Mark Butkovich started as an engineer at SEAKR in 2000, transitioning into the role of program manager in 2003. His experience at Vertex Communications, designing and building antennas as a design engineer and later as a program manager, prepared him for his role at SEAKR. But his most treasured memories before SEAKR were traveling all over the world while on the job.
“I would travel internationally for several months at a time to oversee installation and sell off of the systems we were installing. Most of my contracts were throughout Asia. I would go to Indonesia, China, Russia, Hong Kong, Macau, and a few other places scattered throughout Asia,” explains Mark. “I really enjoyed my Russia trip. I really got to connect with people. I was working there for about two and a half months. Being able to speak the language helped a lot. Also, everyone was so friendly over there. It’s not the stereotype that you always hear. People were very friendly, very open. Even people you would just meet on the street or in the taxi, or hotel. It’s kind of like going to New York. Sometimes people on the street might come off a little brusque but once you actually get to know them, they are very friendly.”
While not all of Mark’s international adventures offered a sense of connection, none were boring. Indonesia specifically, kept Mark on his toes.
“The interesting side of the Indonesia trip was that I was there in the late 90’s. At that time, Indonesia was going through a period of social upheaval. The government collapsed and we had to be evacuated from the country. We had to race to get to the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. I abandoned my luggage. We drove in the middle of the night at 100 mph with the lights off because there were mobs of people attacking foreigners. Raytheon actually got us out on a private jet out to Singapore where we waited for a few days for a flight back to the US. As we were flying out there were Indonesian army people with machine guns at the airport. You had to give a bribe to get out of the airport. It was spooky. It was an absolutely beautiful country otherwise!”
After leaving his job in Texas, Mark joined the SEAKR team where traveling was not part of the job. However, in 2006 – while working at SEAKR as a program manager – he was deployed to Iraq.
“My time in Iraq was pretty instructional. I was over there with the Marines in 2006-2007. I saw a lot of very interesting things over there. I have been in the reserve for the last 23 years. I was doing reserve duty while working in Texas and at SEAKR: one weekend a month, two weeks in the summer and then I was deployed to Iraq for a year. I took a leave of absence from SEAKR and went over. SEAKR was incredibly supportive. They stayed in very close contact with my family: kept my wife and kids on the health insurance, invited them to SEAKR parties. They kept my position here and I was able to step back into it when I got home. It was a mental change of gears coming back. But [SEAKR] didn’t just throw me back into stuff. They let me re-immerse and support a couple programs before I was managing my own programs again.”
What’s next for Mark?
“It has been years since I have traveled internationally. Focus is family life: wife and kids. Travel just hasn’t been a priority. I would like to change that. I wouldn’t mind going to Costa Rica or back over to Europe or Russia in the near future…”