Q and A Session with Donna Warthen
What first sparked your interest in science or engineering?
I have appreciated science and engineering however my main interest has been in business which led me to a degree in Business Administration. I was pleased to join the NASA team as a Contractor to apply my business skills in support of the non-technical area of the organization. Since joining SDO, I have been able to witness the building of the space craft, the transport to Kennedy and its launch into space. I was very proud to be a part of the NASA team that made it happen.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
As a General Business Support Specialist, the things that I enjoy most about my position are the variety of tasks I perform and the opportunities to work with terrific people. I perform a variety of tasks and I feel my contributions to the team are essential and appreciated by my colleagues.
What advice would you give to students who would like to work on a project such as SDO?
My advice to students would be to learn as much as you can. Ask questions. Show that you are interested in learning and understanding your job. Engage your superiors and your team. Most will be pleased to share a wealth of information. Attend classes and seminars offered on Center—this will broaden your perspective of how you ”fit in” to the bigger NASA mission.
What do you do on an average day?
Volunteer when you see there is a need—volunteerism has the benefit of meeting and working with folks outside of your work area towards a common goal. Do not underestimate the power of the “nominal tasks.” Every task is necessary for the smooth operation of any office. A task done well will lead to bigger opportunities down the road.
I chose not to major in science and engineering; however, if you have an interest in these fields, pursue them; it is very possible that NASA will have a place for you in the future.
On an average day, my major task is to process domestic and international travel. I have been referred to as the “travel guru.” I also purchase office essentials, track expenses, schedule and attend meetings, manage communications and process badge, key and phone requests. I also serve as an events planner. I cannot do any of these things without having good communication and people skills as I interact with customers on and off campus. My goal is to manage my career so that at the end of the day I am effective at home, at church and in my community.
What are the greatest challenges of your job?
I consider every challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow. Challenges are good. I have learned much from each challenge I face. They have enhanced my skills which enabled be to support my team.
What is your favorite hobby/activity outside of work?
My favorite hobby outside of work, Wowwwww. As a wife and mother of three sons (one in middle and two in high school), my time outside of NASA is devoted to my family. However, I enjoy journaling, biking, scrapbooking, periodic weekends away with my husband of nineteen years, serving on my family reunion committee and meeting my girlfriends for dinner once a month. And my family and friends believe that I am an award winning culinary artist.
Donna Lorraine Warthen
General Business Specialist
Hometown (City, State):
Meherrin, VA (1 hour South of Richmond)
Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration/Office Administration from Norfolk State University, Norfolk, VA.
Include “for profit” and “non-profit” Accounting (AP, AR, GL, budget, bank reconciliations, sales and use tax and payroll); “for profit” and “non-profit” Human Resources (benefits administration including 403(b) and 401(k) retirement plans, salary justifications, recruiting, and payroll); and General Business Administration in “for profit,” academia, and government organizations. Employment pool includes Hampton University, IBM, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, SGT, Inc./GSFC, and now ASRC Federal/GSFC. I have been working at Goddard for seven years.
What influenced your career choice?
My natural gift of assisting others influenced me to work in the capacity of an Administrative Professional.