Ask a Leidos Employee – How Does Diversity Enrich Collaboration?
As a spotlight speaker at the Leidos Career and Collaboration Event on January 31, Jonida Gjika will talk about how valuing diverse perspectives improves collaboration and has helped her teams produce better outcomes over the course of her career. Keep reading to learn more about her experiences and consider what you might like to ask her during the event. Space is limited, so register today to hold your spot.
Jonida Gjika on How She's Seen Diverse Perspectives Yield Better Outcomes
As the finance and business operations senior manager for the NAS Integration Support Contract (NISC) Division, Jonida manages a portfolio of 350 projects on a contract that spans ten years. In this role, she supervises a team of 23 financial analysts and works with the Division's program manager to lead more than 1,300 Leidos personnel, including 400 subcontractors, across every U.S. state and territory. Underlying her ability to manage such a large group of people is her understanding of diversity's value and how it can boost efforts to collaborate.
She empowers employees to collaborate by inviting input and feedback at the outset of any new project. For instance, when her Civil Emerging Leader Program team was charged with expanding contract growth, they first talked with people across the entire enterprise and from different backgrounds. She says that inviting their perspectives early not only informed which tools would be helpful, but also gave them ideas to enhance tool benefits.
“We asked everyone to weigh in, then consolidated their ideas and presented a holistic view." She says this view helped them produce an inclusive solution that addresses key issues and helps every part of the organization. In fact, multiple programs have adopted the solution, and many have seen more than 5% annual OCG (on contract growth) for several years as a result.
“One of the reasons I love working for Leidos is that we embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion, and this outlook has helped me grow my career." Another way Jonida has grown her career through collaborative efforts is by working with mentors.
Jonida Gjika on the Benefits of Mentorship
It wasn't until mid-way through her career that Jonida connected with her first true mentor.
“It's never too early to have a mentor. I wish I'd had one sooner. A mentor could have helped to direct me while navigating my early career and trying to figure out which part of finance I would enjoy and thrive in," she says. Jonida emphasizes that mentors can pull from their own experience to ask mentees key questions to guide them in the right direction.
Though she began working with mentors later in her career, she continues to finds it beneficial. In fact, Jonida is currently in a one-year rotational executive mentorship program at Leidos. Beyond this official program, Jonida has also sought other mentors and recommends that everyone work to establish a mentor relationship.
“Leidos has many resources for finding a mentor, including a dedicated mentorship page on our intranet," she says, noting that individuals can also ask someone in their current work environment. “You'll be working very closely with this person, so look for a good fit—someone you're comfortable talking with and who compliments your current knowledge and experience."
When considering who may be a good mentor, she says individuals should look for someone who can help them learn new skills or broaden existing ones. A mentor should also offer guidance on pursuing a career path and make introductions to help mentees expand their professional network.
“Leadership at Leidos is always willing to help when you need support. They actively support diversity and flexibility in the workplace, and they care about us personally—including our growth and our career. That's very important to me, knowing I'm not just a number."
To that end, we're hosting a virtual Leidos Career and Collaboration Event on Tuesday, January 31, from 12:00–2:00pm EST. Register to attend.