What Nathan Apodaca's IT leadership role for NASA's JPL taught him about partnerships

March 1, 2018 Jenny Franchi

Nathan Apodaca, Leidos Program Manager — “Partnership is
a symbiotic relationship of give and take based on trust.  In business, the goal is to develop a strategic partnership with our customers that ultimately results in improvement in the end users’ experience.”

Nathan Apodaca acted as the program manager in charge of 100 full-time employees providing end-to-end IT user-centric services in order to enable NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) employees to have a mission focused approach. For 10 years, Leidos provided an integrated, managed solution for the JPL desktop and institutional computing environment (DICE), ensuring that this environment remained current as technology evolved.  The program managed close to 19,000 devices, including 8500 developer/managed desktops, 5000 security managed desktops, 600 network attached devices, and 4800 mobile devices.

Below Nathan answers questions why partnership is critical to large, long-term IT programs.

What does partnership mean to you?  

To me partnership is a symbiotic relationship of give and take based on trust.  In business, the goal is to develop a strategic partnership with our customers that ultimately results in improvement in the end users’ experience.  Working together to better enable customers’ utilization of our services and high customer satisfaction is how we measure partnership.

When did collaboration with JPL lead to better business outcomes?

The DICE program worked with the JPL Office of Chief Information Officer for one of the most critical mission in its history. The DICE program provided an extensive Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) IT Support and Event Readiness Team to monitor ongoing IT critical services during the MSL entry descent and landing. As a result, the customer awarded Leidos for exceptional achievement and dedication to providing IT support and services.

How do you strengthen partnerships with your customers?

I focus on building personal relationships and practice management by walking around. I encourage face-to-face meetings, a consistent business rhythm, and being open, honest, and transparent in all communications.  You cannot be afraid to fail, and when you do, you must be honest and open about how and why you did.  This builds trust and ultimately galvanizes your partnership.

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