Robyn De Wees is passionate about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). She wants students to embrace STEM subjects because they can expose them to a world of opportunity.
“After taking my first computer class in 10th grade, I wanted to study engineering but wasn’t sure which discipline,” she said. “Once I took the only programming class we had in high school, I began to look into computer science. As soon as I saw computer engineering offered at The Catholic University of America, I knew.”
Mentoring is important to De Wees as well. She is a mentor at the University Of Maryland Baltimore Campus Center for Women in Technology program.
De Wees also serves in Northrop Grumman’s Mentoring Matters program. She currently mentors three women, sharing lessons she’s learned.
“I love seeing the results of mentor and protege- relationships,” she said.
De Wees leads a team of more than 50 engineers and data specialists. Her Lean Six Sigma Black Belt experience contributes to her success as a mission assurance leader. She is sought after to provide support for risk-opportunity management, measurement analysis, and problem resolution.
“As an intern,” she recalled, “I was entrusted to work with our most difficult customer [and] accidentally deleted his database. After a few deep breaths, I told him what I had done and that I would stay until the data was re-entered. He smiled and told me I could return to my office. As I took the one-block walk, which seemed like a mile, I knew my bosses would soon learn of my mistake.”
The following has stuck with her since:
1.) Sometimes you have to be your own coach.
2.) We’re human and will make mistakes.
3.) When we make a mistake, own up to it and develop a plan to correct the situation.
Much later in her career she was reminded of the experience and added a fourth rule: Support people who work for you―most of what they do will be good and a mistake can usually be fixed.
De Wees is co-chair of the Northrop Grumman Information Systems sector’s African American Task Group Employee Resource Group. The group’s objective is to create a diverse workplace by attracting and retaining Black professionals.