When COL Vik Bebarta, MD from CU Anschutz Center for COMBAT Research first started looking for a virtual assistant, he knew he wanted someone he could build a long-term, trusting relationship with.
Working with the military comes with all sorts of challenges. It’s a naturally unpredictable industry, and the organizations that support the people on the ground have to constantly adapt to new environments. There’s not much room for error.
“We often move at the speed of trust, and trusting people who can take care of tasks, who accomplish what they say they’re going to do,” he said. Unfortunately, finding someone like that proved harder than Dr. Bebarta imagined, until he found a partner organization to work with.
The COMBAT Center sits at a unique intersection where healthcare, military, and academia meet. In addition to his role as director and founder of the center, Dr. Bebarta is an emergency physician, toxicologist, and professor at the University of Colorado and Houston Medical Campus.
He had seen his university and healthcare colleagues utilize virtual assistants in the past, so he started looking for ways to incorporate them into the center just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Once everything shut down, it became more critical.
“We had our biggest growth during the COVID period,” said Dr. Bebarta. “Having a virtual team for certain tasks was very important.”
What he needed most was someone who could take on administrative tasks, someone he could trust to adapt to the complex industry, so he could focus on more of the bigger picture items for the center. He was looking for a team member more than an administrative assistant, but that proved to be challenging.
A lot of companies that we looked at had assistants that turned over every few weeks, if not every month or so, which is not sustainable for us. We almost gave up on the focus and principle of using virtual assistance and virtual teams because of that.
Before the team at The COMBAT Center called it quits on their pursuit, they met with Delegated and immediately noticed the difference. Dr. Bebarta felt he could trust the organization to bring in and keep talent for longer.
Dr. Bebarata was eventually paired with Amanda Ray, an experienced administrator, designer, and marketer who has become a fundamental contributor to the center. Before joining the team, Amanda had worked for 10 years with large companies in areas like social media management and communications. That experience proved helpful to the center, who was still establishing its online presence when Amanda joined.
“I was one of the very first people to even be involved in the organization. So that gave me a really unique opportunity to kind of help build it,” she said. “I built Dr. Bebarta and The COMBAT Center’s social media channels from the ground up. They didn't have anything - not Facebook, LinkedIn, anything. So I took the ball and just ran with it.”
Dr. Bebarta recognizes the influence Amanda has on the whole team, saying she has “opened us up to new ideas and concepts” that they weren’t aware of before. He mentioned how Amanda introduced them to platforms like Slack that have helped streamline internal communications for the growing team. “She’s actually pushed the team in several areas,” said Dr. Bebarta.
Amanda gives credit to Delegated for equipping her and the other VAs well for the work they are asked to do. “I feel like I utilized a lot of the training that I received through Delegated and a lot of the software and technology that were available to me,” she said, noting how the team’s Slack engagement inspired her to bring the platform to the COMBAT Center’s attention as well.
These improved communications also helped the team stay organized when a high-profile Army General Officer came to the center for a visit. This leader led all research engineering for the defense health agency, so it was important for the center to make a strong impression.
“Every detail had to be right. Every room had to be booked. Every meal had to be set,” Dr. Bebarta said. “Amanda was essential to that, working with our team to make sure all those details were at the level an army general officer would expect.” The visit was a success. It helped set the COMBAT Center up for the future and paved a new direction for them.
Every detail had to be right. Every room had to be booked. Every meal had to be set. Amanda was essential to that, working with our team to make sure all those details were at the level an army general officer would expect.
Whereas most virtual assistants work with companies part time, Amanda is now a full-time member of The COMBAT Center’s team, via Delegated. Amanda values the opportunity to commit to one client, especially one with such an important mission.
“The COMBAT Center's mission is just really wonderful and what they're trying to do for the military and civilians in general,” she said. “It just feels really rewarding.”
That alignment with the mission fits with what Dr. Bebarta was looking for in a virtual assistant. “Our mission is to solve the US military's toughest clinical challenges. We want folks who were tied into that mission and are very passionate about their work… Amanda epitomizes that,” he said. “It’s very reassuring to know that when something comes up, she’s a step ahead of me. She’s willing to jump in and tackle that, or at least make initial inquiries into how we can move that or optimize that plan or program.”
I built Dr. Bebarta and The COMBAT Center’s social media channels from the ground up. They didn't have anything - not Facebook, LinkedIn, anything. So I took the ball and just ran with it.
Our mission is to solve the US military's toughest clinical challenges. We want folks who were tied into that mission and are very passionate about their work… Amanda epitomizes that.
Dr. Bebarta took the time to find a long-term virtual assistant The COMBAT Center could partner with, but the wait was worth it for them and for Amanda. He realized that “finding the right person like Amanda and the right company who understands our needs to our size was very important” because it helped them grow. Amanda noted how the social campaigns she runs have received attention from large institutions like Harvard.
She is happy to play a role in accomplishing the center’s mission, and Dr. Bebarta recognizes the unique value she brings. “We always say the smallest detail is as important as the biggest detail,” he explained. “So Amanda is working on these very small details that sometimes are as important as the big meetings when we actually end up taking off. Having that reassurance and trust in her is very valuable to the center and our growth.”
In the unpredictable intersection between three complex industries, The COMBAT Center’s leaders have to find the things they can rely on. Dr. Bebarta and the rest of the team have found that in Amanda. Her steady, quality work has allowed her to create a lasting partnership with the organization that serves both her and the client well.
That’s the difference Delegated brings to situations like these. Dr. Bebarta says that it wasn’t just about the assistant; it was about the matchmaker as well. “Finding the right company who understands our needs was very important,” he recalls. “Because of that, we were able to grow. Otherwise we wouldn't have hired someone or we wouldn't have hired good talent.”
Reliable virtual assistants come from reliable sources. For brands or organizations CU Anschutz Center for COMBAT Research finding those trustworthy sources can be the difference between a quick-fix and a lasting, full-time team member.