Career Notes 11.28.21
Ep 77 | 11.28.21

Anisha Patel: Right along with them. [Program management]


Anisha Patel: Hello. My name is Anisha Patel. I'm an Associate Director at Raytheon Intelligence and Space, based in Washington, DC, and I work in the Cyber Protection Services Division. 

Anisha Patel: I would like to say it was some momentous, you know, like dawning of experience that I had, but honestly it just comes down to the fact that I grew up as a first generation American. I'm from an Asian household. So our focus was always mostly on, on STEM-related type of topics. So the choices of things we had to do in life always centered around science, technology, engineering, and math. 

Anisha Patel: As a child, I was always interested in math. That was my strong suit more than like the life sciences, so that basically ruled out medicine pretty quickly. Since I had a strong desire to focus on math, I selected engineering as my career choice. My parents were also from a math and engineering background. That's what folks came here from other countries to, to excel in. Stick to what's tried and tested as opposed to trying something sort of off the wall and new, because in their mind, anything outside of science and math was off the wall and new.  

Anisha Patel: I wanted to pick a bigger school that had more than just engineering to it so that it would offer me the option of possibly switching gears if I had to. From there, I ended up choosing electrical engineering just because it had a, more of a math focus and less of a science focus to it. In high school you never realized how few women there are in STEM until you get to college because, you know, in high school, everybody has to take everything. From there, it was basically worked for a year and then decided to go to grad school. And since I did still enjoy engineering, I went ahead and actually went to grad school at Georgia tech and got my master's in electrical as well. When I was at Tech, Raytheon actually came down to campus to recruit. So I have grown up in the Washington DC area my whole life and we'd always seen the E-Systems building. Everybody knew E-Systems, which was our legacy company prior to Raytheon. They always knew that they did, you know, the cool black world secret spy stuff. So Raytheon comes down to campus to recruit and I interviewed with them and ultimately was given an offer to join E-Systems in Falls Church, Virginia, as a hardware engineer.  

Anisha Patel: Basically building ground stations for the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle. Had some pretty good mentors that I didn't even realize it was not a formal mentorship, but people who suggested or pushed me into different areas of the company and different programs based on what they saw as a skill set that I had. I got requested to do a rotational assignment in program management, because I wanted to basically round out the engineers to understand the finance side. That was back in 2007, and I guess my rotation has yet to end. So, I went to the dark side and then the hole closed and there, I ended up. 

Anisha Patel: I've heard it said many time program managers worry about everything. Over the years I have realized you do worry about everything from recruiting to our people, getting their ethics training done on time, is a customer having a meeting that we need to prepare for, to now of course, these days, it's all about COVID and vaccinations and mandates and all that stuff. On any given day, I couldn't tell you what I focus on. You're always looking into the future as well as the present. 

Anisha Patel: STEM has definitely increased it's breadth of topics. So it's not as narrow focus as when I was in school that either you're an engineering major or your math major, or you're some sort of science major and that's it. Now, I think we've broadened that scope to include things like cybersecurity, and cloud architectures and things that allow people more avenues to get into STEM than what we had back in the day. I do see a lot more uniqueness of the candidates coming forward from a skillset standpoint. It's not just the traditional BS/BA and some sort of STEM-related career, but it may be a certification or it might be their career took a different path from what their degree was in, but they still excelled at it. I see a lot more females which is good. If you look at the latest college statistics, there are more women on campus now than men. The hope is that general population increasing to female makes means more of those females are picking STEM careers as well. I think even if you don't do it in college, you can look at industry and look at all these various ways that people can get into a particular field. 

Anisha Patel: In my ideal world, you would never even see the name of the candidate. You'd just be reviewing the experience portion of resumes and then deciding whether to interview. That way, you're not basically detracting yourself one way or the other. You're looking at what their capabilities are and you're not just narrowing it down to one particular type of skill set or one particular type of experience. You're looking to bring in that diversity of thought.  

Anisha Patel: I got results. Drove teams to their top performance and capability, and then held myself to that same high standard. I was not a do as you say, not as I do type a person, but I was right along with them achieving the best of me as well as the best of them.