BY WAYNE CHARGUALAF
GTA is making changes to its employees’ work experience as it continues to invest in the “three pillars” central to its vision as a company — branding, operational excellence and creating the best place to work — Roland C. Certeza, CEO of GTA, said.
“We’re going to continue to delight our customers and continue to operate well, but there’s that final aspect of our long-term strategy, which is everything to do with our employees,” he said.
Last year, GTA’s main focus was on improving its touchpoints with its customers. The company revamped its branding and unveiled a new flagship store in the Camacho Landmark Center in Tamuning. Now, it’s focusing on improving its back-end operations.
GTA’s headquarters in upper Tumon is in the midst of renovations, which will include new bathrooms, desks and workspaces. Employees were allowed to choose colors for their respective departments to help them feel a sense of ownership of their space. Changes to the finance, engineering, IT and human resources departments have been completed. Product and marketing spaces as well as changes to the call center in Dededo will be completed by the end of the year. Employees will also receive new uniforms.
“We knew we wanted to get new uniforms all the way down to the raincoats for operations people who have to work out in the rain,” Certeza said. “We have so much respect and care for our field guys and gals and we want to make sure they’re using adequate protective gear.”
After years of aggressively building GTA’s network, Certeza said the company decided the time had come to invest in improving its employee experience with a multi-year plan.
“Roland has been really big on employee experience, and from what I’ve seen it’s really improved morale — it really is a big deal,” Michele Catahay Perez, community relations manager for GTA, said. “He’s also growing our workforce. He’s sending a few of us to Berkeley to get high impact leadership training. These are really big investments that he’s made in the company so that we can grow.”
Certeza also hired Stacy C. Elarmo to head GTA’s human resources department. Elarmo, a human resources professional who has worked in the HR field in the U.S. mainland since 2008, helped get the design firm Artefact named to the list of Best 100 Places to Work in Seattle by Seattle Business Magazine in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
“I wanted to help create a place where everyone feels welcome, where it’s a safe space to share ideas,” Elarmo said. Integrating concepts from the user experience and design fields, Elarmo said she has aimed to help improve the organization, workflows and — most importantly — culture of GTA.
“From the very beginning of the employee journey, the idea is to welcome them into a culture where it’s okay to share ideas, to try things out, to experiment and fail,” she said. “A lot of businesses — not just on Guam, but throughout the world — still have these strict hierarchies. What I want to do is help create culture where leaders are viewed more as teammates — a more collaborative culture.”
As it makes big changes to improve employee experience, GTA continues to move forward with its “operational excellence pillar” as it closes in on the completion of its new data center in Piti.
“We should be done with the station in June,” Certeza said.
The data center is part of a joint venture between GTA and San Francisco-based RAM Telecom International, Inc. called Gateway Network Connections, LLC.
It will be an 11,800-square-foot data center with approximately 250 racks of capacity and 2 megawatts of power. The purpose-built facility is engineered to withstand category 5 hurricane conditions and tsunami flooding.
A cable landing station that is part of the Gateway Network Connections project was completed in 2017. Guam’s first neutral cable landing station, the SEA-US cable has been connected and operational since then, with more cables to come.
“Before, we were buying space with cables,” Catahay Perez said. “Now as owners with our own cables, we can sell space. So it’s a big deal for us as a local company.” mbj