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GPA and the Hierarchy of Needs

Written by: Dan Starkey

It is difficult for me to put into words exactly why I came to work for GPA (Global Process Automation). I mean, a friend of mine came to work here and was enthusiastically telling me how great it was. So, of course the mechanics of hearing about GPA and sending a resume are obvious, but the decision to accept the offered position was based on a lot of things.

Back in college, they taught us about a sort of pyramid of employees’ necessities called Maslow’s Hierarchy that has 5 categories. At the lowest, most basic level are physiological needs which include a comfortable working environment and steady, adequate income. Next is safety for yourself, your family, property, etc. These two items certainly weigh into any decision to work with a company. The third level, however, was what I believe really cinched it for me: love and belonging.

Previously, I had made a career out of military service. I spent 21 years in the Marine Corps, and it can be hard to find that level of camaraderie again in the “civilian world”. Up to that point, most of my closest friends had military backgrounds as well. After retiring, I chose to work on my formal education, so was thrust back into civilian life in a full-time college environment. The atmosphere difference was in stark contrast with what I had grown accustomed to. I often found it challenging to create any lasting bonds with people that had such different life experiences than my own.

I had several meetings with GPA, but from the first interview I knew that this company was different. I noticed that each employee, regardless of position or title, cared about others. It felt a bit like being invited to a family gathering, getting to see employees’ interaction. I always believed that working for the sake of working was not a road I wanted to take. I wanted to enjoy what I did, the process of doing it, and where I spent my time. With all that in mind, I accepted the position offered by GPA.

From the moment I came onboard with GPA, I was treated like a member of that family. The best part, for me, was that so many people seemed to have the same mindset as me: work hard, but love what you do and where you do it. There is always the opportunity to have fun while accomplishing work goals, whether through daily banter or throwing axes at an axe bar after hours. Having a good time can make even the long hours of supporting a plant outage more bearable!

Even after almost 2 years with GPA, I still am very content with my employment. I believe this is because over the time I have been with the company, the last two levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy have been getting fulfilled. Level 4 is esteem: the feeling that my contributions are recognized and valued in reaching company goals. GPA does an excellent job at highlighting achievements, not only individually, but organizationally through company newsletters and dinner events as well. Level 5 is self-actualization, which is basically giving an employee the best chance of achieving their maximum potential. GPA excels at supplying training opportunities to continually improve the knowledge base and experiences of their employees, equipping them so they can achieve success.

As an industrial systems integrator, GPA works with companies across the country. This means that the physical workplace can change on a weekly or daily basis. In addition, IT and networking projects can vary wildly depending on customer needs, and tasks can rarely be categorized as mundane or commonplace. Many client environments have legacy systems and common practices in place that are in desperate need of upgrade, security, and enhancement. The old adage of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” can unfortunately make clients a prime target for attacks or failures which lead to outages and potentially a significant loss of revenue. Many companies focus more on keeping systems up and running instead of looking forward to upgrades and improvements. This fact places GPA as uniquely qualified to come in and engineer custom solutions for those environments.

One of the neat things about working for GPA is that work is always different and interesting. When I entered this job field, I had never really thought much about anything outside of traditional IT work. GPA integrates IT job skills into the production environments of mills, plants, and other industrial facilities. These environments demand added considerations for safety and security that are above and beyond what is considered traditional or normal IT work. I foresee my workload remaining interesting and challenging for quite some time into the future. I am looking forward to it.


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