Metallo manages new Global Travel Services and Security
Joe Metallo (STE) joined Argonne in January 2018 to head up Argonne’s newly organized Global Travel Services and Security team, making travel a more secure, comfortable and stress-free experience for all employees.
What’s your background and what attracted you to Argonne?
For the last 10 years, I oversaw a global security consulting firm. I was responsible for organizing secure air, land and sea transport often involving the coordination and protection of several hundred international travelers requiring 24/7 monitoring and support. Earlier, I was in law enforcement with my last assignment as an undercover narcotics agent investigating felony narcotics and organized crime offenses. After I was injured in the line of duty, I retired from law enforcement and joined the consulting firm.
I’ve had the opportunity to travel a lot in my work. My first international work assignment was in Istanbul, and I was there for about five years. For the last 10 years, I was based in Italy leading operations primarily in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. However, I’ve also been fortunate to work in several countries in Latin America and Southeast Asia. All told, I’ve worked in more than 50 countries.
When I saw the job description for this position, I felt the responsibilities were exactly what I like to do. It was an opportunity to apply what I’ve learned in my career and combine those learnings in one job.
And it was a chance to come home. I am a dual U.S./Italian citizen, but I was born and raised in Chicago. I am a native speaker of both English and Italian. In college I studied Spanish, including a semester abroad in Spain. So, I also speak Spanish.
What are your responsibilities as manager of the Global Travel Office?
It’s a new position that entails bringing together the travel functions that existed across several divisions at the lab and structuring them into a single, cohesive group. I’m responsible for the management and strategic development of the travel program. I’ll use my background in travel and law enforcement to put together a best-in-class travel program for Argonne … identifying any gaps, making the program more efficient … making what I like to call the “customer journey” more comfortable for Argonne travelers.
More than a thousand Argonne employees travel for their work — all over the world. What is it like for them? For someone who travels extensively, it can become relatively routine. But for someone who doesn’t travel as much — even for someone who wants to plan vacation travel — there can be significant stress and anxiety.
Knowing you have a team to help you from the planning phase, while you are away to when you return home, it allows you to focus on what is important. We will help relieve the unnecessary stresses of traveling.
We now have a centralized office that employees can visit. We can assist with the training required for some countries, pre-travel preparations such as getting your passport or travel visa, or one-on-one counseling about the destination people will visit. We’ll be able to provide cultural tips and other country specific insights that people might want to know for their destination
We have increased our capabilities to support travelers in the event of an emergency — say, if a traveler lost a passport or if someone’s not feeling well. Travelers will have a single point of contact to ensure they receive the proper guidance.
And when people return, we’re happy to debrief: how did the trip go? Did you run into any problems? Is there anything you can tell us that would help us improve?
Is managing travel risk a part of your job responsibilities?
Travel risk is a huge element of my job. The perception used to be that certain threats occurred in other realities far away from here … but now, unfortunately, we are seeing attacks in places we would have never considered such as in France, Spain and even the United States. Domestic travel and international travel need to be looked at in the same way in terms of travel safety. The level of risk may be different by country or city, but it is important we look at things holistically.
It sounds like the Global Travel Office will be a one-stop shop for Argonne employees.
Exactly. We’re here to provide resources — from helping you fill out your passport application to providing you the tools and insights you need to minimize any unnecessary stress involved with travel to having a single point of contact to help get you through an emergency situation. We are equally happy to speak to you about a personal vacation you may want to take. In summary, we are your personalized travel team. We’ll be communicating all about it very soon, in conjunction with a Global Travel Service open house this spring.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I like to cook, especially different ethnic cuisines. Whenever I visit a new country, I make sure to pick up a local cookbook. I have a collection of cookbooks at home — some of them from countries I didn’t even know existed years ago!
And, being a newlywed — I was married last September — I enjoy spending time with my wife and showing her (she’s Italian) the city of Chicago. It is incredible viewing the city you grew up in through the eyes of someone from another reality. We are really happy to have moved to Chicago.
What do you enjoy most — so far — about working at Argonne?
Argonne is a terrific place to work; I enjoy the culture of the laboratory and the people I work with. My team is fantastic and have already taught me so much. I appreciate the work life balance of the laboratory and the resources available to Argonne’s employees and their families. It is a perfect mix. I really enjoy coming to work.
— Interviewed by Kathryn Jandeska