Name: Brian P. Garman
Title: Director – Employee Benefits Shared Services Organization
What is the SSO and what is their primary role connected to PSA? Shared Services Organizations (SSO) generally provide “back-office” functions; sometimes including call centers, accounts payable, finance, accounts receivable, purchasing, data analytics, internal consulting, benefits administration, payroll and IT support just to name a few. It really depends on the organization and what role they want the shared services to accomplish. Shared Services Organizations are more common among large corporate organizations that have wholly owned subsidiary companies, or separate divisions within their organization. For example, Hershey’s Chocolate, Pearson Brinkerhoff (one of the world’s largest engineering firms), and Ahold Company (one of the world’s largest grocery store chain owners) to name a few, utilize shared services for a variety of functions. I am familiar with these companies because all of them have their shared services located in the Central PA area and I routinely talk with folks within their shared services groups. Our role for PSA is primarily benefits administration, accounts payable/receivable/treasury, finance, payroll processing, general and technical purchasing and contracts.
How long have you been connected with PSA? I have been with the SSO and working with PSA since July 31, 2006 when I started.
How long have you been in the airline industry? Where did you work before this position? I have been in the airline industry for about 11 years. Prior to that, I was the HR Manager for a lumber manufacturer in Central Pennsylvania. I worked there through college and law school as a general laborer before becoming their HR person. I also spent two years working in state government for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and the Delaware Department of Justice.
Give us a brief overview of what you do: I oversee all benefit administration at the Shared Services Organization for both PSA and Piedmont including the health and welfare plans, retirement plans and our workers’ compensation program. I routinely assist employees with whatever benefit questions/issues they may have and take great pride in making sure all our employee’s get a phone call returned within 24 hours of reaching out to us.
What is one of the biggest challenges of your job? Communication is the biggest challenge. In a traditional employment setting, your employees are centrally located and communicating is as easy as walking around and talking to people. In our industry, talking with people becomes challenging because our employees are located all over the country, in different times zones, sometimes working from sun-up to sun-down.
Does the SSO have other companies it does “back office” support for other than PSA and Piedmont? We are specific to PSA and Piedmont only, we currently do not handle any of Envoy’s functions.
What advice would you give to PSA employees having difficulty understanding their benefits coverage or having trouble with their billing? Call or reach out to us – we are here to help. I take a lot of pride in making sure our employees get a return call within 24 hours and in getting any issue resolved as quickly as possible.
What is the most common question you receive from employees? The most common question we get is assisting employees replace their insurance cards.
Where’s your favorite place you have traveled? My favorite travel destination was San Francisco/LA. My wife and I took an impromptu vacation to SFO where we stayed with a friend for a few days and checked out the city. We then rented a Ford Mustang and drove down Pacific Coast Highway and stayed the night at Lucia Lodge, a little 11-room hotel located just outside of Big Sur. The rooms literally overlook the Pacific Ocean and it has a great restaurant and really good wine selection. The next day, we drove into L.A. and saw all of the “must see locations” and dined in Long Beach. Best unplanned vacation I have ever had!
What are some of your hobbies? I love to play guitar, cook, brew beer and hunt. The best meal I have made (according to my wife) was handmade lobster ravioli. My kids love it when I make homemade pizza from scratch and I recently learned how to bake my mother’s Christmas cookies.
What do you love about working for the SSO? I get to work with the two best regional airlines in the industry, PSA and Piedmont.
Tell us something about your role that most people don’t know: I track all of my phone calls and literally try to answer my phone on the first ring (I have actually had employees tell me that I have picked up the phone before they even heard it ring on their end). In 2016, I took 912 phone calls from our employees and another 616 calls from our benefit vendors. The only phone calls I don’t track are calls from my wife.
What has been the most rewarding part of your job? I can honestly say, it has been talking to/meeting all the people I have met and building all the relationships with those people. I have been extremely fortunate in that I literally get to travel throughout our entire US network, whether it’s for open enrollment meetings or work comp training. Seeing my fellow co-workers is always my favorite part. Whenever I’m on an aircraft, I always introduce myself to the crew and take time to chat with them about whatever is on their mind.
Tell us something no one knows about you: I secretly want to work on the ramp – I love that type of physical labor and operating/being around large machinery. Being on the ramp very much reminds me of my days at the saw mill – during mornings in the fall, when the sun is coming up and the air is super crisp, the smell of jet fuel takes me back to when I drove a diesel forklift and loaded trucks with stacks of lumber.