How do you support NNSA?
I have supported the Office of Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence (NSDD) for little over three years, currently as Senior Cost Analyst for the Ukraine team. I support NSDD’s Ukraine project by keeping track of funding and costs, assisting with documentation on equipment deliveries, and more.
What is your personal or cultural background, and how has that shaped you and your approach to your career?
I identify as a Vietnamese-Chinese American. Living in a three-generation immigrant household, my work ethic was instilled by both my parents and grandparents at a young age. They inspired me to take on new challenges and do my best at every task at hand. By taking the “be a sponge” approach, I have been able to learn and find as many efficient processes as possible in each role I take on.
What did you study in school and how did it impact you personally and professionally?
I studied economics at the University of Maryland, College Park (go Terps!) It had a profound impact on me personally and professionally as it helped me approach situations on a macro and micro level for anything, whether it be projects at work, vacations, or simply balancing my own finances.
What led you to a career in nuclear security?
NSDD allowed me to bring my love for working with numbers into an absolutely exciting and niche field!
An expert doing something a certain way for 10 years can greatly benefit from another individual who has encountered different experiences in their lifetime. These differences are what make up a strong team who can ultimately work together with their well-rounded knowledge to come up with new solutions to tackle any issues at hand.
What is the best part about your job?
The opportunity to work alongside the amazing and talented people. It’s my favorite part of each day!
What is your proudest accomplishment while working at NNSA?
I helped revamp our budget’s baseline change request process, essentially going from something that took a few hours each month, down to 30 minutes.
Tell us something interesting about yourself.
I partake in local trivia contests and build lots of character supporting the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Wizards. I once scored a perfect 300 on Wii Bowling.
Do you have any highlights from your time supporting NNSA?
Supporting the Green Border Security Initiative projects has been exciting – all the way from learning about it to supporting the initiative’s multiple projects. (The initiative inserts radiation detection and interdiction capability in the areas between official border crossing points, along proven smuggling routes, and near unstable or uncontrolled territories.)
What advice would you have for anyone interested in a career in nuclear security?
I am not a nuclear security expert by any means, but I would greatly encourage coming in with an open mind and be willing to learn. When I joined, my knowledge on radiological nuclear material was a 1/10. Now, I think it is a 2/10 so I can safely say I’ve doubled my knowledge in the field.
Why do you think diversity and inclusion is important to your profession?
It inspires others who share less-represented backgrounds to join the mission space with new perspectives. An expert doing something a certain way for 10 years can greatly benefit from another individual who has encountered different experiences in their lifetime. These differences are what make up a strong team who can ultimately work together with their well-rounded knowledge to come up with new solutions to tackle any issues at hand.