Ask Demiko

Demiko Cherry, PHCNW Recruitment Specialist

"Time is Valuable"

Whenever you apply for a job always remember the time of a recruiter or hiring manager is his or her greatest commodity.  It is imperative you write your resume in a manner that leaves no room for interpretation.

When you apply for a job, make sure to match up your skills and experience with the job description. You need to read the job description carefully and take the time to list all of  your skills and experience that match it.  You would be wise to think of your resume as a sculpture you are carefully constructing to display a masterful representation of your professional self.

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Less is More

Job hunting advice from PHCNW's employment specialist and recruiter


by Demiko Cherry, PHCNW Recruitment Specialist

It's important to always be respectful of professional time. When you call a recruiter about an opportunity make sure to keep the conversation appropriate and timely. Avoid launching into your entire life story while you are trying to find out information about the application process. It is not a social call, it’s a professional one and it should be treated as such. Remember that the recruiter has multiple people calling them and multiple responses to give. Please keep in mind to ask pertinent questions about the position you are interest in and avoid in appropriate verbal joking. Also, avoid offering gifts or services to the recruiter; it will not bode well in the process. Remember everything that you are sharing that recruiter is analyzing and will like share with the hiring manager. Someone who doesn’t know where the professional line is drawn could be perceived as someone who may have trouble doing so on the job. All of these things are taken into consideration in a situation when making a hiring decision. Companies are often weighing risk, and in the world of business it is true that loose lips sink ships.

Cliff's Climb, "a win-win for a good cause"

Imagine mountain climbing in downtown Portland! That’s what Cliff Doran of PHC Northwest’s human resources department will be doing to benefit the American Lung Association’s “Fight for Air Climb” at 9 a.m., Sunday, January 26 at the U.S. Bancorp Tower, the second tallest building in Portland. He’s inviting financial support and endorsement of his effort by e-mail or facebook.

Doran plans to climb 160 storeys, estimated to be at least 2400 steps or a conservative 1 ¼ miles of steps.  The U.S. Bancorp Tower is 42 stories so he will be climbing, returning to the base, and climbing again, repeating until he has climbed his goal of 160 storeys.

“It’s something I enjoy doing but it also contributes to other people,” he said.

A rough rule of thumb in mountaineering is that “a fit climber” can ascend approximately 1000 feet per hour. That would mean Doran will be climbing for more than two hours. Just to get some perspective on this awesome feat,   the typical climb of Mount Hood is only double this at 5,000 feet. In short, Doran will be climbing approximately half the height of Mount Hood. But, the keywords in this assessment are “fit climber.”

Doran, who has been a Tae Kwon Do practitioner for 12 years and an instructor for more than seven, seems to meet those criteria. He has been training for the climb by running four miles every other day and climbing the 266 stairs at Mt. Tabor several times a week.

“I went climbing at Mt. Tabor where there are a lot of stairs last Sunday and yesterday (Wednesday),” he said, admitting this climb for the Lung Association is his first time participating in a charity event like this.

While Doran clearly loves the athletic challenge and has been active in other charity events, he has never done anything as rigorous as this stair climb. As most PHC Northwest employees, he shares a commitment to non-profit giving. This stair climb for the American Lung Association combines both his passions and takes it to a whole new level.

Regular online registration is $35 and there is a $100 minimum fundraising requirement per person to climb. Doran welcomes financial endorsement to meet that minimum. The American Lung Association likens the Fight for Air Climb to a “vertical foot race.” It’s a timed event that can be done by family members of all ages as well as the serious “elite” athletes. It claims stair climbing is easy on the joints and has lower impact compared to walking. It also burns twice the calories in less time than other training. To compare, 15 minutes of stair climbing equals 30 minutes of running, making it a total body workout which involves your legs, lungs, heart and upper body.

At the end of the day, Doran will be eligible for first, second or third place awards including top speed ranking. Times for everyone will be posted for all four circuit options.

Dee McCartney: “One Special Lady”


Dee McCartney, who has been PHC Northwest’s Manager of Human Resources & Risk Management for the past seven years, said good bye to her co-workers and friends at a retirement gathering last Friday.

“I’ve enjoyed working here and working with all of you. I’m really going to miss all of you,” she said, expressing gratitude especially to John Murphy. 

“She is smart and tough enough to handle the union negotiations we’ve been involved in,” John said, noting that Dee was always there, doing the tough work.

“She has the expertise, accountability and responsibility for that work,” he said, adding “This wasn’t easy work. I’m very grateful to her and am at a loss to move on. Thank you Dee.”

That sentiment is shared by PHC Northwest as a whole and especially by those who knew her best and worked with her the closest.

“She is one great HR manager and one special lady,” Terri Baker said. “We are really going to miss her.”


On to the next adventure

He was fresh out of college with a degree in network administration and eager to put his academic skills to work.

It was September 2012, when Thamer Khan came to PHC Northwest to work as an intern network engineer in the IT department. But the time has sped by and tomorrow, after a year of great work experience and many endearing work friendships, Thamer will head back out, more fully prepared for his next work adventure.

The internship gave him an opportunity to discover his own customer service skills along with tooling up even more on his computer and network building skills.

“I really like network administration; because it lets me work on things hands on and challenges me to solve the toughest problems, “he said, adding “I learned a lot here at PHC Northwest.  I learned our programs, how they’re structured and how things are run in a large company.  I also learned how to enhance my customer service skills because I treat everyone as a customer.”

He has also found a natural ability in responding to a fast turnaround network need, one which he knows he’ll need in the “real world.”

When one of the janitorial project managers had her laptop stolen from her truck, he had to quickly get her a replacement, configure it in the shortest amount of time, which he did.

“It usually takes about three days to configure a laptop, but she was in a real pinch.  I worked on it all day, and had it up and running in one day,” he said, adding that experience was one of many that taught him how to do his job well in a real life situation.

Among his top picks for his next work assignment, is to work for a privately owned company, financial institution, government or another non-profit such as PHC Northwest.

While he is excited about the next step of his career journey, he’s grateful to PHC Northwest for the opportunity to do on the job learning.

“It was an honor to work at PHC Northwest,” he said. “In addition to all the great people who work here, I am especially grateful to Raul Sangalang, director of information systems, because he saw something that stood out from the other applicants and gave me a chance, an opportunity to use my skills from college.  It was really exciting to put them to work.”

 PHC Northwest is grateful to Thamer for his hard work and friendly presence and wishes him much success. 

Saying Goodbye To Barb Lee

After 15 years, Barbara Lee, janitorial supervisor for the Bonneville Damn, is retiring.  She began working for PHC Northwest in 1999. She plans to spend more time with her aging mother and pursuing activities she’s kept on hold for too long, she said. She will be missed by many who have valued her upbeat work attitude and bubbly personality over the years.

“It won’t be Bonneville without you, Barb,” Gianni Xeros, project manager, said during her retirement party at PHC Northwest.

That sentiment was shared by others in the PHC Northwest community, who were on hand to celebrate with her. She will be missed for her hard work and positive attitude all of which have been greatly appreciated.


Looking back over 24 years: when management becomes a team sport

Thair Khan began his career with PHC Northwest on a frosty December 18, 1989. He was hired as a supervisor trainee at the Bonneville Dam, but never expected he would stay 24 years. His primary goals then were to ”make sure everything is running as it should,” he said, describing what could best be described as his personal mission statement for his long career at PHC Northwest.

He arrived in the United States from Jordan in 1976 to attend college in Tennessee. After three months, he knew the heavy humidity and summer rain there was not for him. He moved to Portland where his family members lived and attended Portland State University and PCC, where he met his lovely Peruvian wife, Lilliam. Soon after, with his wife and baby daughter, he moved the young family to Arlington, Texas, where he attended the university, helped run his family’s business and begin what would be a ten year-year career in hotel management.

Later, after returning to Portland, he accepted the job at PHC Northwest. During those 10 years in hotel management he had learned important management skills the old fashioned way, hard work and experience coming up through the ranks.

“I started out at the bottom as a bus boy and worked my way all the way up to division manager,” he said about his previous hotel management career. “I was in charge of the room division including housekeeping, but I knew the expectations of my managers and I remembered what it was like to be on the bottom.”

That experience in Texas has served him well at PHC Northwest, where he coaches his employees, cares about their development and success, and values the potential of the team he leads. “I love it when I see someone succeed. It’s very rewarding,” he said, sharing that gratuitious attitude with his supervisors, as well, “I’m very blessed with a good staff of supervisors and managers. I give them credit for what they do. They work WITH me and we all work for our success as a team.”

When Thair came to PHC Northwest, he had no idea he would stay so long or find so much personal fulfillment as he has at PHC Northwest.

“I thought, at first, ok, this is a non-profit job, just something to do until I find a new job,” he said, shaking his head, smiling at destiny’s other plan, “but I kept getting more responsibilities and I’m still here.”

Three months after starting at the Bonneville Dam, janitorial contracts with the Air National Guard and Washington County were added to his work load. Soon, additional contracts with police stations, city parks, and adult family services came in. With each additional contract, his personal sense of ownership of his fast growing career took root.

“We got contracts with Washington County, accounting and public service buildings, later in July we got the federal building,” he said. Thair’s smooth operation, positive management style and strong sense of personal responsibility for his workers, became a real asset to the customers with whom new contracts were signed. He was soon promoted to assistant field manager. Five years later, a large janitorial contract with PDX was added to his duties. When he began at the Bonneville Dam, he managed a small staff of six people. Today, he manages close to 100 at PDX, PHC Northwest’s largest contract.

“I’m proud of my people,” he said, reflectively, adding his reward as a manger is to see his people evolve and succeed. “I love to see people develop. You get to see them grow from a shaky person into a very confident person. “

He shared a story about a young man who has been with PHC Northwest for 20 years who started out with a strong determination but few skills. Thair worked with him, customized the young man’s job to help develop his skills, and slowly watched him grow into a confident “go to person.”

“At first you think they’ll never make it,” he said, shaking his head. “Then you see them exceed your expectations. When you see people try hard, you adapt to them. Today that guy is just amazing. I could see his determination. He made a believer out of a lot of people. His willingess and determination to do the job is amazing.”

While there have been those typically challenging days, Thair has always expressed his mind, been willing to agree to disagree with his supervisors, one of whom he fondly calls his “beloved boss.” His current supervisor who has complete trust in him has given him full authority to run his projects completely as he sees fit. Through his commitment to professionalism, strong character and sense of personal stake in the job, mutual respect became the key to his long career at PHC Northwest.

“I speak my mind and there’s always room to differ because there’s a lot of mutual respect,” he said.

In 2003, Thair changed his position to project manager to allow him to concentrate more on the PDX airport contract. His determination to take his job personally and always put PHC Northwest in the best business light has helped his own success and ensured secure employment for his growing flock of employees.

“I take my work personally,” he said. “The contract with the airport is between me and the airport.”

Since that contract employs close to 100 people, he is serious about securing those jobs.

“I have a good team and a great support staff,” he said, typically lighthearted. “It’s a perfect support system.”

His employees and support staff may make him look good, but it’s his commitment that has fueled a strong incentive for everyone’s success, leading to a win-win across the board.

PDX carpeting on facebook

Last week, as PDX celebrated its first place ranking at the nation's best airport, PHC Northwest was on hand to join in the fun since our janitorial team has been cleaning the airport for about 20 years. Among the interesting things about this phenomenal airport is its beloved trademark carpet, which the PHCNW janitorial team has been keeping beautiful throughout those 20 years. Since we are proud of the work our janitorial team has been doing at the airport, we sent out a press release commending them, but forgot to mention that the airport is also so proud of its carpeting that the carpeting itself has its own facebook. Just for fun, here's a link to PDX carpet.

Emanuel Beng honored with Chief’s award

Emanuel Beng honored with Fairview Police Chief’s award

Emanuel Beng was honored with the Fairview Police Chief’s award on Oct. 30 for keeping the police station “looking professional and presentable.” Police Chief Ken Johnson thanked Beng for his outstanding janitorial service to the department. “Not only do you exceed expectations with regard to custodial duties, your bright smile and positive attitude lifts our spirit and builds positive morale,” Chief Johnson said. Beng’s supervisor, Tom Hayes, described Beng as both reliable and enjoyable to work with . “He’s a very happy person and always smiling, with a great personality,” Hayes said. “He’s also a hard worker and always on time.”

PHC Northwest teams up at PDX 'best airport' celebration







Liem Tran, left, and Kelvin Taylor, PHC Northwest janitorial employees, join in PDX  best airport fete last week

Sometimes a cleaning job is not just a cleaning job, especially when it comes to cleaning the country’s best airport.

As PDX janitorial staff, employed by Portland Habilitation Center Northwest, Liem Tran and Kelvin Taylor take great pride in the work they do at PDX, especially maintaining the airport’s vast 14-acre expanse of highly-rated and prized carpeting. So, on December 5 when PDX celebrated its first place rating as the best airport in the nation by Travel & Leisure Magazine, Tran and Taylor took it personally.

“I’ve been here 14 years,” Tran announced proudly while Taylor nodded and smiled quietly beside her at the airport’s celebratory festivities. While volunteers passed out pins and cookies, and dignitaries, musicians, artists, news people hovered nearby and travelers hustled by the clock tower, the airport’s town center, PDX corporate staff expressed pride  in its teamwork and vision to serve travelers, despite weather and other potential delays.

“Our team at PDX does a great job,” Thair Khan, janitorial project manager, said, commending Tran and Taylor along with the others on the janitorial team at PDX for their outstanding service.

“They may work behind the scenes, but their work is very much in the forefront of everything that goes on here,” he said.

Reflecting on the airport’s perpetual national success, since this isn’t the first time PDX has won top place among airports, Donna Prigmore, customer relations manager for PDX, said, “When an organization like an airport puts a lot of time into being the best it can be, it pays off.”

In addition to being a “beautiful facility with good people, amazing leadership with vision, PDX is a deliberate airport,” she said.

“We’ve always known how great the airport is due to partnerships and relationships,” Vince Granato, Port of Portland chief operating officer, said, adding “It’s the teamwork most of all that has made this the best airport in the country.”

Chris Neal, assistant federal security director in charge of screening operations,  agreed with Granato, also pointing to “teamwork and camaraderie,” as the two most important ingredients to building a “passionate team,” that genuinely cares about the travelers coming through PDX.

“There’s something different here,” said Neal, who is a newcomer to the PDX corporate team.

“There is teamwork, camaraderie and great communication on our team.”

While the airport has experienced a significant increase in travelers, up 6.7 percent, the airport has kept security wait times to 10 minutes.  Despite heavy holiday traffic and storm delays around the country, PDX “kept things nice and smooth,” he said.

“Ten minute wait times are phenomenal,” said Brian Gabriel, station manager of United Airlines which partners with PDX along with 13 other airlines.  “It’s fantastic the way the TSA gets the people through.  People come here, know it’s easy and ….,” he paused, then, looking down, said, “They know about the carpet. Everyone knows about the carpet."

Those comments made Tran and Taylor’s day as they proudly applauded, smiling knowingly.  They knew more than anyone else what it takes to keep the airport’s beloved carpet long-lasting and beautiful.

They also knew, along with the PDX corporate staff, TSA workers, airlines personnel and the many various vendors, that it took a well-oiled team to make PDX number one year-after-year.  They also are well aware they are a significant part of that team, a cohesive partnership knit together by camaraderie and a commitment to serve travelers that has made PDX the best airport in the country. 

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About Our Blog

Whether you're a job seeker with a disability seeking resources like our "Ask Demiko" column (follow @PHCNW_Careers), or an employer looking to diversify your workforce, this is the blog for you. Check back often for PHCNW news, helpful hints for job hunters, and the latest in disability employment.