Program helps new Sandians get started on the right path
It’s not easy starting a new job. You have new co-workers, a different corporate structure, and baffling acronyms to get to know. You may get lost in unfamiliar hallways or confounded in an array of numbered buildings.
Advancing the Next Generation of Leadership Excellence (ANGLE), a Sandia affinity group, is here to help employees — new and established — connect and excel. ANGLE began in 2007 as the Sandia chapter of North American Young Generation in Nuclear, but has grown from a nuclear engineering-focused early career group to one that serves all Sandians.
“Sandia is big and it can be hard to connect across the Labs outside of your own department, especially if you are building your professional portfolio early in your career, or if you are new to Sandia. But everyone benefits from growing their network, continual professional development, and giving back to the Sandia and Albuquerque communities,” says Amber Dagel, vice chair of ANGLE.
ANGLE’s members come from every center across the Labs and include people who have only been at Sandia a few months to those who have been here for more than 20 years. In 2014, the ANGLE group mailing list reached 200 people, but it now has 450 members, says Lia Kashdan, chair of ANGLE. This growth corresponds to an 11 percent growth of the Labs workforce in fiscal year 2015.
The ANGLE board wants to serve everyone who joins the group and provide content that they want to see, says Lia. From September 2014 to September 2015 ANGLE hosted 35 events in four areas: professional development, networking and social activities, community service, and science outreach.
Developing professional skills
“Professional development talks are helpful for everyone, no matter where you are in your career. All of our talks are open to everyone, so anyone who wants to come can come,” says Susan Stevens-Adams, professional development co-chair. Susan and Danielle Thomas, the other professional development co-chair, plan sessions every six weeks or so on topics of interest to both technical and support staff.
Past events have run the gamut. Jennifer Stinebaugh of the Ombuds office presented on different styles of conflict resolution. Mark Timms talked about an inventive problem-solving technique. Vaughn Halford spoke on ways to improve quality. Steve Rottler talked about what it means to be a Sandian. Bill Rhodes presented on the getting things done methodology based on a book by David Allen. Bill’s productivity talk was such a hit, ANGLE had him come back and give an encore presentation, says Amber Dagel. Many of the recent professional development talks can be found on ANGLE’s website tiny.sandia.gov/ANGLE.
ANGLE is a co-sponsor for the “How to be an Effective PI” workshop series along with the Research Leadership Team and the Advanced Strategic Training Program. A full-day workshop on project planning, managing programs, and leading teams was held Jan. 20.
Making a community
“We are trying to touch on all of the cornerstones of what it takes to have a successful career here. That means both building your skills and professional relationships at work and being happy and content in Albuquerque. Making friends is really important. Meeting people and building those relationships is critical. It’s important to feel like you are a part of something,” says Amber.
The first Wednesday of every month ANGLE reserves a table in the Thunderbird Café during lunch. It’s a convivial gathering of old friends and newcomers. After informal introductions — name, organization number, and length of time at the Labs — conversations about the weather, intramural sports, and popular movies ensue.
Other ANGLE social events have included happy hours, biking to the Balloon Fiesta, potlucks, go-karting, and an annual holiday bowling and white elephant gift exchange.
Whether you eat lunch together or go bowling, getting to know other folks at Sandia on a personal level makes your work day more pleasant, says Amber. Meeting people in other divisions can help you with your job, as you can call them up and ask them if they know anyone with particular skills to help you with your project, she adds.
Lia says, “What we want to do is to make a community here. If you have friends and you have a strong support system, you will thrive because you’re happy where you are. To be successful you need to have a support system at work, feel valued by your managers and your peers, and have a good friend group who, again, supports you.”
Connecting and giving back
Sandians have a privileged role in the Albuquerque community, says Amber. “It’s our responsibility to give back. We do that through ANGLE, and it’s another opportunity to connect with the community and to connect with one another.”
One of Lia’s favorite ANGLE events was a science outreach activity in January 2015. Volunteers designed, prepared, and judged portions of a Science Olympiad competition. Part of what made it so special to Lia was that she participated in Science Olympiad during high school. Building trebuchets and bottle rockets were precursors to her current position as a mechanical engineer in nuclear weapons systems engineering, she says.
On Nov. 13 and 14, ANGLE volunteers helped run a booth at the Big Brothers Big Sisters Discovery Festival. Elementary, middle, and high school students from around the area attended and took part in hands-on activities at booths run
by Explora, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Air Force Research Laboratory, and many others. Sandia’s Robotic and Security Systems Dept. 6532 had a robot the children could direct around several orange cones and kits to construct a circuit to launch a flying saucer into the air.
ANGLE will be volunteering at the New Mexico Regional Middle School Science Bowl on Jan. 23. Beyond science outreach events, ANGLE has participated in numerous community service activities. ANGLE volunteers have cooked dinner at the Ronald McDonald House, helped out with the Stamp Out Hunger food drive, and worked at the Roadrunner Food Bank.
“If people have ideas regarding activities that they’d like to do or professional development talks that they’d like to hear, please let us know. We want to do whatever we can to help Sandians flourish in their career or their social life,” says Susan.
Other groups also are involved in ensuring the success of new Sandians. These groups include the Postdoctoral Professional Development Program, the Excellence from the Start program, Sandia Women’s Action Network, and a new Early Career Outreach group.