A Place I Cherish
Vol.9 Issue 3
Sky view of the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center

Prior to my years of government service, I worked in several private-sector organizations. I will leave counting the number of jobs I had for those who best know me, but there were many. That is partly due to my often working more than one job at a time. Admittedly, I also had a difficult time imagining myself working in one place for too long. While layoffs and my interest in trying new things led me to several industries throughout my twenties and thirties, the decades would eventually show me an oasis that would change my perspective forever.

A quick internet search for the meaning of culture results in a long list of sources showing different types and definitions. I wrote countless pages in my graduate work attempting to dissect Organizational Culture by researching its various types, elements, and characteristics. Variations withstanding, there are terms common among the many discussions surrounding culture, three of which I think are key: beliefs, values, and imagery. It took me some time to put my finger on it, but these characteristics of culture are what I believe made me feel welcome in my first days working at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center (MMAC).

Something was different about this place. I was surrounded by people with decades of service, building the systems and applications our organization still supports today. While I had run across that kind of tenure in my previous work life, it was not to the extent that I observed it here at the MMAC. Additionally, people here welcomed me as if I had been here with them all those years. Most memorable to me are their stories. They still recount their experiences together in much the same fashion one might hear from relatives at a family reunion. They also seemed happier and more content than I had ever seen in places that I had worked before. Over those first months of employment here, I enjoyed the opportunity to work throughout the Aeronautical Center and found that theme common in every organization I visited. I am not able to give an exact time frame, but within a year, I saw myself working here for years to come.

So, what was different here that gave me such a sense of home? We encounter attributes of culture in every aspect of life, but I believe it was the stories in this case. I am still smiling, having written that my coworkers told me of the times they laughed while they worked together. Verbally, they painted vivid images, and those developed the tapestries that connected with me. Over fifteen years later, I still cannot definitively say I know precisely what makes this place unique, but I think it is the shared sense of family blended with the pride we find in government service. Those, among others, are the beliefs, values, and imagery that develop into shared experiences, and that culture is what impassions me when I meet people new to the MMAC. I am honored to share this wonderful experience that found me along with others who appreciate it.

Enterprise Services Center logo
Federal Aviation Aministration (FAA) seal