Melissa R. Ujczo-Kovachich is currently an IT Project Manager for the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
Melissa R. Ujczo-Kovachich is currently an IT Project Manager for the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Prior to federal service, she led the CNSI Information and Systems Security Team at the Albuquerque Service Center. As a former quality assurance and process design professional, she brings a focus on repeatable procedures and measurable improvement to the IT and security disciplines. Previous to her tenure in Albuquerque, she was Quality Assurance Manager for Compass Group, NAD in Charlotte, NC. At Compass, she led Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Capability Maturity Model (CMM) implementations. She also co-created the organizations first Project Management Office. Ms. Ujczo-Kovachich was a senior consultant for KPMG and an Air Force veteran of over 10 years. Ms. Ujczo-Kovachich is PMP and CISSP certified. She holds a BS in Business Management and a MS in Computer Information Systems.
1) What inspired you to work in STEM?
When I was in the Air Force, I worked in imagery. Back in those days, presentations were done with viewgraphs and imagery used film and chemicals. One day someone sent us a computer. It was love at first sight. It was so much easier to format imagery with computer. Then we began the exciting journey of sharing the imagery with other computers. I just never looked back. There is always a new exciting trend with technology. There is always another challenge.
2) What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?
What excites me is taking the potential in new technology and delivering capabilities to the customer which makes the mission easier to accomplish. There are a million details required to deliver a capability to the end user in a manner that makes it immediately usable. It is watching those details that brings joy to my day.
3) How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?
I was never very good at advanced math. I was also never encouraged to try harder with it. I think there is a perception that you are either a math person or an English person. In college I had a great Trig professor! He explained it in a way that I totally understood it. If I had been encouraged to not give up on it earlier in life who knows where I might have ended up.
4) Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?
IF you want to work in technology, the most important thing is develop the ability to learn quickly. Technology is always changing and you have to be able to pick up on the latest trend and figure out how that will bring practical benefit to your organization.
Also, it is important to develop a network of peers. It really helps to run ideas past people who will give you a totally unbiased opinion. I am constantly validating ideas with people outside of my work.
5) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?
I have been blessed in my life to work at what I love. My work is very much a hobby. Improving my approach and knowledge of technology I something that I enjoy doing.