22 Jan PM Profiles: Meet Rod Smith
Criterion’s program managers play a critical role in helping our Federal government customers meet their mission objectives. Each brings a unique perspective and background to their jobs, a combination of technical expertise and problem-solving capacity that helps Criterion develop and implement creative solutions to the challenges our teams face every day.
Today, we would like to profile Rod Smith, a deputy program manager supporting one of Criterion’s Department of Energy (DOE) task orders. Rod has more than 20 years of IT project management experience managing programs across the Federal Government, including the National Archives and the Defense Health Agency. He holds certifications in ITIL, CMMI, and SAFe, and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). Rod has a Business Administration degree from Santa Monica College.
- What would you consider your key subject matter expertise?
Managing large IT program\projects.
- What is an important lesson learned in that area that you apply frequently to add value to your customers?
I’ve learned that as an IT project manager it really helps when you have some background in IT work. It gives the customer the confidence and assurance that you understand what they want, even when they don’t necessarily understand what they want.
- Do you have a particular approach to solving problems?
I like to understand the interests of who is affected by the problem, identify the issues, and look into available options to remedy the problem.
- What drives you? What is the key to your success?
Bringing value add to the customer is what drives me. Not only do I want the customer to know there is value in having Criterion as their partner, but also that Criterion values having me as an employee representing the company.
My key to success is confidence. I’m confident that once I’m assigned to a project, I’ll be dedicated and bring value to the program by utilizing my skills and years of expertise.
- What do you feel is your greatest achievement in your role here at Criterion?
My greatest achievement in my role here at Criterion has been to rapidly learn the program in support of our DOE customer to ensure the team is meeting its obligations. I work for a customer characterized by high demands in a mission-critical environment, a fast-paced approach to solutions, and little-to-no room for error. By learning so much in a short time in my role as the deputy program manager, it has helped the customer to remain confident in our task order capabilities and allowed me to bring our current program manager up to speed in timely manner as well.
- What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you on the job?
I forgot my reading glasses and had to lead a meeting in a conference room from a computer. So, two people from the PMO staff offered to let me use their glasses, because I was struggling to read the computer screen. One of the glasses offered gave me an instant headache and my vision was even worse, and so the whole room laughed. The second pair offered worked for me, but I mentioned to the audience how those glasses made me feel like I could look thru walls because they were bi-focals. Everyone laughed hysterically. Honestly, everyone was laughing for most of the meeting because I couldn’t see the screen to do my own presentation.
- What is the craziest job you ever worked? Something that may surprise your co-workers?
I worked at McDonalds when I was 15 years old. I was as cook making burgers, nuggets, and fries; however, I had to also count waste. This meant I had to go in the trash bag and count how many nuggets and burgers where thrown away for the day. There was a chart on a clip board that you used to keep count. I quit that job after one week.
It may surprise my co-workers to learn that I have played in multiple music bands, including a jazz trio, as a percussionist.