Carla Fickett is a configuration manager with TKC Global. She has been with the Akima family of companies for two years.
Small-town girl Carla Fickett dreamed of traveling and, one day, living in the big city. So after graduating from high school in 1981, she joined the Air Force. It was the perfect fit for a 17-year-old who wanted to escape Wisconsin. “I wanted to leave our small town,” she says. “Everybody in that town either works at the Harley Davidson plant or the paper mill. I had bigger dreams than that.”
After signing her papers to join the Air Force, Carla came to Dyess Air Force Base in Texas. Her first job there was as a telephone operator at the communications center. After obtaining her security clearance, Carla moved to the booster shift in the center. Because computers weren’t yet a regular feature of office technology, Carla had to type up incoming messages—an arduous task that lasted hours.
“Our typing skills got really good, because when you got done, that’s when you left,” she says. “If you were a slow typer, it could take 12 hours to type all the messages that came in from the people on the base.”
That first job set the trajectory for Carla’s career. She spent the next two decades in communications security. How did she do it? First of all, she loved the work. Second, she had the support of her husband, whom she met at Dyess and has been married to for 36 years.
“My husband was a house husband, so he stayed home and took care of our two kids, which was really a big help,” Carla notes. “I could just freely pack up and leave and not even think twice about going someplace.” Throughout her career, Carla traveled to Germany, Belgium, Italy, and Greece, just to mention a few of the countries.
After 20 years in the military, she retired and was hired back as a contractor for BAE Systems in 2001. Carla worked on the Telecommunications Certification Office Support System, which tracked the long-haul communications in the Pentagon. She ended up as the lead programmer for 14 years.
Now in her current role, Carla is a fixer of sorts, focusing on configuration management, change models, and some auditing. “I like to say that people can call me if they need help with something. I’ll make sure it gets done, or I’ll figure out how to get it done or who to contact for help,” Carla replied when asked how she’s perceived as a leader. “I like to be somebody you can rely on.”
Part of being a leader also means empowering others, especially members of the team, Carla says. “I want everyone on the team to have a voice in what’s going on, and I want them to be heard,” she states.
As she’s progressed in her career, she’s learned some valuable lessons along the way. Taking time for herself is key. Carla says. “I’m really active in my church and I’m active at home, so there are just a lot of struggles I have with my own personal time, because I feel like I give a lot of my time away. I don’t mind, of course.”
Still, she says she avoids thinking the grass is greener on the other side. “I try not to envy anybody else. I’m happy with what I have,” she says. “And I don’t compare myself to other people, because that will just kill you.”