In June, Harmony Myers transitioned from serving as the System Safety Technical Discipline Team Lead to overseeing the NASA Safety Center (NSC) Technical Excellence Office (TEO). Myers is excited for her new role as director of TEO and already has plans on how to improve collaboration among the NSC’s four offices and across the agency.
“I look at the NASA Safety Center as a team,” said Myers. “We’re providing a need for the agency, so we have to understand how centers are using our products and services, gain their buy-in, and make them part of the process so we can all work together to develop better products.”
In her new role, Myers is responsible for planning, organizing and directing a full range of integrated services including professional development opportunities to equip Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) community members with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to do their jobs, including the SMA Technical Excellence Program (STEP).
“Our office is about advancing the knowledge of SMA throughout the agency,” said Myers. “We really try to engage the SMA community to ensure our safety and assurance professionals are aware of the tools and resources available to them at the NSC.”
Myers has worked in SMA for more than 15 years and has experience guiding and influencing decision-making within the agency. After serving as a systems engineer, Reliability and safety engineer, and branch chief for the Space Shuttle SMA organization at Kennedy Space Center, she took the role of executive director of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) where she advised the NASA administrator and senior management on ASAP issues. The relationships she built while in this role have enabled her to seize opportunities for collaboration throughout the agency.
In her current role, Myers plans to work closely with both the technical fellows and safety program managers at the agency level and the SMA directors at the center level to understand the initiatives and best practices of each.
“We can take these ideas and apply them across the agency,” said Myers. “We can pull everyone in and be collaborative — that’s my leadership style.”
Diving Into Her Role
At the beginning of 2018, the NSC initiated the effort of evaluating STEP, the NSC’s career-oriented, professional development roadmap, by coordinating two deep dives into the program. An Independent Review Board and an internal evaluation team each performed an assessment of the program and provided feedback. Myers spearheaded the internal evaluation team and traveled to the NASA centers to conduct three focus groups at each: a group of STEP participants; past and current STEP Cohort Program participants; and SMA managers, supervisors, and directors.
“We wanted to understand if STEP was meeting the SMA community’s training needs and understanding areas where we can improve,” said Myers. “The general feedback we received is that the STEP program is great but there are a few things we could do to tweak it to make more of an impact.”
Currently, an analyst is reviewing the data from the deep dive results and creating a report on the findings. One of Myers’ goals for fiscal year 2019 is to use the final data to determine adjustments or additions TEO can make to enhance the program.
Goals for Improvement
Myers’ vision is to create an e-Learning environment to accommodate all types of learning preferences for the SMA community. She plans to take advantage of newer software capabilities that would speed up course development, allow more customized interactivity and include more learning options in fiscal year 2019.
“Everyone has different styles,” said Myers. “We want to learn how we can best tap into multiple preferences so that we are offering a range of learning to the SMA professionals.”
Myers knows that with big plans, come certain challenges. She anticipates that budget will be her biggest hurdle.
“A lot of effort has gone into creating our online presence,” said Myers. “We’ve built a large program with more than 300 courses and maintaining them and keeping them fresh takes resources.”
To overcome this, Myers will analyze the best areas to focus on that provide highest return on investments and focus efforts on the types of courses receiving the most attention. She plans to continue working with Headquarters on training needs and new course ideas.
“It’s about being smart with your resources and realizing you have to eat the elephant one bite at a time,” said Myers.