Jennifer Dorn Guevera pictured at home with her "Mexican warrior" - her beloved Chihuahua
Jennifer is part of Lockheed’s Leadership Development Program, which the company uses to groom its future leaders. As part of that program, she rotates throughout Lockheed’s information technology (IT) units, learning how the entire system operates. That’s a large undertaking, considering that Lockheed Martin is a leading aerospace manufacturer and one of world's largest defense contractors.
“Lockheed’s leadership program is extraordinary,” Jennifer says. “It is giving me leadership training, funding for my education as well as challenging rotational assignments. When I was accepted in the program, I had high expectations. But the program is even better than I imagined.”
At NJIT, Jennifer was a scholar in the Albert Dorman Honors College, which serves some of the region’s brightest students. And she also belonged to the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), which helps minority students from poor urban school districts succeed academically. She also played on the Women's Soccer team and ran cross country track.
Jennifer didn’t succeed at NJIT: She excelled, graduating at the top of her class with a host of academic awards.
In this interview, Jennifer talks about her job, her days at NJIT, and how the university transformed her – a city girl from a single-mother family – into a brilliant student who now has a brilliant career.
Can you talk about Lockheed’s leadership program?
The two-year-long leadership program is extraordinary. It provides me with leadership training, funding for my education as well as challenging rotational assignments. I spend four to six months rotating in different IT groups, and get to meet senior executives. When I was accepted in the program, I had high expectations about what it would be like. But it’s even better than I imagined. Each rotation I’ve done has challenged me. In all the IT divisions I’ve spent time in (system design and integration, account management services and network services) I’ve had the chance to lead teams of employees. I’ve gotten to travel to various states across the country, and each of my rotating assignments has pushed me and taught me to handle increasing levels of IT responsibilities.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
The most enjoyable part is the flexibility, exposure, challenge and reward. I am currently working on a corporate initiative program to design and oversee the execution of enterprise architecture for financial systems across the corporation. The assignment is mainly virtual, which means I work from my home office. I also travel frequently to different Lockheed sites across the nation to meet with team members, stakeholders and senior executives. The best part about my current role is that I foresee this assignment providing the next level of challenge and responsibility as a lead of various initiatives in support of the program. Another aspect of Lockheed that I appreciate is being acknowledged for my efforts. So far I have received Lockheed’s Special Recognition Award as well as a Spot Award.
Did NJIT help you get the job at Lockheed Martin?
NJIT was instrumental in helping me get the job. The university also helped me get internships when I was an undergraduate. NJIT’s Career Development Services Office critiqued my resume and helped me prepare for interviews. And when I was interviewing at Lockheed, the office helped me contact a fellow NJIT graduate who worked at Lockheed. And he kindly gave me information about Lockheed’s leadership program and helped me establish contacts at the company. In addition, I got great career advice and guidance from Mr. Tony Howell, the director of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at NJIT, which I belonged to.
Now that you are working in a competitive corporate environment, do you think you received a good education at NJIT?
I think NJIT gave me a great education and a sound foundation on which to develop my career. I’m extremely grateful to NJIT in so many ways. I came from a humble background, and the university gave me generous financial aid, without which I could not have afforded tuition. The scholarships I received covered all my educational expenses and allowed me to fulfill my dream of being the first in my immediate family to graduate from college. It also gave me the chance to do the things I loved, like working in a dormitory as a Resident Assistant (RA), participating in professional societies and playing sports. I was a member of the soccer team, the swim team and the cross country team. Overall, NJIT was a diverse and warm environment that helped me develop social and leadership skills.
At NJIT, you were a scholar in the Albert Dorman Honors College. How did the Honors College help you?
The Honors College offers its students so many opportunities to grow intellectually and professionally. The college took us on great trips -- I fondly recall our tour of Washington, D.C., where we met with our Congressional delegation. The college also offers great colloquiums, during which professionals talk about various topics and careers. Honors students take special honors seminars, which are small and rigorous. I loved them those classes. In general, the Honors College broadened my educational horizons, but it was also provided a warm environment where I made life-long friends. To give you a good example, two of the groomsmen at my wedding are graduates of the Honors College.
You also belonged to NJIT’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)? How did that help you?
Belonging to EOP gave me the chance to meet students and professors before my freshman year even started. EOP runs a celebrated six-week summer program for incoming EOP freshmen known as boot camp. It was during my boot-camp summer that I gained the support of my fellow EOP classmates, who helped me win the position of freshman class president. In addition to giving me financial support, EOP also gave me academic support with its free tutoring.
You were also very close to Tony Howell, the EOP Director.
Most importantly, being a part of the EOP family meant being able to turn to Mr. Howell, the EOP director, or any of his EOP staff members, for mentorship and support. Mr. Howell was like a surrogate father to me. Many EOP students refer to him, with reverence, as a “father figure.” And he definitely deserves that loving title. Like many EOP students, I was the first in my family to attend college and I came from a poor urban school district -- New Brunswick -- that didn’t really prepare me for great school like NJIT. I also grew up in a single-mother family. I had a few family problems when I was a student, but Mr. Howell was always there to help me.
You also have a master’s degree from NJIT in Engineering Management. Does that help you do your job?
My master’s definitely prepared me for my current career. As part of my master’s class work, I learned essential subjects such as organization behavior, economics, finance, management method, quality control and how to leverage program/project planning tools.
What is your career goal at Lockheed Martin?
My immediate career goal is to complete the leadership development program and become an enterprise architect. Enterprise architects operate across organizational and computing "silos" to drive common approaches and expose information assets and processes across the enterprise. Their goal is to deliver an architecture that supports the most efficient and secure IT environment for a company. I foresee the enterprise architect role (for a large corporate initiative) as an opportunity to conquer new challenges and further develop my technical, leadership and communication skills and take my career to the next level.
I interviewed you once when you were a student, and you said that since you moved around a lot when you were growing up, you longed for a house of your own. Do you have a house now?
I have much more than a house now: I have a loving husband, good health, a great career and an awesome dog -- a Chihuahua, who I refer to as my Mexican warrior. I have lots of awesome friends, too. On the one hand, I feel as though I could not ask for anything more. But on the other hand, I know this is only the beginning of my career. I have financial and personal goals to continue to advance in all areas of life. I look forward to continuously improving, living life to the fullest, as well as helping others as I move along.
(By Robert Florida, University Web Services)