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Keith Long, Amateur Photographer and Full-Time NASA Contract Specialist
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Whether it’s handling large procurement contracts for Code 600 or developing a calendar of his own photography work, Keith Long is up for any challenge.

Name: Keith Long
Title: Contract Specialist
Formal Job Classification: Contract Specialist
Organization He Works For: Management Operations Division, Code 210, Procurement Office for Earth Sciences

What is most interesting about your role here at Goddard?

When people think of NASA they usually think of science and engineering, but they rarely think about the business aspect of NASA. Many don’t realize that almost all government functions require the negotiation of contracts to support the various missions. I enjoy being able to apply my business and legal knowledge to support NASA’s mission of scientific discovery and space exploration.

How important is teamwork or collaboration with others to your being able to do your job?

Teamwork and collaboration are very important, especially when negotiating a large procurement including hundreds of millions of dollars. You have to work together as a team with procurement, industry and technical representatives to ensure everyone stays on schedule, and the customer receives the goods and services needed to accomplish their mission.

Keith at KSC, in front of the Vehicle Assembly Building.› Larger image
Keith in front of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at KSC, during his Procurement Training Conference. Photo credit Goddard contract specialist, Gustavo Malagon.
Therefore, I have to meet with my customers−Code 600 scientists and engineers−to determine their requirements. Once determined, I can then go to industry to see which companies can fulfill the requirements. From there, we produce a contract at a fair and reasonable price, none of which would be possible without collaboration.

Who is the most interesting, inspiring, or amazing person you have met or worked with at Goddard?

The most amazing and inspiring person I’ve met since working at Goddard is contracting officer and team lead, Makara Nevils. She has been my unofficial mentor since I started working here two years ago. Makara took me under her wing and taught me everything I know. She is a great example of where I want to be in my career a few years from now.

Keith in front of the Space Shuttle Endeavour Orbiter.› Larger image
Keith at KSC, next to the Space Shuttle Endeavour Orbiter. This was on a tour of the center, during his Procurement Training Conference. Photo credit Goddard contract specialist, Gustavo Malagon.

What was the coolest thing / best thing that ever happened to you at Goddard?

Getting the opportunity to travel to Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is by far the coolest thing that has happened to me. The opportunity came about because I submitted a request to attend a procurement conference and was among the select few chosen to participate. It was nice to see where the shuttle was built, after all, that’s what NASA’s known for.

What makes Goddard a great place to work?

Goddard is such a great place to work because of its diversity in workforce−ethnicity, age, gender, race, and the list goes on. This melting pot environment is ideal for collaborative efforts because everyone brings a different set of experiences, backgrounds, and knowledge to the table. Additionally, there are so many activities and opportunities for employees to get involved in an area outside of their normal work. You can volunteer to support a Center-wide event, take a detail in another office, join a committee, Goddard club or sport team, or attend the various colloquiums and presentations that occur monthly.

What lessons or words of wisdom would you pass along to somebody just starting their career at Goddard?

I would advise any new employee to work hard, stay motivated, and make a plan. If you have a plan you’ll probably stay motivated to reach your career goals. I developed an Individual Development Plan (IDP) when I got here, and it’s because of my hard work and motivation that I received Code 200’s “Rookie of the Year Award” for significant contribution to the procurement operations division, in less than 2 years of employment. I successfully finished the Professional Intern Program (PIP), Level 1 and Level 2, and obtained a Federal Acquisition Certificate in Contracting (FAC-C Level 1), with the goal of eventually becoming level 3 certified. Ultimately, I want to become a Contracting Officer (CO), which is within my reach as long as I continue to work hard and stay motivated.

Is there something surprising about you, your hobbies, interests, activities outside of work that people do not generally know?

I’ve always had a passion for photography. Over the past 3 years, I’ve been capturing portraits, landscapes, and nature scenes, and am in the process of publishing a calendar, slated for completion early December. In fact, I wanted to do photography for a living. However, I decided to take a job at Goddard realizing that I could still pursue my passion in my spare time. In addition to photography, other interests include writing songs and composing music, playing golf and watching sports. I also have a love for automobiles, especially muscle cars.

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Leslee Cork
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.