VP Defense Sector, STG, Inc.
In a non-descript technology campus off Route 40, in a colorless corner office, sits Tamera Rush, Vice President, Defense Sector for STG, Inc., a leading mid-tier government contractor providing enterprise IT solutions on APG. Personal photos adorn her desk, but the bare walls give no indication of the powerhouse woman they surround.
“I’ve never quite understood hanging your awards on the wall,” Rush admits, fumbling to find the proof of one of her most prestigious accomplishments – the Hammer Award presented to her in 1998 by former Vice President Al Gore for her work in reinventing the government principles that support the “green ammo” development of non-toxic ammunition. She rummages without success through a stack of unframed certificates and diplomas on her credenza nearly knocking over the ATHENA sculpture standing next to a munitions shell.
Rush laughs heartily at herself as if suddenly realizing the juxtaposition of the items and, for an organized and influential leader, her inability to find what she is looking for.
I remind Rush that when I95 BUSINESS magazine launched, she was the first person we identified as an ‘Influencer’ for this column. “I just started working here,” she remembers. “Life was crazy.” Was? Two years later, she’s moved her company’s office from the Harford Business Innovation Center to its current location; been named a Maryland Top 100 Woman by The Daily Record; went home with the Judges Award for Best Dance – that included a cartwheel – at the 2012 Dancing for the Arts fundraiser; and successfully chaired her second goal-breaking fundraiser for SARC’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event while leading operations for a business unit generating over $25 million a year in revenue.
Rush moved here from upstate New York in 1997, after earning a master’s in organic chemistry and a bachelor’s in secondary education. “I followed the teaching career path while in college,” she says. “I figured the chemistry gave me added value.”
After teaching for a year following graduation, she knew immediately that it was not her future and began looking for other opportunities. “I took a job helping automate the processes for the disposal of hazardous waste at Fort Drum in New York. They liked that I had a chemistry degree, figuring it would serve me well as we worked through the hazardous waste life cycle, making sure we were compliant with existing laws and permitting regulations. One of the leaders at U.S. Army Environmental Command asked if I would relocate to bring the same automation initiative to the larger operations down here. I said yes and here I am!”
Eventually, Rush moved on to Booz Allen Hamilton were she stayed for over eight years as a principal investigator for large-scale research projects in environmental science, engineering, biochemistry and weapons testing. “Working at Booz was great,” remembers Rush. “I worked with some wonderful people and especially benefited from their companywide mentoring program for women. I only left Booz to explore some of the growing areas that were accompanying the BRAC initiative. Since Booz already had experts in the growing sectors, I went somewhere where I could spread my wings a little more.”
Heading over to Syracuse Research Corporation (SRC), a nationally recognized, research and development company as director of federal markets, Rush quickly realized she missed the relationship with other women that were so successfully established and mentored while at Booz. “I looked around and realized, ‘I need my women friends,’” Rush admits. Reaching out to Heather Couvillon and Joanne Shumaker, Rush chartered the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of Women In Defense (WID), a National Security Organization that cultivates and supports the advancement and recognition of women in all aspects of national security. “We sent out an invitation to lunch and 12 ladies showed up at a local restaurant,” she says. “We said, ‘here’s our board, let’s get started.’ Our first event, we expected and set up for 30 attendees. Over 100 showed up. We ran out of everything,” she adds with a smile. “Now, the leadership has transitioned successfully, and we have three scholarships that are funded and endowed, and have over 200 members. I’ve very proud of how well it’s taken off.”
“Tamera is a remarkable person with a passion for improving the community around her. Several years ago, Tamera observed that women in the defense community needed a support system and so she took the initiative to gather people together to launch Women In Defense, which now serves hundreds of women through its programs and events. Tamera’s energy is legendary and she has the gift of instilling confidence in those around her,” says Joan Michel, Consultant with Profile Partners LLC.
Rush’s current employer, STG Inc., entered the local DoD contractor market over 12 years ago, but convinced Rush to join their team in October 2011 as they began growing their portfolio of work on APG with C4ISR. Initially located at the incubator space in HBIC, Rush transitioned the company to its new space in the Hickory Technology Campus taking over local operations, P&L and hiring. “STG’s founder emigrated to the United States in 1979 and started the company in 1986. He runs the company like a family and treats everyone like family members. The company’s ‘Circle of Success,’ philosophy of fostering employee growth and success that leads to customer success and therefore long-term business opportunities was very appealing to me.”
Rush manages over 300 employees, some in the office but most on-site at APG and other Army installations. “I know there are a lot of IT solutions companies, but we really are different,” she says confidently. “We truly excel at what we do and with the talented people we employ. We can provide enterprise support, help desk solutions as well as high-end mobile and web apps. You tell me your challenge, and I can get you a solution.”
“I knew Tamera was a special person 16 years ago when I convinced her to move to Maryland from upstate New York. It was great to have her join our government project team so that we could take advantage of her strong project management skills and outgoing personality. It is no surprise to me to see how fast she as advanced in her career!” says Stan Childs, general engineer, U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity.
Developing and maintaining relationships on post and in the Harford County community is part of her job, but it’s also what keeps Rush engaged and excited. In addition to her board position on SARC, Rush is the current president of the AUSA Aberdeen Chapter supporting soldiers with monthly care packages and the annual Fisher House Ball. She is chairing the October scheduled “Rolling with Ripken” event to support the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation that is raising money for a new ball field at the Boys & Girls Clubs in Aberdeen. And, she is the honorary chair for the 2013 Dancing for Arts fundraiser for the Harford County Center for the Arts.
Rush takes it all in stride and sees nothing extraordinary in what’s she’s accomplished, worried more about finding time in her busy day to schedule her workouts. “I’m passionate about the mission of the military. It’s our job to do everything we can to make sure we develop and implement the latest technology so that the men and women who keep our country safe can come home safe to their families. I’m passionate about providing the best opportunities for the people I work with. It’s easy to influence others when you’re doing what you believe in.” I95