Employee Spotlight: Carrie Yang-Johnson
As eSimplicity’s Director of Business Growth, it is no surprise that Carrie Yang-Johnson balances so many different responsibilities at the organization. Read through our Q&A to learn more about how she got to where she is now and her passion for volunteering and helping others in her community.
Katie Tsai: As Director of Business Growth at eSimplicity, what are your day-to-day responsibilities and what does your role entail?
Carrie Yang-Johnson: In short, I help the company grow. This is accomplished in various ways. For example, since we are an 8(a) certified small business, I figure out how to leverage this certification. The Small Business Association (SBA) 8(a) program helps businesses like ours grow by allowing government procurements to be sole sourced or set aside. I also work closely with Nam (Co-founder and COO) and AnhThu (CEO) to identify and track opportunities within our lines of business (digital services and telecommunications/spectrum engineering). I work on understanding agency needs and strategize our pipeline of opportunities. I also oversee all proposals, RFIs (requests for information), and responses to the Government.
KT: You just described a lot of different jobs and responsibilities within your role. During your time with eSimplicity so far, what is an accomplishment you are most proud of?
CYJ: The first proposal I worked on at eSimplicity was a fairly large opportunity. I am really proud of the final response we put together! It was definitely an accomplishment. It was amazing to see a company our size hit the ground running and work to put together a strong and compliant proposal response.
KT: You’ve been with eSimplicity for nine months now. What would you say is your favorite part about working at eSimplicity?
CYJ: I love the mission, in terms of making an impact. I think that was one of the biggest things that drew me to the company. One of the most important things I have tried to do throughout my career is to join companies that have a mission which aims to make a difference. Initially, my career started in nonprofit and although that is one way to make an impact, it was interesting to see that even in the federal contracting industry, I can still make a difference and impact.
KT: What is an example of how your work directly makes a difference in the government contracting industry?
CYJ: Our digital services side of the house supports multiple projects with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and our telecommunications/spectrum engineering side helps the Services ensure radiofrequency access to support their missions. In the bigger picture, the projects we support help agencies meet their mission objectives which in turn impacts lives.
KT: You’ve mentioned you worked at nonprofits and various other organizations. How is your current role unique from other roles or companies you’ve worked with and how was the transition to government contracting?
CYJ: It is unique in the sense that it is honestly the smallest company I have worked for. What’s neat about it is that I have been with larger companies, and the last company I was with is a mid-sized company. In theory, I understood a lot of the challenges small businesses face in regards to size, but now that I work for a small business, learning how to help a smaller company grow is different. That’s the uniqueness of it. In contracting, you get exposed to so many different facets, so I never had to focus on all the small business regulations and understand SBA to the degree I have to understand it now.
KT: Looking back at your career journey, do you wish you could have done anything differently or is this exactly what you wanted to do from the get-go?
CYJ: There is a common consensus in this industry that many people in federal contracting/ proposals end up in it almost by accident. It’s not like you say “oh, I want to write proposals for the rest of my life.” Would I do anything differently? I do enjoy what I do, or I wouldn’t do it. But, I never set off to do federal business development or write proposals, to be very honest. I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s in psychology and a counseling degree, so I knew I’ve always wanted to work with people. With contracting, you just do it in a different way. I went from working at a nonprofit to doing federal contracting. I worked on a disability services contract and that project opened up the world of federal contracting to me. When I look back at every single career shift I’ve made, it’s interesting to me how everything I have done has always been working with people. I got my start in a nonprofit and it was working with children and families, then I shifted gears and worked in disability services. Disability services have constantly been a big part of my life, particularly since my brother was disabled. But when I look back at my life, disability services and support for those that are disabled have always been important to me. So if I were to do anything now on my own, it would probably be to start up a disability services nonprofit of some sort that I could tailor around my lifestyle and raising a family.
KT: That’s really admirable to hear. Switching gears from career talk, what are some things that you like to do for fun outside of work?
CYJ: I love gardening, antiquing, and traveling to beautiful parts of the country. My family loves to hike and be outdoors. I also enjoy going to wineries. In late 2000, we actually started a farm winery here in Loudoun County but we decided to get out of it before it became a lifestyle. I also worked at a weekend respite program for children with intellectual and physical disabilities. It was a wonderful program that gave children with disabilities a place where they fit in and it also gave their parents a break and a support system. A lot of parents who have children with severe disabilities rarely get a break. I’m hoping I get back into something like that once COVID dies down. I think everyone has a special gift to offer and when you can go out there and be able to provide any kind of support or something that uses your talents to help make a difference and benefit others, it’s so important to make that little bit of time to help out.
KT: To wrap up our conversation, what advice would you give for any recent graduates or young adults entering the workforce for the first time?
CYJ: I am a mom to three kids, with one leaving for college next week! The biggest thing I would share with recent graduates is to balance what is in your heart and figure out how you can integrate that into something that can help you pay the bills and be successful. At the end of the day you have to pay the bills, but it’s important to never lose that thing that brings you joy and to always find a way to integrate that into your life, whatever that is.