Pablo Vilaboa: When it comes to tech support, sleep is optional

Vilaboa remained at the office for days to provide technical support to officials at Southern Command who were responding to the earthquake in Haiti.

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Pablo Vilaboa didn’t leave the office for two and a half days after the devastating earthquake struck Haiti in January. He paused only long enough for the occasional catnap on a cot as he supported the military’s Southern Command in Florida.

The dedication that Vilaboa, a computer technical support analyst supervisor at Lockheed Martin, showed during the crisis was an inspiration to his colleagues at Lockheed Martin and Southcom. Vilaboa’s work ensured that the command had the information technology capabilities it needed to respond to the devastating humanitarian crisis unfolding in Haiti.

Vilaboa leads a team of 19 Lockheed Martin employees, which grew to more than 25 during the crisis. His responsibilities include managing technical support teams for Southcom and overseeing problem resolution for all hardware and software elements of the command’s data communications network. During the Haiti crisis, Vilaboa and his team ensured that the officials who came to work with Southcom had the necessary IT to do their jobs.

Jeff Schlotzhauer, a senior manager at the defense division of Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems and Global Solutions unit, said Vilaboa does whatever is asked of him. Schlotzhauer said that during his time in Florida, he heard praiseworthy stories about Vilaboa from high-ranking officials, co-workers and other government contractors.

“He always does what it takes to get the job done. He keeps a smile on his face,” Schlotzhauer said. “Pablo is not the type to go home.”

And go home he didn’t. Starting the morning after the earthquake as Southcom’s role in the response became clear, Vilaboa stayed at the office. When he finally left two and half days later, he checked into a hotel around the corner so he could remain on call while he caught small spurts of sleep. And even after he went home, he continued to work long hours.

“He would not let go. He would not just go home for rest,” said Gladys York, chief of the operations division at the Army Signal Activity for Southcom. “It’s a morale booster.”

York described Vilaboa as unquestionably dedicated and someone who shows a lot of enthusiasm even in adverse situations. Meanwhile, Keith Griffin, operations and engineering manager at Lockheed Martin's Doral, Fla., office, said senior military officials ask for him by name when they have a problem.

Vilaboa volunteered to go to Haiti during the crisis and went as far as getting the necessary immunizations. However, it was decided that it was best for him to continue providing support from Florida. “Basically, I offered myself up for anything,” he said.

One of his motivations was that he had colleagues from Southcom who were in Haiti at the time of the quake, one of whom died. “If they need something that I could do, it’s a lot better if I’m here than over at home watching the news,” he said.

He said he was proud of the way the military acted as a humanitarian force during the crisis, and when he talks to Haitians in Miami, they are very appreciative of his efforts.

Vilaboa is quick to praise his colleagues and their willingness to make sacrifices to get the job done. “My whole organization came together,” Vilaboa said. “Being a little organization, we were able to comply with this big mission without a problem. It makes me very proud of who I work for.”

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