We recently sat down with two Petra team members who work diligently behind the scenes to help keep the company and its projects running smoothly. Christina Gallegos, Accounting Clerk, and Dhana Nachimuthu, Project Coordinator, are both part of Petra’s Financial Controls group, which reports to Director Donna Campbell. They shared a peek behind the curtain about their work, what they’re most proud of, and how they define success in their own lives.
What are your roles at Petra? Describe what you do day-to-day.
What we do is ensure the financial health of the organization, make sure our clients’ projects are buttoned up, and contribute to helping achieve the financial goals and objectives of the company. We do everything from handling procurement and invoices, to preparing project estimates and managing change orders, to establishing budgets and schedules for projects. As Accounting Clerk, Christina handles the accounting responsibilities. As Project Coordinator, Dhana is hands-on with all the details of projects. Every day, we try to make things easier for the people we work with, so they can do their jobs. For every person in every department, we try to keep the process simple, be responsive, and be as helpful as possible.
In addition, we always work as a team, it’s never a “you” or “me,” it’s always “us.” We support each other at work and have flexibility from each other, our boss, and the company, which means a lot because we are also both single mothers.
How long have you been with Petra and why did you choose this profession?
We both joined Petra about 3 years ago, within a few months of each other!
Christina: I’ve always liked math and numbers, and I’ve always been fascinated by how things add up and work out. I got lucky that this job piqued my interest and I was able to get into the field, because I don’t have a financial degree. I love what I do, it keeps me busy and it’s never boring!
Dhana: I was hired by Petra in my final semester at California State University at Fullerton, where I was completing my master’s degree in construction engineering. I got my bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in India. I’ve always been interested in this type of work, and I enjoy being really involved in it. I get to be directly involved with numbers and with helping the company succeed, and that really keeps me going. I especially like variance analysis!
What are 3 words to describe your team?
Christina: Helpful, engaged, and dependable
Dhana: Supportive, enthusiastic, and reliable
What are the best parts of your jobs?
First, we support each other every day, we really do work as a team. If we need to step out of the office, or be at home to take care of a child, we support one another. We really appreciate and value that level of understanding and flexibility. We were told from Day 1 at Petra that family comes first, and the company really sticks to supporting that.
Beyond that, it is always exciting to see the final outcome of what we do every day, and to see that all of our effort and how hard we work pays off when the company makes it goals, and helps our clients achieve theirs as well.
What has been your proudest moment working at Petra or in your career?
Christina: I’m proud that I’m given responsibilities that I and others know I can handle. I’m proud that my team has faith in me to handle complex tasks that might not be easy, and they know I can get them done. If I don’t do my job, Dhana can’t do hers, and vice versa, so we’re accountable to ourselves and to one other. We make sure we’re on top of everything every day.
Dhana: I’m proud of taking ownership for my work, which helps increase value for me as a professional and for me a valued employee. I’m proud Petra sees me as an asset of the company and as an integral member of the organization. It’s a great feeling to be seen as and treated as an asset to the company, and I feel really proud about that.
What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
Christina: I’m motivated because I want to be a strong role model for my son. I want him to wake up every day and work hard at whatever he chooses to do. By seeing me work hard, I want him to know that it’s never a bad thing to work hard to be financially stable and to be able to have the things that you want. In fact, it’s a very good thing.
Dhana: We came to the U.S. as a family with my husband, and at first I wanted to show my kids that getting more education has no age limit. That’s how I started my life here. When my husband had to move back to India it became even more important for me to work hard as a single mother. That keeps me motivated. I want to show my kids that hard work never lets you down and always pays you back. I want my kids to know that we need to be strong and rely on ourselves, and that we succeed or fail by what we do ourselves. So we need to always get up, make ourselves ready, and get to the work of working hard.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
Christina: Most people don’t know I’m a die-hard Atlanta Braves fan, I love any and all things Disney, and I love to bake—especially cookies.
Dhana: Most people don’t know I’m a fun-loving person who likes adventure. It turns out I have chosen a lifestyle that is adventurous and there are adventures in the struggles. That’s how I define myself, even though people don’t necessarily see that just by looking at me. Most people also don’t know I would like to watch more scary movies with my kids, and that I have a sweet tooth—I’m a great fan of Christina’s cookies!
How do you define success?
Christina: At the end of the day, when you’re ready to go to bed, ask whether you are happy or whether you are unhappy. If you’re happy, that’s a success in my book. If you’re ready to wake up the next day and go to work, and it makes you happy, that’s successful.
Dhana: I think success is different for each person. How I describe it is this: I have a several of my own goals, and when I achieve them I feel accomplished. I feel successful when I am able to meet my goals, one at a time, and know that I am the one who has made myself successful.