In his 14 years abroad, current RS&H Military Programs Leader Gordy Simmons visited 35 countries for work. He traveled to Eastern Europe to help build emergency embassies after the fall of the Soviet Union. He established whole installations necessary to enact the Wye River Memorandum in the Middle East. He served in various leadership roles in Germany, Japan, Israel and the Marshall Islands. He even completed two stints in Afghanistan, helping to support the NATO coalition’s mission there.
Gordy’s years abroad in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineering (USACE) provided him with innumerable lessons. But, perhaps most importantly, his work abroad reinforced how many ways there are to solve a problem.
“You see really quickly when you travel how people’s experiences and environment shape how they approach problems,” said Gordy. “You learn that a lot of times there’s not one right solution. You learn to listen.”
That lesson informed how Gordy approached his work as Chief of Design Branch in the USACE Savannah District from 2002 to 2008, and it remained an important factor in how he approached his later role as Chief of Engineering Division in the same district from 2009 to 2017. It continues to be an influential part of his leadership style at RS&H.
But as much as Gordy prizes flexibility in finding solutions, he set very strict requirements as he searched for a post-military job upon his retirement from the USACE.
“I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t have to compromise my values for the sake of shareholder profit,” said Gordy. “I wanted to find a place that shared that spirit of service I had felt in the military.”
From USACE to RS&H
Four firms. That’s all.
When Gordy decided to leave the USACE in December 2017, he had a ready list of the firms he would consider working for, informed by his years of experience working with contractors.
That list included only four companies, RS&H among them.
“I’ve told everybody that I think I won the lottery by getting this job here,” said Gordy. “I couldn’t ask for a better organization to work for, better associates to work with, or more interesting projects to work on – all the while getting to do what I’ve done my whole career: helping support U.S. soldiers, sailors and airmen and the national security of America.”
Mementos & Insights
From the photos of Gordy’s family on their travels to the authentic Persian rug that you can most certainly not find at retailers near you, Gordy’s office in Savannah is full of mementos and collectibles from his time abroad.
“If you ask him about the items, he’ll tell you all about them,” said Senior Transportation Planner Rachel Hatcher, who also works in the Savannah office. “He’s just the kind of person that’s very easy to relate to. He wants to know you on both a professional and personal level.”
Defense project manager Brian Flatt agrees.
“He asks questions to listen, not because he already knows the answer, but because he wants to learn,” he added.
As Military Programs Leader, Gordy provides valuable insight into military processes and needs, allowing for better communication between RS&H and the USACE, and in the end, better quality products.
“It’s good for all parties,” says Business Development & Marketing Manager Lisa Thoele. “It makes for a smoother project from start to finish. We want to constantly be learning, growing and improving, and Gordy makes that possible.”
A Common Mission
In his nine months at RS&H, Gordy has grown close with his fellow associates.
“It normally takes a little longer for me to feel comfortable somewhere,” said Gordy. “But it was so easy here because we all have the same end goal. It’s not all about profit. It’s about a larger mission.”
Throughout his life, Gordy has been driven by that sense of duty to country, to community and to family. Underlying all of that has been a love of travel.
On top of the 35 countries Gordy has visited for work, he has traveled to another 26 countries for recreation or service projects. Gordy and his wife of nearly 35 years will soon check off another destination when they travel to Portugal.
That will make for a grand total of 62 countries – and counting.