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Dandy Fulfills Engineering Dream at Lockheed Martin
LaTasha Dandy knew from age seven that she wanted to be an engineer, hence her current role as systems engineer sr. at Bethesda, MD-based Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company. However, she didn’t always know what kind of engineer she wanted to be.
She’d always loved chemistry, so she thought about becoming a chemical engineer. But by the time she got to Tennessee State University, she’d lost interest in chemistry. So, perhaps, a computer engineer? That held no interest for her. “I wasn’t too keen on writing code for the rest of my life,” she says.
Undecided, she left school and spent the next 10 years working in retail, becoming a manager before returning to Tennessee State as an electrical engineering major. She earned her bachelor’s degree as an electrical engineer in 2011 and, three years later, received her master’s in systems engineering from Southern Methodist University.
While still an undergraduate, Dandy completed three summer internships/co-ops. She did data analysis for a defense contractor, assisted with updating the electrical systems wiring for a company that supported a U.S. Air Force base, and, when Lockheed Martin recruiters came on campus, she interviewed with, was accepted by and did an internship at Lockheed Martin.
Dandy worked with the systems security engineering team. She remembers: “The team that I did an internship with actually hired me on when I graduated.”
With a year of full-time work under her belt, Dandy was nominated and then inducted into the Engineering Leadership Development Program, a three-year program that gives its members the opportunity to rotate and explore different avenues at Lockheed Martin with the hope and intent of preparing them for leadership in the company.
During one of her rotations, she worked in supply chain as a technical subcontract manager working with suppliers in the field. “My last rotation in that program was into the role I’m in now,” she says.
She is a control account manager, helping the same team she started with manage their costs, schedule, and performance. She is also still involved in the technical side of the business, but wants to expand the program management side of her job.
She considers herself “the middle voice” between the people doing the actual work, which she says she assists with, letting them know what the execution plan is for success and the expectations of management, who need to be aware of any challenges and delays. Part of her job is to keep abreast of current data and to inform those on the three teams she supports who are not up-to-date on it.
“I love working with people,” Dandy says. “Had I not gone into engineering, I probably would’ve been a teacher because I love sharing what I learn with others.”
She also loves Lockheed Martin’s corporate culture, which she describes as one of accountability and where diversifying its culture - from race, gender, educational and background perspectives - is important.
She emphasizes the importance of building a network to help you advance both personally and professionally. Her own network began even before she came to Lockheed Martin as she was involved in professional societies at her school and in her community. She continued and expanded her network during the five years she’s been with Lockheed.
She also learned, early on, that it’s okay to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, whether it’s because you’re taking on a new role or a project you’ve never worked on before.
Go to lockheedmartinjobs.com to find out more about Lockheed Martin’s career paths.
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