Leading Leidos Women: Bronwyn Hampson, Erika Killian, and Jennifer Snyder
In recognition of Women’s History Month in the U.S. and International Women’s Day (IWD), Leidos and its Women’s Network Employee Resource Group will celebrate with a series of spotlights on influential women at the company. The spotlights will run through March, coinciding with the #BalanceforBetter campaign built around the IWD theme. This third installment features COE Operations & Management Lead Bronwyn Hampson (Intelligence Group), Program Director Erika Killian (Health), and Program Manager Jennifer Snyder (Defense).
Read below, in their own words, what motivates them, what are their biggest accomplishments, and what #BalanceforBetter means to them.
Who or what has been your biggest influence in your career?
Bronwyn: My very first manager really encouraged me by pushing me outside of my comfort zone, and made me really look at who I was and what was important to me. He taught me that in order to keep good people, you have to be willing to grow them and be prepared to lose them from your area, for the betterment of themselves and hopefully the organisation. This opportunity for internal growth is a very strong driver for me still today. I was also influenced by a manager who strongly believed in work/life balance. He helped me see the importance of ensuring my family life and personal life did not suffer because of imposed pressures at work. This was an amazing lesson and one that I am a strong advocate of today. I understand we all have times that we have to do more under a lot of pressure, but these should not be allowed to become the norm, rather the exception.
Erika: My mother is my biggest influence in my career. She started her first job out of college at SAIC and worked there for 37 years, retiring as software engineering manager supporting programs like the Bradley and Apache, at the U. S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center in Huntsville, Ala. Growing up, I spent weekends at her SAIC office, playing in the computer labs. I followed her footsteps, from landing my first internship with SAIC in Huntsville working on the LandWarNet, and then starting my first job out of college with SAIC supporting the Army Test and Evaluation Command in Alexandria, Va., almost 17 years ago. I am truly an SAIC baby, born and raised.
, Program Manager
The biggest influence on my career has been the people I have had the opportunity to work with. I have worked with amazing people from a wide variety of backgrounds and each have influenced me to work harder, reach higher, and do better than I ever imagined possible. From the physics professor, retired Navy officer, former prisoner of war, to the dedicated office worker, each have had a profound impact on who I developed into as a professional leader. The encouraging team environment that has surrounded me for my professional career has shaped and molded me, allowed me to take inspiration and lessons learned from each of them, and use that to steer my career into what it has become.
How did you become interested in your field?
Bronwyn: I worked in a manufacturing company as a procurement officer. We were a small part of a company in a remote site to the head office, so we had no onsite IT support. I became the IT go-between person that did the leg work for the technical support people on the phone, from fixing a token ring network (showing my age here!), to mounting backup tapes and restoring data, to reinstalling applications for people. I really liked being able to fix issues and soon became proficient enough that I could do most of the small things without the need of the service desk. I started tracking and documenting all of calls for assistance and without realizing, I put in a pseudo help desk with knowledge management attached to it. I pestered the main IT area enough that they opened the doors to show me what IT support was and how it was run and managed. I was hooked.
Erika: Both of my parents were engineers so there really wasn’t much of a choice. With semi-“tiger” parents, I had the option of doctor, lawyer or engineer. I was taught to pick a field that will end up paying for your college degree. Since becoming a doctor or lawyer wasn’t of interest to me, that left engineering. It was a good thing I enjoyed building model cars and planes and electronics as a kid. My applied coursework in machine vision, cybersecurity and robotics taken my junior year of college sparked my interest in engineering.
Jennifer: I have enjoyed science, math, and the marine world since I can remember. Some of my earliest school memories are science experiments at the lab in elementary school. I also love the outdoors. Growing up by the Puget Sound I explored the beaches, spent time on boats, and hiked to remote lakes. As I grew up, I knew engineering would be the logical choice for a career but did not want to spend all my time in an office. Early in college, I was exposed to remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and immediately fell in love with the world of marine engineering – a mash of systems engineering, material science, mechanical/electrical engineering, and getting away from the desk from time to time. From there I took every class I could in marine engineering, internships, and never looked back. I sought out a career that allowed me to pursue this passion.
What motivates you to pursue professional excellence and achievements?
, COE Operations & Management Lead
I think things can always be better. We have a great team of very skilled people in this organization, and the ability to really make a positive change to our customers. I stay positive and true to that belief, and do what I can to enable success in those around me. I love seeing how our technical expertise can be pulled together to solve complex issues.
Erika: I’ve had great managers and mentors throughout my career who have taught me that the people are what make the work and company great. My professional excellence and achievements come from always looking for ways to provide the best solutions to my customers and making sure my team has the tools and resources to be the best for our customers. Without our amazing and dedicated teams, our programs would not have grown exponentially.
Jennifer: My sense of pride drives me to pursue professional excellence. I care deeply and profoundly about the quality of the product that my team and I deliver to customers. I want to lead by example, motivate people to be the best they can be by being the best I can be, and show that we can stand together and be proud of what we have accomplished as a team. At the end of each day, I want to look in the mirror and say that I have put my best foot forward and encouraged others around me to do the same.
What is your biggest professional accomplishment to date?
Bronwyn: I am extremely proud of our ability to be able to support the current contract. We have worked long and hard to realize positive results and have really improved the environments for our customer.
Erika: My biggest professional accomplishment to date is winning our NIH eRA software design and development contract re-compete in 2014, which resulted in me receiving Leidos’ first Program Manager of the Year – Small Programs award. The re-compete was extremely significant because the contract award was almost double our first contract. It’s a testament to our team’s dedication to technical excellence and the NIH mission with a flawless execution of our capture strategy centered on supporting eRA’s goals using the breadth of Leidos capabilities.
Jennifer: My biggest professional accomplishment to date has been how my co-workers and customers supported, encouraged, and trusted me to take the program manager and lead role for the Poulsbo, Wash., office. I was selected as a younger female from a pool of highly qualified candidates to lead a wonderful group of mature and up-and-coming professionals. My staff gave me the confidence to move forward and succeed in my leadership role. The trust that I earned and work to continuously foster from the staff and customers has been hard earned, enjoyable to pursue, and something I place great pride in.
What does #BalanceforBetter mean to you?
Bronwyn: In relation to International Women’s Day, I believe it ensures that we have empathy for the individual situation of all, regardless of gender. We need to ensure that the individuals are not lost in the whole and make sure that people matter in achieving our end goals.
, Program Director
I really can’t take the credit of having true balance as I have an amazing support system. However, to me, #BalanceforBetter means being deliberate about your decisions. Making choices that will make you well-rounded in all aspects of life. It also means being creative with your time to do it all while finding time to recharge. #BalanceforBetter is enabled by a great support system with family, friends and work. Without my support system, I wouldn’t be able to work, raise my kids and do all the fun activities that keep me sane such as volunteering, running and swimming.
Jennifer: I have had the fortune to be exposed to a wide variety of opportunities from a young age, discover what I want to do, and have a community around me that supported that. Not all women have those opportunities. For me, #BalanceforBetter is a chance to talk about ensuring that such opportunities are created for all women out there, for the next generation of young leaders to have role models, and continue to press forward equal opportunities for all.