Susan Parkhill has been a corporate executive in Killeen since 1990. She ran global operations at Sallie Mae until the student loan marketing association closed in 2010.
Global business services and experience management company Aegis bought the building formerly occupied by Sallie Mae and immediately hired Parkhill to be the site director.
Parkhill sat down with the Herald to discuss the impact Aegis has had on Killeen over the last two years and the company’s latest wave of hiring.
Aegis recently started a new wave of hiring in Killeen. How is that going?
We are still in that wave of hiring. We are now down to the last fourth of what we need to hire to really be fully functional for this time of year. Two of our clients are in the health care industry. The annual enrollment period for people to change their health care plans is upon us. So much of our hiring has been in support of that activity.
What type of personality succeeds in an entry-level position at Aegis?
We are a people business. First and foremost, you have to like people. You have to enjoy engaging with people. That is a critical trait. You have to be a little bit computer savvy. Everything we teach an employee will have to be used on some sort of application. Problem solving is important. Being able to look at something and finding alternative ways to provide a solution. Each of those things is a critical skill-set we look for. That can be somebody right out of high school all the way to someone who is retiring from the military after a long career. So it runs the gamut. But to be able to talk with people on the phone and help people, you have to be a people person.
Is there room for entry level employees to grow at Aegis?
First off, we really only hire one out of every four or five that we interview. So if they get the job, they have already beaten out other people. So when they come in, I discuss with them on day one that each and every one of them has an equal opportunity for a higher level role here. Each and every one. What we base that on is what they do here. When we are in a hiring ramp like we are now, we need more supervisors. Each and every person who walks through our doors has an opportunity to fill one of those roles based on their performance and the leadership they display. All of those are opportunities given to entry level employees. And of course, Aegis is an international company with a lot of opportunities and room for employees to grow.
How much do you think this facility impacts the local community?
When I think about how we interplay with the community, there’s my staff. They all get paid, and they pay their landlords. They buy groceries. They pay their utilities. That money turns over two times at least. And let’s use the example of the utility company. Well, they pay their employees, so that’s three times. And then their employees go out and pay their utilities, so that’s four times. I have always wondered how many times a dollar turns over in a community. Because here, it could be at least four or five before it ever leaves one chain. My employees get paid and turn those over within the community. This site needs a lot of services from local contractors. The dollars that we earn in this facility by and large go into this community.
What makes it easy to do business in Killeen? What makes it tough?
What makes it easy is the area itself, Killeen. Killeen and the Fort Hood community just attract and retain great talent. That is why my former company came here in the ’80s, and that’s why Aegis was so excited to purchase the facility in 2010. The education and experience level of individuals coming to this community were the standards they were looking for. That is what makes it easy to do business here. What makes it hard? I don’t know that anything makes it hard to do business here. When we’re doing some large hiring, sometimes it can be a little bit challenging to meet all of our numbers in the time frame we’re looking for. Our objective is to put our brand everywhere so when somebody thinks about needing a job, they think of Aegis.