Why this Leidos alumnus is happy to return—For good
Sandra Walker's story is one many parents can relate to: A young professional couple with small children decides to move back home so they can be closer to the support network of extended family. That is just what Sandra and her husband did in 1990, leaving their jobs in D.C. for their roots in Pennsylvania.
At the time, Sandra had worked for Leidos (legacy SAIC) as a project manager for nearly four years. In the time that followed her work at Leidos, Sandra built a career in the project and technology side of health care, working from nearly every angle. Eventually, she noticed something was missing.
“Teams everywhere were adopting new technology, but once they got to the end, no one really focused on the significant cultural shifts that needed to take place to go from a paper world to a digital world successfully," Sandra explains. She decided to proactively tackle the challenge herself by getting certified in organizational change management.
Recently, when Leidos renewed a product development contract that required formal change management, a friend who still had ties to Leidos gave Sandra a heads up. Her experience was a perfect fit. So, three decades after leaving, Sandra has now happily rejoined her original employer.
“I've been back at Leidos for several weeks and plan on being here until retirement," she says.
How Leidos differs from other workplaces
While away, Sandra had kept her eye on Leidos and was impressed by its diversity and steady market growth. She was also intrigued by the opportunity to work on large-scale initiatives that would allow her to approach solutions in a holistic way.
“I've been on all different sides of health care, but now I can use my full understanding and background in one place," she says. “Plus, I'd consistently seen Leidos do things better than others while working elsewhere." Sandra highlights this in two main categories: investing in people and nurturing a positive, stable culture.
Leidos invests in its people
This was something Sandra remembered from her past role. After all, she got her PMP while previously working at Leidos. “When people discover an interest here, they're free to pursue it. They can grow their skillset and evolve because Leidos truly believes in advancing employees' education," she says.
“And now as a 'new' employee, I have to say that even the way they structure their onboarding is refreshing. I have an onboarding specialist who guides me through, acting as my point person for everything and answering every question I have," Sandra says. “This investment shows that Leidos wants to support people by giving them an immediate solid footing while they enter the company. I can say that, after working at many other places over 30 years, this is not the norm."
Leidos leadership maintains a stable, positive culture
While Sandra notes that other employers in this space tend to be “a revolving door of people" and, therefore, never achieve stability, she has noticed the opposite of Leidos. This, she says, is because Leidos maintains and reengages talent while also consistently sharing a vision that people can buy into. Plus, there's a baseline of respect all around.
“Every person is an equal here. Respect goes in all directions, whether you're a contractor or an employee, a junior- or senior-level person, and no matter your background," Sandra says, explaining that everyone from the CEO down lives this value.
“CEO Roger Krone even spoke at orientation—that's pretty profound for an organization of this size," she explains, noting that even at much smaller organizations where she's worked, the senior leadership wasn't engaged with early phases of workers' employment. While seeing the grass in other fields, Sandra not only built a varied background and grew her skills, but she also realized how green the grass is at Leidos.
"I've been so at ease and relaxed since I've gotten here. I haven't been stressed at all," she says, also noting that she appreciates the improved work-life balance. “I've seen everyone get along and get treated equally no matter what. Those are intangible, cultural aspects are so important."
Interested in joining Leidos? Visit our career site today to browse job opportunities.
If you're not quite ready for a career move but know someone who is, please consider referring them — you could earn you up to $5,000 for an external referral. Finally, we invite all Leidos alumni to stay in touch. Join our Encore Leidos Alumni Network to stay connected.