Meet Lynne Hamilton-Jones, Sr. Engineering Program Manager

Criterion Careers | Day in the Life Series

Meet Lynne Hamilton-Jones, Sr. Engineering Program Manager

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Criterion publishes profiles of our employees on a regular basis in this column, as well as two other columns: Veterans’ Voices and PM Profiles, where we introduce our program managers.  Lynne actually fits into all three of these categories, being a Senior Engineering Program Manager and a veteran of the US Air Force. Therefore, we have asked her to answer questions from the different series. We hope this profile, and the others we have published, give you a good picture of the incredible talent we have at Criterion. Learn more about Life at Criterion, our military/veteran-friendly initiatives, and our open positions in our Careers section on our website.

Please describe your job: What do you do?

I am the Senior Engineering Program Manager responsible for the timely execution, management, and reporting of our Department of Energy customer’s Chief Information Officer (CIO)’s high priority cybersecurity capability projects. These projects are critical to the operations of our customer’s multiple networks across the customer enterprise. I also provide project management guidance to the great team of project managers, analysts, and matrixed engineers on the Cybersecurity Support Service Project Team performing engineering work, project analysis and project coordination for those high-priority projects. 

What are 5 things you do almost every day?

Each day, I meet (virtually, currently) with our technical project leads and analysts to ensure the full range of project manager duties across all PM processes (Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring & Control, and Closeout). I am usually writing or reviewing project documents that we submit to the client such charters, project management plans, or weekly status reports.  I also have meetings and ad hoc discussions with the PM, chief architect, and business manager of our Cyber Task order several times a week.

On a personal note, my husband and I usually speak with one of our two grown children once a day. With all our busy schedules, we know that this is not always possible, but a joy every time we do. Our son is a Captain in the Air Force, following in his parents’ footsteps.  Our daughter just graduated from Virginia Tech last year as a residential designer and, despite the COVID challenges, is already being recognized for her design work.

What branch did you serve in?

I served in the Air Force from 1984 – 2009. I started as an engineer working on secure communications development, then aircraft systems development and progressed to project management. I retired as a Colonel in the position of Program Director of $500M ACATI program.

What lessons learned during your service do you apply to your job now in the civilian sector?

First, recognize those who work for you, formally and informally – saying thank you goes a long way. Then, be patient and adapt the way you communicate when working with very diverse personalities.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

  • Strong communication skills to be able to communicate across multiple functions and be able to effectively communicate status and recommendations to Government and Program leadership.
  • Knowledge of project management principles.
  • Leadership skills are key. I am a strong believer that respect is not given but earned. This ability to earn – I have learned – becomes slightly more challenging in a constantly virtual world.
  • Because our projects support multiple networks across multiple DOE sites, experience with managing IT programs helps tremendously.
  • Be a very good multitasker within a constantly changing environment.

What would you consider is your key subject matter expertise?

My career has spanned program management and systems development. It is often confused with contracting, which is a subset of the acquisition career field. In fact, I began my Air Force career as an engineer. When I was young, I was always building things and math was my favorite subject. So, when the AF offered a full scholarship for me to become an engineer, it was an easy decision. I progressed toward project management as I became a senior officer and loved it. After my Air Force career, I focused more on cybersecurity management and obtained my Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification.

Do you have a particular approach to solving problems?

Once an engineer, always an engineer. So, I always frame the problem. Then I come up with possible solutions, analyze them, and then pick one and a second for backup.

Do you have a morning ritual? Something you do to start your day.

I believe it is important to stretch every day before I do anything else. I attempt to exercise at least 3-4 days week. My husband and I love riding bikes and walking. So, when the weather is not cooperative, I ride on a stationary bike or workout on our elliptical.

What do you like best about your job?

Working for Criterion has been wonderful. We have amazing talent on our task order at all levels and so many are willing to help others and do what it takes to make our client and Criterion successful. 

What is the craziest/oddest job you have ever had? Something that might surprise your peers?

I have had a relatively boring career in terms of craziness. I have had some unexpected turns in most of my jobs, some more unexpected than others. Probably the most unexpected turn was when I was working in the Pentagon as the Military Deputy to the Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment. My primary focus was to be his military advisor on establishing infrastructure goals in the areas of military, housing, energy, etc. All that changed after September 11, 2001 when we added recovery, damage assessment and rebuild of the Pentagon to our focus.