Name: Karen Barker
Organization: Program Executive Office (J62), Business Support Office (J621B)
Years of Service: 7 years in government service (9 years as a contractor)
What is your job title, and what do you do, specifically?
I am a program analyst with J621B, PEO Business Support Office (J621B) supporting the Budget Resources Team. My current role as the IT Modernization Budget lead is to manage and oversee the execution of IT Modernization funds. In addition, I lead the coordination and process of the J62 Program Budget Reviews (PBR).
What is your background, including experience and credentials? How does your background help you be successful in your current role?
I earned my associates degree in Business Administration from Northern Virginia Community College and transferred to George Mason University (GMU), where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems and Operations Management.
While at GMU, I worked full-time as a business analyst supporting DISA. My first job with DLA was in 2013, serving as the lead business analyst providing program and cost analysis support with the DISA Liaison and Hosting Office (DL&H).
In 2015, I was hired as a government employee with the J6 DL&H as a program analyst. Between 2016 and 2021, I worked in J64 and J62 organizations as a management and program analyst providing program management support and strategic analysis. In 2021, I obtained my Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act Program Management Level III certification, which has helped me be successful in my current role.
What aspect(s) of your current job gives you the most personal satisfaction? Why?
Developing solutions and processes that improve performance and help others is the most satisfying part of my job. I’ve learned that nothing about budgets are simple, but I always strive to develop a solution or implement a process that improves understanding or gives access to information they didn’t have available.
Working for DLA J6 is personally satisfying. I work for an organization whose mission I love, respect, and admire, and where I believe I can make a difference. DLA’s mission is critical to the armed forces and other government agencies, and it would not be possible without technology. I consider it to be the backbone of DLA; after all, there isn’t an organization or function within DLA that does not rely on technology to accomplish their mission.
What are some of your passions outside of work?
My passions include spending time with my three kids and husband and being active. During the weekdays, I always try to exercise and have encouraged the kids from a young age to be active.
I’ve also become passionate about exposing my kids to different cultures, foods, and languages. My parents are both Hispanic and although I was born in the United States, I consider myself Hispanic and am thankful for the experiences I had while living in Latin America. I hope to one day travel to several countries with the kids so they can experience different cultures firsthand. I think it is crucial for them to be more culturally aware as globalization expands, and to be more appreciative of the life they have in this wonderful country.
What advice do you have for DLA employees?
The only advice I have for DLA employees is to now more than ever, embrace change. Two of my favorite quotes are “Change is the only constant in life,” by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, and “It is not necessary to change, survival is not mandatory,” by Edwards Demin. We must remember that change is always happening and whether we like it or not, we must adapt. I know at first it can be hard and challenging to learn a new way of doing things, learn a new program or system, or change our day-to-day processes. Technology is exponentially changing and with that we must change our policies and procedures. It is not always easy, but it will benefit all of us in the long run.
What other self-initiated efforts have you worked on?
I’ve initiated several efforts to assist managers and team members alike aimed at improving performance and creating efficiencies within the organization. A few examples include:
- I created a cost analysis tool that revealed large overhead costs of DISA projects. Upon DLA’s inquiries to DISA concerning high overhead costs, the overhead costs dramatically declined, thus realizing an estimated cost avoidance of approximately $300,000.
- I developed a Total Cost of Operating calculator while comparing best value between internal and external hosting costs. This allowed DL&H to compare “apples to apples” costs and provide a more reliable hosting estimate of J6 applications.