At SAIC, Jylinda White supports communications work for DISA
“We’re delivering something tangible” she says. “The Defense Information Systems Agency is saving lives and we’re providing tools to help them”
Jylinda White helps U.S. warfighters maintain information dominance and superiority on the battlefield.
White is deputy task manager for the Defense Information System Global Solutions (DGS) program in the Federal Communications Solutions business unit of the defense solutions group of SAIC (San Diego, CA). Her work supports the network engineering, furnishing, installation and turn-up needs of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).
“DGS lets the modern-day warfighter have video, voice and data anywhere in the world at any time, 24/7,” White states proudly.
Supporting the military
SAIC provides scientific, engineering, systems integration and tech services and products to all branches of the U.S. military, agencies of the U.S. Department of Defense, the intelligence community and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The company’s work helps solve complex technical challenges, offering solutions for mission-critical functions in national security, intelligence and homeland defense.
DGS is one of SAIC’s largest programs. White’s responsibilities include worldwide procurement, logistics, fielding, installation, maintenance and even decommissioning of five command and control networks worldwide. She provides hands-on management of the financial and operational aspects of the task, a goodly chunk of the $3 billion allocated to the overall program.
From her base in Falls Church, VA, White assigns and oversees the development efforts of some 250 techies worldwide. Coordinating this huge task with all its component parts is pretty challenging, she notes. Her duties also include fielding customer calls and running staff meetings at sites in the Pacific and Europe as well as the homeland.
White’s mission is to make sure her people have what they need to cover their part of the overall task. When an order is received, the material must be delivered to the field within twenty-four hours. She manages a maintenance database to keep track of where all the software and hardware is deployed, and to ensure the logistics of timely shipping and receiving.
“The networks are used by more than 500,000 people, so we can’t afford to have even one network down. We’re responsible for making sure that doesn’t happen,” she says.
Interning at SAIC
White grew up in Virginia in a heavily engineering-oriented family. Her dad is a dean in the school of engineering at George Mason University. She chose an engineering career because she liked finding out why things work the way they do.
She interned at SAIC for three summers while earning her BSEE at the University of Virginia. The internships let her work in various business units and look into some of the interesting jobs SAIC had to offer. “I also learned what I didn’t like doing,” she notes with a smile. She joined the corporation fulltime when she graduated in 2002.
White started at SAIC as a systems engineer working on mine warfare software systems in the Defense and Maritime Solutions business unit. “I went on three or four tours with the Navy, training them on the systems I developed,” she says.
She was promoted to lead systems engineer and deputy project manager in 2005. That was the year she helped her division achieve CMM and CMMI level 2 certification as a member of the quality process engineering group.
Last August she moved to her job with the Federal Communications Solutions unit, to work on DISA programs. She was ready to expand her customer base and wanted to move in the direction of program management, and the work DISA was doing with voice, video and data seemed a natural fit with her telecom background and EE degree. “I’m a program manager with an engineering mindset,” she explains.
Running a team
White describes herself as a hardcore tech, but she loves the people side of her job and running her team. As a project manager she gets to interface with customers to make sure they’re getting what they want, from concept to product. “We’re delivering something tangible,” she says. “DISA is saving lives and we’re providing the communications to help them do their job.”
White completed her masters in systems and information engineering from the University of Virginia in 2006 while she was a new deputy project manager. She hopes that she’s on the fast track at SAIC, and dreams of future leadership roles. She’s been featured in an SAIC recruitment ad, and participates in company outreach programs.
Her advice to others? “Get invested in the success of your company. Don’t wait for someone else to set your career path. Always be excellent, always be persistent, but always be humble,” she says.