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A better world through a systems approach

Interview with Jeff Waits, CSEP

Courtney Wright

Sep 20, 2021

SEP Interview 29 - Jeff Waits photoThe following questions are from an interview in 2014:

Q1: Describe your current position/role.

Jeff’s current role is to establish formal integration and test processes for an organization that has been stove piped and where not everyone is yet on-board with the new processes.

Q2: What are one or two of your proudest professional accomplishments?

One of Jeff’s most proud moments was when he worked in the Booz Allen Central Maryland office. He established common integration and test processes across all projects.  Jeff was able to successfully implement those integration and test processes through field site deployment.

Q3: What is the biggest challenge you face as a Systems Engineer?

One of the biggest challenges Jeff has seen is that managers want to do Systems Engineering and SE processes.  However, when they get down to work, they do not want to do any of them due to time.  Thus, selling them on the value of SE and SE processes is the biggest challenge.

Q4: What advice do you have for individuals starting their career as a Systems Engineer?

Jeff cautions new Systems Engineers about becoming frustrated and urges them to keep pushing through challenges including selling the value of SE.

Q5: How do you continue to learn about SE? What professional development activities do you do?

Jeff engages in several activities in order to continue learning about Systems Engineering.  Some of these activities include reading of SE books and blogs, attending SE brown bags (e.g., Booz Allen sponsors many of these), and attending SE training classes.

Q6: What are the next career goals you want to achieve?

Based on the role that Jeff just took, his goal is to get the processes he established to work across stove pipes in his new environment and to get people to think “one team, one mission.”

Q7: What are some of your hobbies/interests outside of work?

Jeff really enjoys baseball and follows it passionately.  He also enjoys travel.  His goal is to get to all 50 states and as many foreign countries as he can.  He has been to about 40 countries so far.

Q8:  Are there any other final comments you would like to make?

Jeff advises Systems Engineers to start studying early for the CSEP program and keep at it! Do not fool around.

In 2021, we reached out to Mr. Waits to answer more questions:

Q9: Why did you decide to get the SEP certification?

There was a big push a Booz Allen to get people certified.   I pursued it to help advance my career, put the firm in a better position to win business because of the quality of system engineering we could offer and to improve myself by getting more familiar with aspects of system engineering where I had  little experience.

Q10: How does the SEP certification impact your professional career?

By learning about other aspects of system engineering that I did not do on a day-to-day basis, I was able to contribute in other areas as the opportunity presented itself.

Q11: What has surprised you in the past five years related to systems engineering?

It appears to be adapting slowly to other development methodologies.

Q12: What job titles have you had other than “Systems Engineer?”

Test Lead, Software Dev Mgr.

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