Diversity and Service
James Pope has been a Skils’kin employee since 2012 and is currently a Senior Project Manager over our Custodial and Food services contracts at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls Montana. James leads a team of over 60 staff that are responsible for creating an exceptional dining experience and keeping facilities sparkling clean for the servicemen and women of Malmstrom Air Force Base. He is able to achieve this through his outstanding crew of cashiers, supervisors, custodial and food service workers. The crew he leads is primarily made up of people with disabilities. Part of why James is so successful in leading a diverse crew is because of his experiences in the Air Force, defending our country.
James joined the military in 1986 as a Heavy Equipment Operator. He built runways, base camps, roads, parking lots and did a lot of base maintenance. Later he was deployed to Desert Storm, where his main task was digging fox holes, setting up base camps and taking care of a runway for stealth bombers. He served at bases in Guam, Florida, Germany, and Arizona, continuing to take on larger maintenance and recovery operations. During this time James built up his ability to manage large groups of people. After that, James applied and was accepted for a humanitarian tour to the Islands of Palau. During this time he was a part of a team that refurbished schools, built a clinic and police station, and went to outer islands to deliver much-needed school supplies and toys to many wonderful people. James continued to evolve in his military career and moved up in rank, leading an entire squadron on a base in England. During this time James learned how to deal with large contracts and budgets, as well as the politics of a foreign country. While he earned many personal accolades and awards, James said his biggest accomplishment in his military career was “having 12 Airmen get promoted ahead of schedule, earn ‘Below the Zone’ promotions, and being a small part of having five of my Airmen reach the two highest ranks in the enlisted structure. Three became Senior Master Sergeants and two Chief Master Sergeant.” James retired from the military in 2011 while serving at Malmstrom Air Force Base.
Now, still working on the same Air Force Base James says, “The military opened the door for me to engage with a whole spectrum of people and one of the things that I learned while serving is that people, no matter where they were born, no matter their status, background, ethnicity, or abilities, have more things in common than differences.” “Most want the same things in life. They want respect, to be heard, a sense of purpose, to be treated fairly, feel safe, and to take care of those close to them and in turn to be taken care of.” James works to support his team to achieve these goals on a daily basis. These are the attitudes Skils’kin values so deeply in relation to our mission. Through the many exceptional veteran employees at Skils’kin, it’s become clear that James is not alone in choosing to carry his military values forward into his civilian career. In James’s words, “In the military, we were held very accountable for our actions and we held our airmen accountable for theirs. We also had to collaborate. We had to work within our own branch as well as other branches of service, other foreign militaries, and civilian populace. All of these values hold true at Skils’kin as well. I hold myself accountable and all of my employees as well. I have to work with a diverse group of people and we have to collaborate not only with those in our own company but with the military, the community, and other contractors to be successful and carry out our mission.”
In James’s own words, “My proudest accomplishments at Skils’kin are very similar to those I experienced in the military. I have been given the opportunity to help open the door for over a hundred awesome people to step through and reach their goals. I’ve watched them all as they worked hard, excelled and amazed me. Our mission here at Skils’kin is to enrich the quality of life for adults with disabilities but the truth is those adults have enriched the quality of my life.”
Richness in character and value is paramount in Skils’kin’s standards for employees. Through our close connections to the military community, on bases around the country, Skils’kin takes pride in sharing and aligning our company values with the values veteran employees bring to the workplace after service in the military.
If you are interested in working in one of Skils’kin’s many diverse and supportive worksites, visit our career postings or call at (509) 326-6760 and launch your career with one of the many, frequently updated job postings.