced to accept the greeting, although they would prefer not to be hugged. Policy attorney, Heron Greenesmith, provides an example:
Let's say Kris had a drink or two at a bar with Taylor. Kris is Taylor's supervisor at work. Kris invited Taylor home and Taylor agreed. At home, Kris and Taylor made out. Weeks later, HR requested Kris go through mandatory sexual harassment training because Taylor realized she felt coerced by the difference in power in the situation at the bar.
Kris did not think he had used his power to coerce Taylor. But that is not Kris's decision to make. Even without making a conscious decision to use violence, Kris used his power as Taylor's work supervisor to coerce Taylor into sex. Even if the interaction seemed consensual to Kris — Kris asked Taylor home and Taylor said yes — the power differential made it difficult for Taylor to make any choice other than to consent. And consent by coercion is not consensual.
Rosario had power over me. She assisted my hire; served as my supervisor; was my trainer; and, her title was Senior Datawarehouse Analyst. I was her junior. Over weeks and months, we set our boundaries. We were not romantic. We did not wish to date. Outside of frequent "high fives" when we successfully completed a task, we didn't touch. Both of us wanted simply to be platonic employees at SolAero Technologies. Rosario and I texted daily — at work and later when we were home. After work we would replay some of the day's events or prepare for the upcoming day. Communicating at SolAero Technologies, we relied on personal phones. If Rosario was running late, she would text me, for example. We didn't always have a company computer with us. On about September 29th, Rosario began refusing to respond to me by text. Nada! Silencio!
On Saturday, October 7th, I sent the following text to her. She had refused to answer any of my texts since the 29th:
Buenas tardes ... hope your day is going well. Modesta emailed us a training this week. It talks about our responsibilities as employees. We granted each other permission to text and used this consistently. It's a social contract, as they say. And, we've going 100mph. Then, one day, you drop to zero. As they say politically, the silence is deafening! This effects our work relationship. We must have boundaries ...
I sent a memo to SR management this week, copying Tom & Eric. If you're not interested, that's fine. But per our contract with each other, do you want to participate?
Simply put, if you don't want me to contact you, send STOP. If you want to hear more, OK. If you respect me at all, please tell me what you want. Gracias
Rosario did not respond. Apparently she didn't respect me anymore at all. Not STOP; Not OK. What was I to do? She had power over me. She wanted nothing to do with me. Why?
Finally, on Nov 22, 2017, at 9:02 AM, per the directive of the Albuquerque Police Department, Rosario Gonzalez wrote:
I'm not sure the purpose of all of this but you know what, I need you to STOP sending me emails.
Not interested on any type of communication with you at all.
Police has been notified.
As Rosario claimed she wasn't sure about the purpose of my emails, at 9:39 AM, I responded:
Thank you for [finally] reaching out to me. As I always told you, I would respect any of your wishes. "You make the rules," we agreed. And, I will respect your wish. This will be my final communication.
You questioned the "purpose of all this." You served as my supervisor, trainer and senior coworker. For some reason, you stopped communicating with me. How can I do the important work SolAero tasked me to do with you so angry and upset with me? I begged you to meet with me to see if we could work this out. Together, we could fix anything, right? Isn't this what you told me? You refused to try. This is not professional behavior.
Trying to resolve this tension, I asked you to meet with Ms. Gentile. I sought a place that maybe you would feel safe. You again refused and became more angry with me. Thus, I met with her alone. I even asked her if I "smelled badly." She laughed ... yet something I was doing was upsetting you. I simply wanted peace with my valued coworker. You refused to even try to heal the fracture. To this day, I have NO IDEA why you became (and remained) so upset with me.
Being isolated from the group, being torn apart from my coworker, I became panicked and defensive. This job was critical to me — and I could feel it slipping away. I couldn't afford to lose this job — just as you can't afford to lose your job. Facing this conundrum, my behavior became erratic — especially with Tom and Ms. Gentile. I warned you during hiring about my high IQ/low EQ "disability." Not making excuses. This is who I am. I gave you a trigger word to help me; you promised to ensure I didn't get overheated. Yet it was you who frustrated me. Feeling backed into a corner, I became argumentative and difficult.
You assisted my hiring. Your behavior led to my termination. I simply wanted to KNOW what I did to offend you so greatly and why you abandoned me. I would have done anything to correct the breach. I offered many times to try. You refused me. Why?
You asked why I sent you the link. #1: I want you to know how your actions affected me; #2: I am willing to edit, modify or correct any misstatements in my draft recollection if you have suggestions. We are a polarized society that is not communicating effectively. It’s hurting the nation; it cost me my job.
You are welcome to forward any comments or corrections to me. I'll consider them. This will be my final communication.
Why did my supervisor/trainer/senior coworker abandon me? Please tell me. Please!!!
CBS and PBS cut ties with TV host Charlie Rose today amid allegations he sexually harassed and groped multiple women. CBS News President David Rhodes noted despite his important contributions, there "is absolutely nothing more important, in this or any organization, than ensuring a safe, professional workplace — a supportive environment where people feel they can do their best work." SolAero Technologies cares little about providing a professional, safe environment. The solar cell manufacturer fails to create a workplace where people feel safe and are treated with dignity and respect.
SolAero Technologies announced massive layoffs October 19, 2017, although boasting to New Mexico governor, Susana Martinez, and Albuquerque mayor, Richard Berry, the company planned to hire some 80 new employees. More layoffs may follow and this dampens enthusiasm within the company. Although national labor statistics suggest robust hiring, New Mexico remains one of the worst places to be unemployed. Some 16 employees — one male reportedly worked for the space solar cell manufacturer for over 18 years; a female served the company for about ten years — and their families will be unable to participate in the good times, as they stand in the unemployment line. A veteran female financial analyst, who had also been with the company for over 18 years, quit recently citing frustration with management.
Poor leadership is disastrous. For example, General Electric (GE) has been a pillar of American industry for 125 years. The struggling company's stock crashed to a six-year low last week after the company admitted it can no longer afford the dividend that once symbolized its stability. GE's problems were self-inflicted and the failure occurred on the watch of two legendary CEOs, Jack Welch and Jeff Immelt. Welch headed GE from 1981 to 2001. Immelt followed. GE was the worst-performing stock in the Dow during Immelt's 16-year reign. Yet he was named one of the "world's best CEOs" and sat on CEO councils under President Trump and President Barack Obama. Leaders failed yet made millions. For GE's 300,000 employees and millions of shareholders, the consequences have been painful.
SolAero Technologies CEO, Brad Clevenger, and COO, Jeff Lassiter, make millions while passing pain to the company's dedicated employees. One male IT employee believes he was included in the dismissed group because he sought to improve his workplace conditions. His female coworker and senior partner refused to sit in the window-less area because she considered the space "too dark, isolated and extremely cold." The space was adjacent to a server room and SolAero Technologies kept the area brutally frigid to protect servers from overheating. Every other member of the IT group demanded not to be located in the area. SolAero Technologies IT manager, Tom Hensley, and IT director, Eric Kuecherer, refused to be stationed in the unpleasant area as well. Foul odor was also a problem. The area was across from bathrooms. Employees forced to work in the room complained it reeked of "poop" smell.
The male professional says it was torture. "I was part of a small group, like a US military Seal Team where interrelations are critical. My coworker served as my supervisor and trainer. She knew me better than anyone. She kept poking at me to 'fix it.' It wasn't up to me though and I had tried previously. She believed I was missing out on learning opportunities and team building. Other team members would be training, laughing, 'High-Fiving' each other or sharing important company or technical information. I was on the outside looking in. COO Jeff Lassiter stopped by once. He didn't actually come in room — as the area was uninviting. He called the space, 'The Cave.'"
The employee tried to correct the situation a number of times, but says management refused his requests. After suffering a slight communication breakdown, the employee asked for a meeting with his senior coworker. They agreed to jointly speak with their manager. This didn't happen and caused tension between the two. The coworker was under great pressure from SolAero Technologies. Many demands! She was also suffering major personal issues — going through a nasty divorce with her husband of over 20+ years. She told her coworker her family had abandoned her; her boys were angry with her and not speaking to her; that she was suffering horrible pain. She spent the final weeks of September 2017 crying at her desk. What does one do when their work partner is falling apart?
The male employee sought help from SolAero Technologies's HR director on October 3rd. He had invited his struggling coworker to meet for coffee outside work. She refused. He invited her to meet at work. Wasn't interested. He suggested the two meet with HR. This made her angry. Thus, he met with HR by himself. In that meeting, Silvia Gentile assured him that his position with company was safe and SolAero Technologies valued his contributions. Two weeks later, the company pushed him out the door and into the unemployment line. The employee had "mission critical" responsibilities, so SolAero Technologies's explanation of a layoff simply doesn't add up.
Who am I? I'm the guy in highschool who wore a calculator on his belt; who was president of the Physics Club. I'm a geek ... a nerd. If you drop your computer off the balcony, I'm your guy. But I'm socially-awkward and not the best person to take to a cocktail party. I work well with logical machines and code; but the complexity of human emotion confuses me. I am thus high IQ and low EQ. I was honest with SolAero Technologies about my shortcomings. I gave my coworker trainer a trigger word for me. If I became too excited or animated in a meeting, I instructed her to say, "Timeout." SolAero Technologies could have used a timeout as well.
CEO Brad Clevenger told employees he had an "open door" policy. Yet Brad refuses to discuss the isolation matter with the employee. COO Jeff Lassiter instructed employees to watch a TED Talk that described his management style. In the educational video, a submarine commander describes how he "listened" and "learned" from subordinate staff. Jeff refuses to discuss the isolation matter with the employee. Great companies do not do this. Further, the HR director instructs management not to discuss this matter with the employee.
About 5:24pm on November 11, 2017, SolAero Technologies HR director, Silvia Gentile, Silvia_Gentile@solaerotech.com, sent the following memo to company CEO and COO. She doesn't want them to speak with me. She believes silence will resolve our dispute. As I have pointed out, these senior managers are extremely confused. Silvia copied me on her comments. I don't believe she wanted to do this. Too late, the damage was done! She offered a rare glimpse how predatory people scheme and plot to harm those who stand up to injustice in America:
Extremely disturbing.Inappropriate behavior is a PATTERN in America's workplaces and has been out-of-control for decades — both men and women contribute to this hostile environment. Companies "blackball" employees who have a reputation for standing up. I'm thankful for ALL the #MeToo heroes who finally feel safe to speak out. Too many have suffered in the shadows for too long. One of the strategies used by predatory males/females and companies is to SHAME and/or BLAME victims to destroy their reputations. It appears SolAero Technologies plans to do this to me.
We cant answer his emails.
Sent from my iPhone
People at SolAero Technologies adore Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez). I admired, honored and respected my coworker as well. Few know her as I do though. Rosario was scared much of the time. She would "meltdown" about once a week. I coached and counseled her. She loved my Tony Robbins philosophies. As a professional athlete, I had trained with the LA Lakers. They gave me a set of Robbins' motivational tapes. One day after talking her down from quitting, we shook hands. We agreed to stand strong together and formed a partnership for FIVE YEARS. We shook hands and made a promise to each other!
Rosario repeatedly told me what she truly admired about me — that I was "fearless." I wasn't. Like her, I get scared at times. Yet I believe we must live courageously. We simply must "hard charge" through life. We laughed about this and in the face of mountainous work and confused managers, we charged forward. We bonded: Together, we can accomplish anything. And, we did. We climbed a difficult mountain together. She was a SolAero Technologies Rock Star; I was a Rock Star in training.
When she received conflicting directives from managers, she would say nothing to them. "You! You do it. You say something," she would plead with me. After we lost our manager, I and others urged her to apply. "No! I can't afford to lose my job. You! You apply!" she urged me instead. When our new manager, Tom, mentioned he wanted to hire a Project Manager for the Syteline migration, I again recommended Rosario apply. She knew the challenges. She is an excellent leader. Again, she refused, "No!!! I do not trust management. I want to stay quiet."
Statistics suggest women are not paid similarly as men for the same work. This is one reason. Women are afraid to apply for higher positions. Second, they are afraid to speak up when they are treated abusively. Rosario is a female, but she is also a Mexican-American woman. She spent her first 18 years of life in Mexico. Their conservative, paternalistic, and Catholic-dominated culture does not empower women. It teaches them to be quiet and reserved. Powerful women do not make history in Mexico. Can you name one?
Thus, I championed my coworker. I stood up to unreasonable managers: "I just threw my computer off the roof, can you fix in in 30 seconds?" My apologies, I would respond. Please submit a ticket. We'll get it fixed ASAP. I wrote internal memos to CEO Brad and COO Jeff. Brad responded one time. "We pay Rosario well. She receives $90,000 plus bonus. SolAero Technologies isn't for everyone." I had simply asked the company to stop beating her up unfairly and reward her for all the extra work they demanded from her. In the chaos, she was shouldering more responsibility than others.
In an IT group meeting with director, Eric Kuecherer, in March 2017, he discussed plans to hire an IT manager for our team. I nominated Rosario. I told our director, "She has the experience; she knows our internal operations; she is respected by all." Eric immediately squashed the idea. He looked glaringly at Rosario and said firmly, "She does not want the position." End.Of.Story! He didn't encourage her. In typical White Male fashion, he dismissed this qualified minority woman and hired another White Male. This is the workplace for women in America.
After my meeting with SolAero Technologies HR director, Silvia Gentile, on October 3rd, she surprisingly attended my next weekly review with my manager, Tom Hensley. Tom criticized and scolded me in the meeting — because I had assisted Rosario. As she is my work partner, this shocked me. "Why are you upset with me?" I asked. Tom said I shouldn't have helped her enter 640 transactions into our production database. Tom added, "Rosario broke it; it's her job to fix it." This was a new directive. Previously, if one of our team "broke" something (made a mistake), we rallied around the team member, gave him or her a hand, and fixed the issue as quickly possible. We would never leave a teammate behind. Tom punished rather than praised. This was his management style. This is how SolAero Technologies treats staff. Rather than pat us on the back for solving a difficult problem, he demanded we get down on our knees and apologize. Some refer to this as "toxic masculinity." The HR director supported his style fully, "Apologize, maggots!"
Tom was disingenuous. Although both Rosario and I had been assigned to work on this Help Desk ticket, neither of us "broke" it. It was Scott Krieder's financial team that had corrupted the database. They had assigned 10,000s of solar cells to Job A. They later changed their minds and assigned the solar cells to Job B — without properly closing Job A. Cells were assigned to two jobs and this confuses the system. Krieder's group had done this numerous times. The IT team had discussed this error with them; we had provided training; yet they continued to forget. Their mistake caused the shipping process to come to a halt. This last SNAFU occurred in late September. The company was approaching their quarter financial reporting deadline; it was also the end of Fiscal Year 2017. The company demanded we correct the financial team's error immediately.
I received the ticket initially. I corrected what I could, but needed to escalate the matter to Rosario to complete the fix. We had a problem with about 8,000 solar cells. Together, we corrected about 7,460 electronically, but the remaining information would have to be entered manually — by hand. Tom said we should have come to him. "Why?" I asked. Because it was a big deal, he responded. We work with 6 million to 60 millions records. To us, 640 was not a big deal. SolAero Technologies also had a system in place to identify "big deal" items. This is called a Critical Ticket. In such cases, we notify the manager and all of us focus on the issue. This ticket wasn't designated critical. Yet the manager was angry with us.
Tom added he would have preferred to have a "Data Entry" team enter the transactions. I looked directly at the HR director after this. "What data entry team?" I asked. We had no data entry team at SolAero Technologies. Tom recently came from Presbyterian Healthcare. They have data entry staff there. Apparently, he was confused. In our group, WE are the data entry team! Silvia Gentile said nothing about his confusion. She simply asked, "What did Rosario say?" Tom answered, "She said she was sorry!" Silvia smiled. She was pleased.
We worked overtime, per our assigned instructions, and both Tom and the female HR directed demanded Rosario say, "I am sorry!"
This is how WOMEN are treated in America. She didn't make the mistake; we didn't have anyone else to help us. She simply did the best she could to resolve a problem created by another group. We took responsibility for the work; we demonstrated initiative to correct the error; and although it was a tedious, tough job, we "Seized the Opportunity Positively" — as the company Rock Star culture demanded. She took about 300; I took about 300. Neither of us made an error. We finished in a couple hours and got the shipment out that day in timely fashion.
Crisis averted. Company saved. Financial position improved. SolAero Technologies management demanded an apology from this woman. This is "toxic masculinity." Neither applauded our efforts. We had followed our training and protocols. Yet both managers abused my senior coworker so harshly she felt coerced to apologize for her professional, accurate and prompt efforts. I didn't apologize. I had nothing for which to apologize. I promised I would never make this mistake again — I lost my job! Times are changing though. Women and workers are Saying No! to unethical and inappropriate behavior. Leeann Tweeden, many others, are standing up today. Leeann's action, as well as action by many other women, is encouraging others.
Leeann Tweeden claimed US Senator Al Franken touched her inappropriately. "I wanted to speak out 11 years ago, but people said, 'You will get annihilated and never have a career again.' And I was afraid of that. But I'm not afraid of that anymore."
"This is happening in Middle America... to women who have no power and say to speak up. I think the tide is turning. But what about all the women who don't have microphones and a voice? What was I gonna do, be the troublemaker? I just sucked it up."
Lindsay Menz, 33, now claims Senator Al Franken "inappropriately touched her in 2010” while posing for a photograph at the Minnesota State Fair. She speaks up today, "If someone sees that I said something, maybe it would give them the courage to say something too."
This action did not protect Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez) when management abused her or treated me unfairly. She did not have a microphone; she knew she did not have a voice. Women in Middle America remain scared. Employers intimidate unprofessionally and Rosario was afraid. She dared not stand up for herself; she dared not stand up for her junior coworker. She had to put her job and her family's security before doing the "right thing" — their action forced her to pull away from me. SolAero Technologies fails to create a workplace where people feel safe and are treated with dignity and respect.
Although SolAero Technologies suffered a "shooter in the workplace" years ago, I considered myself fortunate to be selected to join their IT department of about ten members in a company with close to 250 employees. SolAero Technologies provided specialized, emergency training in case a violent event occurred again. My work performance was excellent, and when hired, their job posting and staff ensured my position would be protected: "Job Security: Inspired to perform well by the knowledge that your job is safe." The emergency training was kind of intimidating, especially knowing SolAero Technologies has 4-5 nuclear reactors and many toxic chemicals on properly. I had been a nuclear engineering major in college so this seemed like a good fit. In addition, SolAero Technologies maintans large stores of precious metals on property, like gold and silver, that are used in the space solar panel manufacturing process. Temperatures in outerspace can change from something like -300 degrees below zero to 300 degree above zero in an instant. Metals and other materials expand and contract greatly under these conditions.
Job security was an important promise by the company, as SolAero Technologies has a bad reputation of cycling through employees. This causes much waste and confusion. Speaking with HR representative, Silvia Gentile, on October 3rd, she confirmed I was an employee in good standing and assured me the company valued my work. "You're not going anywhere," Silvia told me. "It costs us so much to hire, train, as well as fire, any employee. SolAero has no intention of letting you go." Yet on October 19, 2017, the company laid me off, reportedly along with about 15 other employees — one who had been with the company some 18 years. Our general manager had this to say about my assigned partner and I when he left SolAero Technologies in March:
You were a breath of fresh air and appreciated your passion from the first conversation. You and Rosario will continue to do amazing things there. Just stay calm, cool and collected and drive straight through every issue! Let me know if there is ever anything I can do to help you.
A supervisor fowarded these comments:
Chelsea... Jeremy... Gilbert and Maggie were sad when they found out about you.
Another manager with whom I worked closely had this to say:
I am sorry that happened. I am shocked as I thought the project was going well as far as I could tell. I will definitely keep you in mind for future openings. Thanks for your help with everything. I wish you the best.
It is always a pleasure working with you! Thank you for all the encouraging and kind words, we are touched and inspired.
On November 9th, I forwarded a TED Talk, How To Be a Great Leader, to SolAero Technologies CEO, Brad Clevenger; COO, Jeff Lassiter; and HR director, Silvia Gentile. Motivational Speaker, Simon Sinek, told the audience about an enlightened CEO at NYC tech company, Next Jump. Charlie Kim posed a question to his team: "If times were tough, would you consider laying off one of your children?" Of course, we would never do this! "Why then," CEO Kim asks, "do we consider laying off people inside our organization?"
CEO Kim instituted a policy of lifetime employment. If an employee gets a job at Next Jump, they cannot get fired for performance issues. If the employee struggles, they will coach him/her and Next Jump will give the person support. The company coaches the employee — just like parents would coach one of their children who comes home with a C from school. Mr. Sinek argues this is the "complete opposite" from the way companies traditionally behave in America. He adds this is the "reason so many poeple have such a viceral hatred and anger at some of the banking CEOs" due to their disproportionate salaries and bonus structures. "It's not the numbers," Simon claims, "it's that they have violated the very definition of leadership; they have violated this deep-seeded social contract. We know they allowed their people to be sacrificed so they could protect their own interests, or worse, they sacrificed their people to protect their own interest."
SolAero Technologiesnologies claims to be a leading provider of satellite solar power solutions and precision aerospace structures to the global space markets, encompassing a wide array of applications including civil space exploration, science and earth observation, defense intelligence and communication, and commercial telecommunications industries. The business was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. During my tenure, New Mexico's governor, Albuquerque's mayor, and other dignitaries visited the campus. Employment in New Mexico lags the rest of the nation and SolAero Technologies frequently boasts they are hiring — and hiring for coveted "good paying" manufacturing jobs.
Speaking with Kevin Robinson-Avila, Tech Bytes, who writes for the Albuquerque Journal, Business Outlook (8.14.17), CEO Clevenger reported SolAero Technologies invested some $10 million in their Building Two facility at the Sandia Science and Technology Park. SolAero Technologies's investment will add around 80 more employees, although about 15 people had been hired at the time of publication. SolAero proactively promises to hire the remainder early in 2018.
James Damore, a tech employee working for Google, lost his job earlier this year after publishing an internal memo criticizing the company's diversity efforts. Google and many tech firms have come under fire for their employment practices. Damore believes "White Males" are currently suffering reverse discrimination in the workplace. He claims companies like Google have special programs to help advance women and People of Color — but believes White Males are being shortchanged.
SolAero Technologies discriminated against me. Consider this, there were ten employees in our group. Nine were White, one Black. The company wanted us to sit in the same location and put the nine White employees in the large room. They isolated the sole Black employee in the back. Is that fair or legal? What if our group consisted of nine men and one woman. The company put the nine men together and isolated the woman in the back. Would this be fair or legal? Well, I'm a White male. The company forced me to sit alone, isolated from the rest of our small team, in a cold and window-less area. Is this situation fair or legal? Nobody else on the team, including our manager, Tom Hensley, wanted to be isolated in the area. My team partner, Rosario Gonzalez, was so fearful of being isolated in the back that she began lying to me. She's an ethical person overall. Fear of being separated caused her to behave unprofesionally. What does that tell you? In addition, SolAero Technologies organized our IT department into four groups: SysAdmin, .Net Developers, Datawarehouse Analysts and Help Desk. They assigned personnel as follows:
SysAdmin: Louai Alnashef and Neil Davis
.Net Developers: Nathan Holt and Don Shields
Datawarehouse Analysts: Rosario Gonzalez and Me
Help Desk: Cisco Trujillo, Jordan Peretti and Pam Ure
SolAero Technologies didn't plan well for the IT team's location. When I arrived in 2016, the group was scattered throughout Building One. I was initially stationed with the Help Desk team. The company moved us in December to accommodate a weld training project. They needed the area for NASA trainers, but didn't have space for us. We ended up in temporary assignments.
Cisco and Jordan ended up in the cold, isolated area where I would later be assigned. They hated it. And, it was terrible. I submitted the two for SolAero Technologies "Rock Star" nominations due to their positive and professional response to the difficult situation. SolAero Technologies officially recognized both of them due to my letter. I copied our IT director, Eric Kuecherer, in California. He seemed unaware of the difficulties.
Happy New Year's Eve Maggie and Meghan,
I want to thank both of you for all the work you have done to improve culture, morale and staff relations here at Solaero. I'm now fortunate to have been with this exceptional group of talented people for about six weeks. I'm extremely proud to be part of the team and grateful for the opportunity to work and learn with such respected professionals. I know 2017 is going to be amazing for all of us!!!
On Watt's Up, you offered staff the opportunity to improve our Corporate Culture. As Solaero is highly successful, there aren't many negative issues, yet we know there's always room to motivate ourselves to higher levels of performance. I would like to submit a couple employees for recognition: Cisco Trujillo and Jordan Peretti. I observed them performing above and beyond their general job duties to ensure other Solaero groups could be more productive and happy. As you remember, Cisco, Jordan and the Help Desk crew were located in the area NASA now uses for the weld training. About December 12th, those of us in the area received a request to vacate by December 23rd. This was a major task due to all the technical equipment IT helpdesk maintains. Yet Cisco didn’t procrastinate. He organized his team to move immediately. Working with other volunteers from the company, we were able to fully vacate about ten days early. This gave the remodeling crew more time to prepare for NASA. Although the new IT location was not ready, there was no complaining or foot dragging. This group simply met the challenge with positive energy. I've included a picture showing conditions post move. It was simply overwhelming. And, since that time, Cisco and Jordan have worked tirelessly to professionally store and organize the massive amount of equipment, while continuing to provide high level support to the rest of us.
As a new member of the Solaero team, this is the spirit that makes this company great. When facing obstacles and challenges, this team simply exceeded all expectations — and did so in a positive, cheerful manner. Such behavior is infectious. Positive action leads to positive reactions and positive reactions lead to greater positive action. As we end a tumultuous 2016 and open a new year, I hope we can recognize these examples of positive performance and encourage all of us at Solaero to continue striving to "be the best we can be."
Thank you, Maggie and Meghan, for your leadership; thanks to Cisco and Jordan for implementing Solaero's winning values!
Due to Cisco's and Jordan's frustration, the company moved them to a new location and put Don Shields, Nathan Holt and me in the uncomfortable area. I had asked my IT director not to move me. He denied my request. Don and Nathan were furious. The area was crowded, cold, dark and isolated. I sent a picture of the arrangement to IT director, Eric Kuecherer, CEO Brad Clevenger, and COO Jeff Lassiter. By the end of the day, they moved Nathan to an office. They required Don to remain in the area with me. Don was extremely upset. They promised to move him as soon as possible. They made no promises to me.
By late June, some six months after my first move, SolAero Technologies finally began work to construct the next seating arrangement. Management was tremendously disorganized and the team suffered in the temporary and unsuitable location. Our new manager put the SysAdmin team (Louai Alnashef and Neil Davis) together; put the .Net Developer team (Nathan Holt and Don Shields) together; and placed the HelpDesk team (Cisco Trujillo, Jordan Peretti and Pam Ure) together. Rosario had been in an office and I had been in the unwanted area. We constituted the Datawarehouse team, but Tom didn't put us together.
Rosario wanted to remain in her office — initially I had been concerned about high traffic in the small space due to the number of visitors we both received. This angered Rosario. She didn't want to leave the office and my comments led our manager, Tom Hensley, to kick her out. As a result of her frustration, I officially asked Manager Tom to keep us there. He denied my request. He assigned Rosario to a bank of cubicles and kept me in the undesirable location. I made a second request and asked him to put both Rosario and I in the isolated area. He denied this request saying Rosario didn't like the dark and cold.
Rosario immediately rebelled. She moved from the IT area into a vacant cubicle in Building Two. I wanted to join her but there were no more spots. She remained there for about two weeks until Manager Tom ordered her to return to the IT area in Building One. He demanded she sit in bank of cubicles in a high traffic area. It was noisy and disruptive. She wasn't happy. She was angry and directed much of her frustration toward me.
The other three groups in our IT department sat next to each other. This allowed them to share information and continue their training. This made operational sense. SolAero Technologies, on the other hand, separated Rosario and me. For all the same reasons, it made our work more difficult and strained our relationship. After trying the arrangement for a couple months, I asked Manager Tom about reassigning us. I suggested relocating Rosario to the isolated area with me. He refused.
Finally, I forcefully asked him why. "She doesn't like the cold, dark, window-less environment back there," he said. I responded, "But it's okay for me, a male, to suffer those conditions." I reminded him I asked not to be assigned there. I reminded him nobody wanted to be assigned there. Manager Tom didn't want to be there. He could have accepted the burden. IT Director Eric could have used the area when he visited once a month. Yet Eric disliked the area so much he used a vacant desk in another building.
Managers didn't want to be stationed there. The Syrian Muslim didn't want to be back there; SolAero Technologies granted his request. The African American didn't want isolated there; SolAero Technologies granted his request. Hispanic members didn't want to be isolated there; SolAero Technologies granted their requests. Female staff didn't want to be isolated there; SolAero Technologies granted their request. Anyone with senority didn't want to be isolated there; SolAero Technologies granted their request.
Besides being isolated, it was freezing back there. HR director, Silvia Gentile, scolded SolAero Technologies employees in spring 2017 for being improperly dressed. She reminded us the SolAero Technologies dress code calls for "Business Casual." Silvia has a nice and spacious office in Building Two. She wears attractive dresses, cute shoes and fun fashions. I wish she would try sitting with me. She would be chilled to the bone in her "business casual" attire. I had to wear sweats and a heavy jacket while at work. I kept my business clothes hanging next to my cubicle. I would change for meetings or important sessions. It was simply too cold to dress more formally in that climate.
I'm not perfect. None of us are, but I am committed to developing strong teams where I work. Recognizing excellence in others is my preferred behavior. I nominated a number of coworkers in my first year. Coincidentally, after meeting with HR Director, Silvia Gentile, in the morning of October 3rd, I took time during lunch to recommend a coworker, Jill Courtney. She had done an excellent job helping us correct errors made by Scott Krieder's financial team. This is how teamwork works. Humans make errors. We pull together to fix the issue. We do this with a smile and professional action. Our communication director, Maggie Smith, responded to my requests on October 9th. I had submitted an IT coworker, Pamela Ure, for a Rock Star award as well. Pam brought some delicious sausage links to a team building, "burrito breakfast" (pictured below). She kicked off the Halloween spirit by coming in early to decorate our office area. Both Jill and Pam would be recognized! How cool is that? Sadly, unbeknownst to me, while I was lifting up my coworkers, SolAero Technologies was processing paperwork to terminate me.
From: Maggie Smith
Sent: Monday, October 9, 2017 12:53 PM
Subject: RE: Rock Star nomination
We will be recognizing Jill this week as a Rock Star and then Pam in a few weeks. Thanks for the nomination!
Marketing Communications Manager
Sent: Tuesday, October 03, 2017 12:32 PM
To: Maggie Smith
Cc: Brad Clevenger; Jeff Lassiter
Subject: Rock Star nomination
Good afternoon Maggie,
I would like to nominate Jill Courtney for Rock Star recognition. As we all know, she is fun, positive and pleasant in her work, which builds team spirit. Like most of us, she geeks out on the science. She's warm and encouraging to others and creates constructive relationships. When challenged, no complaints from her. She seizes opportunities positively. Most importantly, as we approached the recent quarterly and fiscal year deadline, she had the energy and enthusiasm to ensure We Got It Done! We did. We shipped tens of thousands of products – without a snag and on time – due primarily to Jill's leadership and effort.
Her work these past couple weeks has truly been amazing. Rosario initially assigned me to manage a project with the Shipping team months ago. As a company, we go through many steps from start to finish to get products out the door. Shipping isn't sexy or seemingly important. It's a minor step in the process, but if this step breaks down, SolAero misses a deadline and all the work is lost.
Focusing on this step, we discovered a pattern of activity that leads the process to collapse. I was able to meet with principals and we created a plan. Rather than wait for a problem to arise, Jill helped us get ahead of operations. She uncovered discrepancies in the tracking system that allowed us to correct the mismatch before the shipping process caught up. And, when we needed to fulfill shipping orders late last week to meet the quarterly deadline, the system responded without error.
Jill's work was critical to SolAero's success. She's a total Rock Star!
SolAero Technologies assigned me to lead the DataLyzer project for the IT group. Prior to my arrival, this effort had become a battleground across the company. IT management felt they were too understaffed to support the engineers. On their own, the engineering team built an inefficient system and was tremendously frustrated. Working together professionally, we did it! The system we created was a model of excellence. The personal bonds we developed represent the best of human existence. CEO Brad complimented me for my submission. He teased me for creatively modifying a controversial Rock Star principle, "Gets Shit Done." Although this was one of the stated SolAero Technologies goals, many in the company felt the use of "shit" reflected poorly on our character. I modified this to, "GOT IT DONE !!!"
From: Brad Clevenger
Sent: Wednesday, June 21, 2017 8:29 AM
Subject: RE: Rock Stars Nominations
Thanks, XXXXX. Nice note. Great use of the core values (while keeping it clean ;)
My calendar has filled up today and tomorrow, but let's shoot for Friday to catch up if you still want to chat.
Sent: Wednesday, June 21, 2017 8:22 AM
To: Chelsea Mackos; David L Torres; Samantha Cruz; Jeremy Moore; Kenneth Cordova; Robert Nolan; Paul Roland; Paul Trujillo; Steven Howard; Jacob Gutierrez-Kolar; Roger Esra; Tyler Braaten; Randall Arnold; Ashok Sedhain; Gilbert Ramirez; Nathaniel Miller; Claudia Struempel; Steven Whipple; Christopher Kerestes; Jeff Steinfeldt; Karen De Zetter; Lars Tomasson; Larry Cisneros; Benjamin Johnson; Consuelo Wells; Erik Watson; Louai Alnashef; Neil Davis; Francisco Trujillo; Jordan Peretti; Pamela Ure
Cc: Maggie Smith; Meghan Smith
Bcc: Brad Clevenger; Jeff Lassiter
Subject: Rock Stars Nominations
Good morning Maggie and Meghan,
I would like to nominate the SolAero TEAM listed above (see the TO email line) for their Rock Star efforts as we migrated the DataLyzer application to a permanent, production-level home — on our new server, NMABQSPC01. Chelsea and I finalized our review late yesterday afternoon. Mission Successfully Accomplished !!!
DataLyzer is the hub of the company's SPC, Statistical Process Control, program that guides our engineering and quality control teams to ensure SolAero products and processes are efficient and reliable. A motivated engineer initiated this fledgling program years ago by hosting the application on a server under his desk. His trial demonstrated the efficacy of the SPC program and DataLyzer now serves as a core analysis tool for our manufacturing process.
This collaboration was led by engineers, Jeremy Moore and Samantha Cruz; guided by managers, Chelsea Mackos and Bob Nolan; and supported by dozens of operators and engineering staff. We acknowledge also Louai Alnashef and Neil Davis, IT system administrators, who designed the server environment; Cisco Trujillo, Jordan Peretti, and Pamela Ure, IT Help Desk, who updated fab computers.
This team Seized the Opportunity Positively ... Built Team Spirit ... Created Constructive Relationships ... Geeked Out on the Science ... and, bottom line, GOT IT DONE !!!
Thanks to all for the professional efforts.
As most of us are aware, obesity is an epidemic in America. The United States has the greatest number of obese adults, with 79.4 million (35% of the population), followed by China with 57.3 million. "We need to control the consequences of obesity much better globally ... and help people who are obese to lose weight," urged Goodarz Danaei, assistant professor for global health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. SolAero Technologies was trying. They created a "Biggest Loser" program at the company. And, they put their money behind their efforts. They partnered with the Health, Exercise & Sports Sciences at the University of New Mexico to offer SolAero Technologies employees free body composition tests. This is superior to stepping on a scale, as a scale can't determine if the person has added (or lost) more muscle weight than fat weight.
Using body composition testing, the individual can accurately track their progress. SolAero Technologies paid any employee who participated in the program $100 for each One Percent of body fat reduction. Some people took home $1,000s of dollars. At the end of the most recent six-month session, COO Jeff Lassiter announced SolAero Technologies paid over $15,000 directly to employees — at a cost of more than $30,000 to the company, as they paid taxes for employees. This was SolAero Technologies at their best — when they truly cared about their employees.
I have a background in health research. One of the troublesome concerns in America is the amount of time employees spend sitting at their desks. Studies, such as one published online in Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded adults who sit for one to two hours at a time without moving have a higher mortality rate than adults who accrue the same amount of sedentary time in shorter bouts. At SolAero Technologies, engineers and IT professionals frequently need to sit for extended periods. "So if you have a job or lifestyle where you have to sit for prolonged periods of time, we suggest taking a movement break every half hour. This one behavior change could reduce your risk of death, although we don't yet know precisely how much activity is optimal," said Keith Diaz, PhD, associate research scientist in the Department of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and lead investigator of the study.
I had different results. Participating in the program, I did my best to move ever thirty minutes or so, but ultimately, I spent 8-10 hours per day at my desk. I exercised 6-7 days per week for about ninety minutes. This included cardio as well as weight training. Further, I maintained a disciplined diet of limited lean proteins, whole grain breads, and ample quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables. To the constant objection of my worker, Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez), I refused to eat sugars at work. She is highly addicted to chocolate and encourages coworkers playfully to treat her to sweet treats whenever they wish.
My efforts were not working. As a professional athlete, UNM tested me a number of times and I averaged about 6 percent body fat. Years later as a professional software developer, my first body composition test pegged me at 18 percent body fat. This is a healthy profile, but I wanted to lean down a bit — and hoped to win some money. Nothing worked. Subsequent tests showed me edging upward, not down. I was slowly losing muscle and gaining fat. Then, I went on vacation. I ate more and consumed more fatty, greasy food, yet I was active all day. I'm a good surfer and spent at least two hours per day battling and playing in big surf. This exhausted me. In just two weeks I reversed the negative damage I had done to my body in a sedentary work environment for over five months. Vacation got me in shape!
This is something ALL Americans want — and need — to hear. "Give us more vacation!" And, as a nation, we take too little vacation. SolAero Technologies rewarded me with over $300 for my success. When SolAero Technologies fired me, they destroyed the scientific Case Study I was developing for the company in collaboration with the university. Just another loss to America due to the confusion and chaos at SolAero Technologies!
From: Christine Mermier, University of New Mexico
Sent: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 9:54 AM
To: SolAero Technologies Employee
Cc: Kelli King
Subject: Your underwater weighing results
Hi XXXXXX — Kelli King forwarded me your email about your concerns regarding your latest results of the body fat testing you had done here. I am her supervisor, so she thought it best for me to respond. It appears that the first test results were incorrect as there was a data entry error. I have attached your results with all three tests included. I really apologize for this error. I double checked all of the other original data sheets and the rest of your data was entered correctly.
As for your ideas about the body composition changes since your testing when you were younger, besides the factors you mentioned, perhaps you are not eating adequate amounts of food, which can cause your metabolism to slow. There is not a way of knowing for sure without talking with a dietician, and/or doing another test here which measures your resting metabolic rate. Your other theory about decreasing testosterone is also a possibility, as unfortunately, as we age the levels of sex hormones and others, such as growth hormone, do decrease making it harder to maintain muscle mass and decrease body fat.
I hope this addresses your doubts, if not, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Dr. Christine Mermier
Christine Mermier, Ph.D.
Lab Director & Associate Professor
Exercise Physiology Lab
Health, Exercise & Sports Sciences
Johnson Center B143 MSC04 2610
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
My senior coworker, Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez), and I had a phenomenal relationship to this point. When Manager Tom announced he was forcing her to leave her office, she blamed me. More accurately, she was furious with me. It brought me to tears when I told the HR director about her frustration with me over the office incident. Had Manager Tom simply allowed her to remain, I believe I would still be working with the company. This fractured our relationship. As a Mexican American female in the male-dominated world of IT, she was not comfortable speaking up for herself. She maintained a passive aggressive posture — she was mad at me and the situation but would not express her frustration to management. Rosario is smart. Speaking up costs employees their jobs!
SolAero Technologies went through many changes in the year I worked there. I had four different supervisors. They moved us around disruptively — putting me in five different assignment locations. I ended up isolated from the group. As a new employee, this was extremely frustrating. I had much to learn, and divided, it was hard to continue growing. Without my senior coworker, I was lost. Feelings of desperation and despair grew inside me daily. Isolation from any group can lead to serious psychological effects.
Researchers have found little to suggest that extreme isolation is good for the psyche. In one notorious study from the 1950s, University of Wisconsin psychologist Harry Harlow placed rhesus monkeys inside a custom-designed solitary chamber nicknamed "the pit of despair." Shaped like an inverted pyramid, the chamber had slippery sides that made climbing out all but impossible. After a day or two, Harlow wrote, "most subjects typically assume a hunched position in a corner of the bottom of the apparatus. One might presume at this point that they find their situation to be hopeless." Harlow also found that monkeys kept in isolation wound up "profoundly disturbed, given to staring blankly and rocking in place for long periods, circling their cages repetitively, and mutilating themselves." Most readjusted eventually, but not those that had been caged the longest. "Twelve months of isolation almost obliterated the animals socially," Harlow found.
Stuart Grassian, a board-certified psychiatrist and a former faculty member at Harvard Medical School, has interviewed hundreds of prisoners in solitary confinement. In one study, he found that roughly a third of solitary inmates were "actively psychotic and/or acutely suicidal." Grassian has since concluded that solitary can cause a specific psychiatric syndrome, characterized by hallucinations; panic attacks; overt paranoia; diminished impulse control; hypersensitivity to external stimuli; and difficulties with thinking, concentration and memory. Some inmates lose the ability to maintain a state of alertness, while others develop crippling obsessions.
November 20, 2017: Current, full-time employee writes, SolAero Technologies, "Not the Best"
Management has poor emotional intelligence. Many of them got their positions due to a small clique of people who are friends, without outside competition. Don't expect to get anywhere other then the job you get when you go there. They had a recent RIF due to lost business, and that's not going to get better. They keep taking work to keep the lights on and haven't figured out how to reduce cost. They rearranged the company about a year ago and gave up on their R&D focus which in their business spells certain doom in the future. If you need a job now, then take it and look elsewhere depending on your goals. Document your interactions with management, and don't trust them. If you remember nothing else, remember this: it is a place where people have worked, but not a place where people retire from, and this fact speaks volumes about the management.
Advice to Management
Deal with problems head on instead of being evasive and conflict averse. Do an honest job of hiring outside of your little clique. Stop giving yourselves more titles and money while you RIF and fire others to cover up some of your own incompetence.
November 7, 2017: Five-year, full-time employee writes, "If you are looking for a job, do not apply here."
Management just completed another reduction in force (RIF). There have been two or more per year for the last three years. I am not sure how management thinks this will improve the company. It just increases the work load for the remaining employees, which reduces the morale. If a RIF actually benefits the company and helps reach the company goals, why do they keep having them? Does management have the ability to truly find the problem(s) and correct them? It has not been my experience while I have been here. As soon as a few issues are taken care of, I will be leaving this company.
Advice to Management
It appears you cannot make a decision and stick with it. The direction of the company seems to change weekly. Please stop playing favorites, there are a great deal of other employees who do an outstanding job and go unnoticed or recognized by management.
September 21, 2017: Former full-time employee writes, "Worst Experience of my Career"
Executive Management thinks only of themselves collecting 6 figure bonuses while at the same time laying off employees to cut costs placing a burden on the employees still within the company.
Lots of false finger pointing by executive management to save their own jobs and bonuses.
Many employees are retained although incompetent due to being in bed with the executive management. Also, bonus distribution is not based on an unbiased calculation. It is distributed based on how often you attend happy hours with the executive management.
Advice to Management
Get rid of the overpriced, over arrogant, loud COO (Jeff Lassiter) which is only draining the company of valuable cash resources due to his lack of knowledge and stupidity
Today, if one wants to review and assess the health of any company, a good place to start is their IT department. IT is the freeway of any organization — even your home. Your IT system opens your life to cable TV, WiFI connections, music, security and many conveniences. For most people, they don't think about IT — until it breaks. Then, they start screaming! That's where people like me come in. I'm part of the Geek Squad.
When I arrived at SolAero Technologies in November 2016, the IT department was in chaos. Director, Eric Kuecherer, is a talented, smart guy who is stationed in California. He had no direct knowledge of what was happening in the Albuquerque facility. He supervised about four people. SolAero Technologies also had an IT manager in Albuquerque. He directed another group of about four people. The two managers didn't appear to work well together. There was noticeable tension and infighting. A couple weeks after starting my job, my hiring manager, who had been with company for over five years, submitted his resignation. It was clear he loved the mission at SolAero Technologies; he simply couldn't stand senior management's confusion at SolAero Technologies. The company spent millions training this guy and all this "institutional knowledge" walked out the door. How shortsighted is this?
Senior Management Confusion (SMC) at SolAero Technologies costs the company money. It also cost good, highly trained personnel their jobs. SMC at SolAero Technologies hurts families. SMC hurts the local economy. Yet confused senior managers keep their jobs — while sending others down the road. The hubris from senior management at SolAero Technologies is dangerous. The public is always the last to know because senior managers FORCE others to remain silent either through fear tactics or simply by buying their silence. They've tried both with me.
Speaking with the Albuquerque Journal, CEO Brad Clevenger reported, "The company's robust solar cells, engineered to withstand some of the harshest conditions in space, have powered NASA missions to the moon, Mars and Mercury. Next year, its technology will help take NASA's Parker Solar Probe on a first-ever voyage to the sun's outer atmosphere ... SolAero's photovoltaic panels will also help carry NASA's Europa Clipper on its forthcoming journey to Jupiter's Europa moon to study whether conditions there are suitable for life ... We’ve supported more than 40 NASA missions to date. More than not, the missions people hear about on the news are powered by us ... scores of satellites now orbiting Earth for everything from defense and telecommunications to science and Earth observation are also powered by SolAero. Its technology is attached to more than 185 satellites and interplanetary spacecraft."
This is YOUR tax dollars at work. Whether scientific or defense, SolAero Technologies is a key player in our collective projects. When they waste money, they are wasting YOUR money. When they destroy talent, they are wasting YOUR money. CEO Brad concluded, "SolAero formed in 2014, after the New York-based private equity firm Veritas Capital paid $150 million to buy out Emcore Corp's solar space division, which that company launched in Albuquerque in 1998. SolAero reported $71 million in revenue in 2016."
What the CEO failed to report is revenue in 2016 was down from 2015. As Brad told me in person around February 2017, SolAero Technologies products were losing their competitive advantage and competition was fierce. Poor management, confused management, could lead Albuquerque's "Diamond in the Rough" company to shutter their doors. Veritas Capital now looks to sell or pull out their financial support. Investors and potential employees need to know about the tremendous confusion inside SolAero Technologies.
Imagining accepting a new job only to learn you didn't have a manager. That was my life in December 2016. SolAero Technologies stuck me in a dark cubible. I had no assignment or mission. I was a "Forgotten Man." Yet the company and IT department desperately needed help. There was simpy nobody to direct me. This is when I huddled up with my coworker, Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez). She was the advanced Data Warehouse analyst. SolAero Technologies hired me to be her understudy. The IT department put all their staff in teams of two or three. This allowed for training, as well as coverage in case people were out of the office or on vacation. This is wise management.
Rosario told me she was overwhelmed. She threatened to quit constantly. I learned she was a brilliant talent, but didn't like pressure. I could take the stress of multiple managers with different and competing demands so I began running interference for our team. This is usually what a manager does — and the group wanted a manager to help control the constant and competing demands. It was chaos! In this vacuum, I stepped up to fill the void. Within weeks, Rosario urged me to apply for the IT manager's position. Two problems: First, SolAero Technologies wasn't looking to replace the manager. They had no idea the level of frustration — or they simply didn't care. I thought it was a bit of both. Second, I didn't feel qualified to lead an IT group since I just started. I recommened Rosario fill such a role.
In mid-February 2017, our production server system collapsed. SolAero Technologies collects data from machines and tools on Server15 and immediately duplicates this information to Server14 in a process called replication. Engineers use the second server to analyze the data. The two are separate to prevent conflicts and data flow interruptions. Without this system, the "fab" processes shut down and work stopped. Solar cells could not be manufactured in a collapsed system environment. The IT group and company sufferd a CF, in military terms, a Charlie Foxtrot. In layman's terms, it was a "cluster fuck."
Rosario took the lead. I worked by her side. Others assisted where they could. That weekend I wrote to CEO Brad. I titled my memo, "The Three Cs of Leadership: Command, Control and Communication." The company's process failed all three. For example, the IT director in California was one of the last to know about the failure. Everyone forgot to call or email him. Our ad hoc team demonstrated some proficiency, but we didn't have formal authority to manage this IT disaster effectively or efficiently. Brad said he loved my memo and work. He told me I was the BOLD leader SolAero Technologies needed. His words inspired me and I pushed forward to continue pulling our group together. Months later he fired me! Total chaos and confusion.
Morale in the IT department was low. Company frustration with IT was high. Engineers, financial staff and managers would submit a "ticket" through the IT Help Desk and none had confidence their request would be resolved. The small IT group was overwhelmed with competing demands. My first assignment was to support the DataLyzer program. Engineers needed these SPC (Statistical Process Control) tools. SolAero Technologies builds solar cells. SPC tools determine if the cells have been manufactured properly. Without these tools, the company could make 1,000s of "bad" cells without realizing their mistake, which would waste hundreds of thousands of dollars. When the engineers first asked for IT help, management told them no. "We do not have the staff to assist and support this program," they said.
This is an example of confused senior management. They allowed second or third tier managers to direct company policy. These managers made decisions based on their myopic departmental view. They couldn't see the "big picture." Senior managers perform this function. They were negligent and missing.
As a result, the engineering team build the SPC system on a server they stationed under one of their desks. Their programming was awkward and clumsy. Their flow of data was overly complex and inefficient. It was destined to be a "garbage in/garbage out" process. When I first met with the group, they quickly and loudly told me how angry they were with the IT department for failing to support their program. I told them I was now a full-time resource, but they didn't trust this. Months later, I redesigned and rebuilt the SPC system and the engineering team became our biggest fans. This was company "rock star" performance — rather than an award or recognition, they terminated me!
Agile Process and Syteline8 Migration
SolAero Technologies invested heavily in the Agile Project Management system. This process is a "value-driven approach that allows Project Managers to deliver high-priority, high-quality work and look like rock stars to their stakeholders." Rosario frequently served as the Agile "ScrumMaster" and the team asked me to support her mission. In this role, we worked to "guide the team to prioritize their tasks and removes impediments to handling their tasks." After a short time, I made a major discovery.
The Agile process works well — if the team is properly directed. In this case, it was not. For example, let's say the mission of the Agile Team was to build a house for you. Each morning the ScrumMaster hosts a session with project managers. They prioritze their tasks and work through obstacles. Without proper direction, it's easy for the team to focus on the wrong mission. Using the house example, I discovered the team had forgotten about building the house and were instead focused on building a swimming pool. Their work was efficient and effective — but they had lost sight of the company mission.
The first time I met new company COO, Jeff Lassiter, he boasted about the progress of the Agile team. He was highly complimentary and praised the members. COO Jeff told us his managerial philosophy, "We hire you to fill shoes two sizes too big. We don't expect you to know; SolAero Technologies will assist you to grow." Staff loved this! He directed us to watch a TED talk about an enlightened submarine commander. He briefly described how, "David Marquet led a distinguished career in the US Submarine Force, culminating in command of the nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine USS Santa Fe. In command of Santa Fe, Captain Marquet completely turned around the submarine, which went from being 'worst to first.'"
When COO Jeff asked for questions or comments, I raised my hand. "Do you realize we must leave the Syteline8 platform and migrate to Syteline9?" No, Jeff was not aware. "Do you realize all the work and effort by the Agile team is worthless? In fact, it's worse than worthless. We are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and we will soon have to throw this away and be forced to rebuild the work in the Syteline9 framework." No, Jeff and senior managers were not aware! That's why I'm the "big picture" guy. I was new and had asked probing questions. SolAero Technologies was not on the right track. I was doing exactly what the company had hired me to do:
COO Jeff told us he was a leader focused on serving others. This is bullshit. Great leaders who "serve others" do not quickly and easily terminate their employment. That's not serving. I wrote many emails to both Brad and Jeff asking for help. They didn't respond. Their silence was deafening and this forced me to post my comments publicly. CEO Brad claimed he wanted BOLD employees who sought alternative solutions that are "out of the box;" who challenged the status quo and "the way we have always done it." Yes! That's what I did — successfully. My work was undisputedly excellent. My dedication and commitment was positive and consistent. SolAero Technologies's general manager sent me a complimentary response and copied senior managers:
From: Jerry Winton, SolAero Technologies General Manager
Sent: Sunday, February 12, 2017 1:50 PM
To: SolAero Technologies Employee
Cc: Brad Clevenger (CEO); Jeff Lassiter (COO); Phyllis Sullivan (CFO); Eric Kuecherer (IT Director); Rosario Gonzalez (supervisor)
Subject: RE: Draft LogicData Report
Nice write-up, thank you. Clearly some low hanging fruit to address and it is nice to identify areas the Help Desk can support!
If you don’t already know, SL8 was developed and configured by Emcore prior to SolAero go-live back in Feb 2015. The largest concern then and now with SL9 are the Emcore modifications (the method used to develop and the lack of documentation) as well as our MES and 3rd party application interfaces. If memory serves correctly there were 80+ modifications and many "AA" forms created. LogicData has previously provided us with scripts to run and identify, but unfortunately the location of the work product is unknown so we will need to do this again. We are also seeing signs we may have issues with how our 3rd party apps / WW interfaces were migrated that is not allowing SL8 to function correctly (ex: Containers, Pick / Pack / Ship). Need some fresh eyes on this problem as we look to sunset Mesa / WW.
vOnce the Emcore modifications are identified, is there a way we can query them (whether stored procedures, forms, reports, etc) and note the last time they were accessed or run? This would certainly be valuable information as the desire is to remove as many as we can in the SL9 transition. The only "mod" we have made recently is the EMPS / EAC effort developed by SolAero / LogicData with SL9 in mind. SL8 is a very configurable system that we are leveraging for event messengers, UDF, dataviews, critical #s, etc. The business is usually good at defining the what, we just need help on the how. If we learn the need to course correct the 'how', we will certainly support that.
The immediate concern I understand is the available RAM, which is impacting performance and posing risk to growth. As you note in Appendix 3 we have a few options to temporarily address IF we choose to kick the SL9 can down the road. I'm certain the IT team could guide the best option.
In less than a year, I saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars. I sounded the alarm before ALL the other higher paid and more experienced staff and managers. Our IT director in California said nothing. The guy likely makes around $250,000 per year. Some people, such as Maria Rosario Gonzalez (Velasquez), knew about the issue. CEO Brad told me they pay her some $90,000 plus bonus. She and others were afraid to say anything. Just as victims in the #MeToo movement believed, it is generally best to lay low and not speak up. Yes, Rosario kept her mouth shut. Instead, she was smart: she urged me to speak out. Now, she has a job and I do not. Most people live in fear. This is why many companies and our nation suffer. We are not bubbling up good information and ideas. As a people, we must create "safe" conditions in schools for our children; "safe" communities for our families; and "safe" workplaces for our talented employees. We are failing as a society. FDR said famously, "There is nothing to fear but fear itself" — yet fear is winning in America.
Ultimately, my work helped steer the company back to its core mission; it improved efficiency and effectiveness; it assisted to create stronger teams. SolAero Technologies builds solar cells up to solar panels. Yet project managers were spending more time perfecting the company's ERP software than improving solar cell technology. Smart leaders know software supports the company mission. At SolAero Technologies, the mission had become the software. Brad, Jeff and HR director, Silvia Gentile, assured me my job was safe and that I was the type of employee SolAero Technologies needed ... yet I'm in the LONG unemployment line. My salary was about $72,500. The company invested at least double this amount in me and my responsibilities were "mission critical." Someone would be required to pick up the slack and nobody on our team had spare time. My loss is the IT department's loss and the company's loss. Terminating me made no sense from a business perspective. It simply added to the chaos and confusion at SolAero Technologies. To this day, I have no idea why I'm out of work. Senior managers looked me in the eye; shook my hand; and asked me to trust them. I did. They lied and deceived me. I assume they're doing the same to other SolAero Technologies staff, prospective employees, and investors.
Beware those who live by deception!