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News | Nov. 1, 2019

SASE awardee off to promising start in Dayton

By Thomas Perry DCMA Public Affairs

Sometimes the most rewarding promise kept … is to one’s father.

Joan Garrett, DCMA Dayton Keystone electronics engineer, received a 2019 Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, or SASE, Achievement Award Oct. 10. She was recognized as a promising professional by the society, which highlights “individuals who enhance the scientific and engineering professions through contributions to the global business world, academia and global communities.”

Daniel Cuff, DCMA Dayton deputy commander, detailed Garrett’s mission impact within her agency role.

“Ms. Garrett was nominated for the SASE award due to her exceptional abilities to plan, organize, coordinate and execute multiple tasks in a professional manner,” Cuff said. “She completed the Software Professional Development Program in October 2018 and is currently a SPDP mentor to an engineer on her team. She demonstrated her leadership abilities by leading a Lean Six Sigma A3 project to eliminate wasted resources during software surveillance planning. This A3 format is called a ‘just do it’ fast-paced and short-term LSS project. The project had a return on investment of more than 800 hours.”

As the deputy of Dayton which serves as the area’s primary contract management office, Cuff also plays a role at DCMA Indianapolis and DCMA Cleveland — both tertiary commands of his Ohio-based office. The position affords him an opportunity to observe and receive feedback on developing professionals throughout his area of responsibility. His observations of Garrett, along with those from her direct leadership, were overwhelmingly positive, which played a key role in her nomination.

“Despite Ms. Garrett’s required Keystone classes, mandatory classes and Software Professional Development Program classes, she also received her LSS Green Belt certificate in March 2018 and DAWIA Level II Engineering certification in April 2018,” said Jason Edem, DCMA Dayton Engineering and Manufacturing director. “When Joan was hired, there was a large backlog of contracts that needed to be reviewed for software requirements. Each month the backlog continued to grow due to resourcing shortfalls. Joan selflessly volunteered to work the large backlog. Within six months, Joan had reduced the backlog by 77 percent. This was an incredible accomplishment in a short amount of time.”

Her performance was more rule than exception. Garrett’s leaders and coworkers speak glowingly about her daily production and her ability to naturally create a positive team environment. She is wrapping up her third year with DCMA, and is approaching the successful completion of the agency’s Keystone entry-level development program.

“Ms. Garrett’s professionalism is beyond her years as a Keystone engineer,” said Bill Williams, DCMA Indianapolis deputy commander and Engineering and Manufacturing Group lead. “She provides leadership and support to both keystone- and journeyman-level engineers. She exemplifies the DCMA Core Values of integrity, service, and excellence, and is well deserving of this recognition. She is very team oriented, a fast learner, and the first to step in and help others.”

While her current achievements stem from her pursuit of professional excellence, the roots of that success were established as a child in the Philippines.

“Joan’s father wanted to send her to college in the Philippines to be the first person in his family to get a college degree, but he could not afford it,” said Nancy McKinney, DCMA Dayton Engineering Team leader. “Joan was driven to make her father proud and started applying for many, many types of scholarships so that she could fulfill her father’s dream for her. Her hard work paid off and she received a full scholarship from one of the biggest corporations in the Philippines.”

She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering and was recognized as one of the top graduates from a class of thousands.

“My father and my family have been my biggest motivators. My father has shown me the importance of education and hard work,” said Garrett. “My family keeps me focused on my career goals.”

More than 13,000 miles away, those goals soon turned into accomplishments after she joined the agency in 2016. Her office teammates soon realized it was more than a job for Garrett. Due in large part to her time as a military spouse, she was excited to join an agency that directly supported America’s warfighters.

“My husband served on active duty, and being a previous military spouse, I understand how hard it is for the families to be separated from their loved ones knowing that things can change at any moment,” said Garrett. “Working for DCMA, it gives me the opportunity to serve our country and support the warfighters and their families by ensuring that they get a quality product in the field when they need it.

“Eventually, I would like to be a subject matter expert in my career field and gain a leadership position,” she said. “I see myself being able to give back by performing the agency’s mission and by being a mentor to others.”

While she is still in the early stages of her government career, Garrett often impresses those with more federal experience.

“Everyone at the CMO is very proud of her and very thankful that Joan is a member of the Dayton Team,” said Thomas Solosky, a DCMA Indianapolis Engineering team lead. “It has been an honor having a person such as Joan be a part of our CMO who has such a high internal drive to succeed but is also very humble and full of gratitude toward everyone she meets.”

Whenever she decides to increase her mentor role with the agency, the professional attributes she gained from her family’s wisdom and work ethic will impact her mentoring philosophy. It has meant too much to her own development to ignore. She will most likely tell her story of humble beginnings, strong values and a special promise to a father.

“I was finally able to honor my father’s sacrifices by having him climb the graduation stage to present to me the scholastic achievement medal that was bestowed upon me,” said Garrett, referring to her college graduation ceremony. “Looking back, I think I made the right decision in selecting an engineering degree.”

For the Philippine native, yesterday’s promise is fulfilled, while a promising future awaits.