In the second of a three-part series, Dexis shares stories from staff who think critically and embrace big challenges, all while embodying the Dexis values of ingenuity, integrity, and investment in people.
As she approaches her seventh anniversary at Dexis, Idra Pavin, Deputy Manager of Recruitment at Dexis, reflects on her career growth at the company and the corporate culture that keeps her engaged and motivated.
After earning her undergraduate degree in English literature with a concentration in playwriting, then pursuing a graduate degree in medieval German literature, Idra wasn’t completely certain where to take her career. But with a mother who spent her career stationed overseas working for the State Department and an aunt working at USAID, international development was always on her mind as a potential path.
When an opportunity at Dexis arrived in the form of a client-centered management systems specialist, (called Quality Management System or QMS Administrator), Idra applied. “I had no clue what that was. Even after I interviewed for it, I still had no clue. I spent my first three weeks at Dexis struggling to figure out what I had been hired to do.”
Idra recalls feeling like an imposter during those early months with Dexis. Though she had relevant skills in knowledge management, training, and developing standard operating procedures, she grappled with trying to figure out what she needed to be doing—and what, exactly, she had said during her interview to make the company think she was qualified to do it.
“Only in hindsight did I realize this is just what Dexis does,” she reflects. “There’s a lot of trust and responsibility placed in early career professionals – even interns. And it can be scary and intimidating, but it’s also incredibly gratifying knowing what that trust means and finding yourself able to meet the challenge.”
After successfully getting Dexis through its external audit of project management excellence (known as ISO 9001:2015 certification audit), Idra wanted to explore other opportunities within the company. “I found that I really enjoyed knowledge management, but my work experience prior to Dexis also had me considering a career in human resources.” When an opening for a human resources specialist became available, she applied and was accepted, though she continued to support the management systems functions, as well. As the management systems team grew, Idra carved out her niche, focusing on handling internal communications and developing trainings for that team. “Nobody told me to take that on; I thought we needed more communications going out to the company to get them excited about management systems, so I volunteered myself to do just that.”
The next big leap in her Dexis career came a year later, when a casual conversation translated into a career move. “Somehow, me asking the new head of recruitment if I could do more to support recruitment functions turned into me being a full-time recruiter in a matter of weeks!” she laughs. As with her job as management systems specialist, Idra was thrown into the deep end with recruitment. This time, however, she felt more prepared for it; her professional confidence had grown during her time at the company. She looked to the mentorship of her colleagues and the new director and pursued external training opportunities using Dexis’ professional development budget.
As she had with her management systems specialist work, Idra began “to carve out [her] own communications and knowledge management fiefdom within the recruitment kingdom.” She led the development of recruitment-related trainings, infographics, and templates, and built out a SharePoint hub site to house those resources for both the recruitment team and Dexis at large. As she points out, “everyone’s a recruiter at Dexis, regardless of their job title.”
She also edits a monthly internal Recruitment Digest newsletter, which is “all kinds of fun. I get a lot of autonomy to be a little wacky.” Case in point: When the Recruitment team decided to move to a new applicant tracking system, she released a Recruitment Digest themed around The Bachelorette (“we have a lot of trashy reality TV fans here,” she says), pitching the process as a competition and wondering which new recruitment database would win the final rose. The Digest has proven to be a great vehicle for Idra to “foist [her] geekery” onto the wider Dexis public and references to musical theater, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, and Parks and Recreation also abound. “It’s very on-brand for Dexis, though” she remarks. “As my supervisor says, we take our work seriously but not ourselves too seriously.”
Idra also appreciates that, as the company has grown, its founder and CEO has been very conscientious about keeping the culture employee-first and people-centric. “Quarterly events like the State of the Union, a ritual that Mihir (founder/CEO) started years ago, and DeXchange promote opportunities for individuals to meet and understand what staff across the company are working on. Transparency from senior leadership is valued and practiced by all company leaders. Dexis has a strong ethos around knowledge management and learning from its mistakes. “When things go wrong, it’s not about placing blame or pointing fingers; it’s about discussing how our systems and processes and communications can be improved for next time,” Idra explains.
In addition, the work of project support teams to connect with project delivery teams do not go unnoticed. “It’s extremely gratifying for me, as a recruiter, when I speak with staff who have left Dexis to work with other federal contractors and now want to come back to Dexis. When I ask them why, they always talk about culture. This stuff matters.”
Her advice to newcomers and old-timers, alike: “If any of this sounds like you, if you want to find out what you’re capable of, don’t hesitate. It’s your turn, now. Batter up.”
Idra Pavin joined Dexis seven years ago with the management systems team, then joined the HR team, and is currently Deputy Manager of Recruitment at Dexis. Idra has a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and a graduate degree in medieval German literature.