What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard? How do you help support Goddard’s mission?
I am a Procurement Manager in the Mission Enabling Procurement Office, which provides acquisition support for the Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate. We mainly award and administer large support service engineering contracts, but we also handle a handful of flight hardware purchases as well as small purchases. Our office has Contracting Officers, Contract Specialists and Buyers. Only Contracting Officers have earned a warrant of contract authority, which allows them to contractually bind the government. Becoming a Contracting Officer requires extensive training followed by a nomination from their supervisor.
As a supervisor of thirteen employees, I review a lot of other people’s work. I always try to explain why I want a particular change made. This not only creates a better work product, but also helps someone advance his or her skills. I was lucky enough to have had people do this for me throughout my career and I learned a lot from them.
Procurements can be stressful and require all kinds of teamwork often from within Goddard and between Goddard and Headquarters as well as industry. Scientists and engineers are critical in developing our requirements. The Contracting Officers and specialists then can turn their requirements into a contract to get them what they need. Everyone works together to get this done.
I try to stay calm and keyed on the facts and ignore any emotions, which may be clouding the facts. I also try not to focus on every day issues, but to keep focused on the long-range mission we are trying to accomplish. At the end of the day, we are all here to further NASA’s mission.
What is the coolest thing you’ve ever done as part of your job at Goddard?
I was the Contracting Officer for the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) structure, which houses the main instruments for the James Webb Space Telescope. ISIM had to be very light yet strong enough to withstand the temperature extremes of space. I got to go into the clean room and watch ISIM being built. I also got to watch a failure test where we basically saw how much pressure it took to break the materials used in ISIM. Watching the pressure go up and up was very suspenseful, like watching a balloon being blown up and waiting for it to burst. When the part broke, it sounded like a bomb going off.
What makes Goddard a great place to work?
Our mission is really cool. Nobody else does what we do! One hundred years from now, people will look at Goddard’s projects as some of mankind’s greatest scientific and engineering achievements.
What lessons or words of wisdom would you pass along to somebody just starting their career at Goddard?
Find the career that you are passionate about. The key is to find something that you love doing, gets you excited, keeps you excited and makes you want to do better every day.
Is there something surprising about you, your hobbies, interests, or activities outside of work that people do not generally know?
I am a part-time DJ for weddings, private events, clubs and restaurants. I really like creating and controlling the mood of the room through the songs that I play to help people have fun. I constantly read the crowd to quickly figure out what they want to hear. The measure of a successful DJ is when people are dancing. There is nothing more fun than having a packed dance floor for a whole night!
Do you have a favorite way or place to kick back, relax or have fun?
I love to travel. I have been in 36 states and hope to see about five or six more this summer. I backpacked through Europe twice. I have been to Australia and New Zealand. I also did a 3,000-mile road trip through South Africa twice, which included a walking safari. It is so cool to stand 30 feet away from a rhino and you have the same dew on your shoes that the rhino has on his feet. My father is from South Africa so my favorite trips are going to Capetown to visit my remaining family.