#Innovidual Denise Perkins
We’re a company full of innovative individuals, or as we call them, #innoviduals. This recurring series highlights some of our best and brightest employees by sharing their unique wisdom and technical know-how.
Our latest #innovidual is Denise Perkins, Product Strategy & Customer Engagement, NASA NEST. Denise has a vast amount of experience throughout her career, starting in business development, enjoying rotations in capture management, cost volumes, price-to-win, and marketing, a trade she fell in love with. Denise’s career continued to advance – after spending 10 years at Lockheed Martin (LM), Denise spent time at Dell, ran the Marketing department for a mid-tier services provider and finally landed at Leidos in 2019 to support NASA End-User Services and Technologies (NEST).
Tell us a little about your job and the responsibilities that come with it.
My title at Leidos is “Marketing and Customer Outreach Manager” – on the program (with the customer), I am lead for what’s known as “Product Strategy & Customer Engagement.” But titles mean very little to me, and my role dabbles in a little bit of everything on NEST, including service delivery, vendor relationships, being a customer-facing champion, executing positive employee engagement, and at the core, being a champion of the customer experience (CX) at NASA. Day-to-day responsibilities include representing NEST to NASA, to Leidos, to partners, promoting the brand (purple and our End User Services Program Office (EUSO) customer), and as such, I call myself a “jack of all trades.”
Though I wear numerous hats, my end goal in all my functions is focusing on enhancing CX. I feel like my professional career prepared me for this job – I know contracting, I sold IT, I adore our customer and their mission. Couple experience and a can-do, people-first attitude, and you find a “NASA IT Girl” (which is what I personally like to call myself since I got that call in 2019 to join this team)!
Why is innovation important in your role?
Innovation is everything for our program. NEST transforms, and my job is to inspire, or at least make customers comfortable with the transformations that Leidos brings to the Agency. Change is never easy, so understanding IT and making the experience relatable and understandable is pivotal. My customers are the most intelligent, and most interesting beings on this planet (pun included) – our program influences the way they work – what they buy, how they function, how we keep them secure through patching and maintenance. Though we want IT to be seamless, we are always changing something, we are innovating, and upgrading constantly, At NEST, we offer both the need to know info to get the average joe the steps needed to complete a refresh process, and also the detailed guides to share with the rocket scientist whose computational knowledge could wow me for days, and is interested in the 1s and 0s. The spectrum at NASA is vast – just like space – and NEST is honored to serve, procure for, and communicate to the gamut of personalities supporting the Mission.
What does innovation mean to you?
Innovation means change, change means sharing, sharing means collaboration, collaboration means people. I focus on people – NASA employees need to do their job to support the Mission, efficiently and effectively, with as little disruption as possible. We’ve all heard the term disruptive innovation but from an employee point of view at NASA there should be as little disruption as humanly possible, Mission first. So with innovation, we care about our customers – do they have their user guides? Do they have the summary version? Do they have the enhanced version for those IT gurus who care to know more? Do they adopt the change? And if yes, why – if no, why not?
With a 10-year innovation roadmap in place, my job is to understand our plan, understand IT, understand our customers including their appetitive and acceptance for change and then to communicate the right aspects and explore possibilities to enhance their IT experience.
Are there any innovations or individuals that inspire you in your work? Who or what?
I will always follow tech wizards in the industry to keep up with trends. But in my line of work, it’s adoption of culture change that inspires and sticks with you. I have a personal role model that inspired me to love marketing and be an advocate of change and a voice for others. She was why I pursued a marketing master's and remained at Lockheed Martin for many years. Sadly, my mentor, an amazing human being to this planet both professionally and personally, passed away unexpectedly. Dana Jenson was the Director of Marketing and Communications for Lockheed Martin’s IS&GS; as the heart and voice of the customer, losing her was a heart-breaking loss to the company. I think of her daily and try to offer similar grace and the ease she shared with me, Lockheed Martin, government customers, to our employees, customers, and honestly any human being I come in contact with.
In my opinion, inspiration should come from those around you, and you should celebrate it anytime it is awarded. Life is too short and unexpected to not share, show, and love every moment of your day. Work isn’t “work” if you love what you do.