[image-51]Name: Sanjeev Sharma
Title: IT Manager
Formal Job Classification: Computer Engineer/IT Manager
Organization: Information Technology and Communications Directorate
IT manager Sanjeev Sharma focuses on customer service.
What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard? How do you help support Goddard’s mission?
I manage and maintain all of the information technology systems for the Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate. This includes developing and managing websites and customized database systems, and managing our IT support contractors. I also spend a lot of time working directly with the customers resolving their computer issues.
Without teamwork or collaboration, my job would be truly meaningless. My job is to serve the customer—from the director to the safety engineer to the administrative support staff. Everyone in this Directorate is my client and the ability to work with a multitude of personalities is a job requirement! This job requires good people skills coupled with good technical skills. I really straddle both worlds, communicating with people and fixing technical issues.
Why did you choose your profession?
I have a degree in aerospace engineering. When the Challenger was lost on my birthday on Jan. 28, 1986, I was a senior in college and in the midst of an interview for an engineering position. Many engineering jobs, especially in aerospace, were lost as well after the Challenger accident. I couldn’t find a job, so I went back to school for a degree in computer science, got my first job in computer science and have never gone back to aerospace engineering. In 1996, I got a master’s degree in international management to help me to better understand the business aspects of engineering.
Why did you come to work at Goddard and what makes you stay?
I enjoy working in the aerospace environment. I’ve met a unique set of people over the course of the years and appreciate the flexibility Goddard offers.
One of my professors once told me that your first job should be for the experience and not necessarily for the money. I came to work at Goddard and liked the experience so much that I never left. Goddard is unique in that you can have multiple jobs over your career and never leave the institution.
What qualities help make you successful?
Listening to your customer or to the person on the other side of the table. Removing roadblocks. Remaining calm even when someone is tremendously upset, as in when their computer will not work properly.
You’ve been at Goddard about 25 years. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen?
One of the biggest challenges is that within the next five to ten years, many of our senior people will retire. The new generation coming in, as well as the people who are already here, need to retain their institutional knowledge.
Are you involved with any advisory committee?
Yes, I was a member and then co-chair for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Advisory Committee for four years and try to remain active in LGBT issues here. I am also a member of our Directorate’s Diversity and Inclusions Committee. Select members from each Directorate’s D&I Committee attend monthly meetings with senior center management, who are very interested in diversity and inclusion issues and concerns.
If you weren’t in your current profession, what would you be doing?
I’d be working outdoors somewhere, maybe by the ocean. I’d also be helping people, perhaps by working in a food kitchen, a homeless shelter or even building houses for Habitat for Humanity.
Is there something surprising about you that people do not generally know?
I have a motorcycle that I ride any chance I get. I’m also thinking of a theme for my next tattoo!
Is there some place in the world where you have been and want to go back and visit again?
When I was young, my family and I went on vacation to the foothills of the Himalayas in northeast India. While I appreciated it back then, I was too young to take in the overall beauty and complete experience. I’d love to go back now as an adult.
What subject, other than your work, do you know the most about?
I took a lot of astronomy courses in college. I have my own telescope and enjoy teaching my daughter to learn about the night sky.