Advocating with Agility

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By Daniela as told to Caroline Mroz

At 18, I left my home country of Bulgaria to pursue my bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Oklahoma as I felt there would be better long-term career opportunities for me in the United States. Being in a new place with no friends or relatives to rely on, I quickly realized I needed to become my own advocate and be vocal about my goals and aspirations in order to succeed.

After earning my master’s degree in accounting from the University of Virginia, I started my professional career in the finance and accounting field. However, after transitioning to a project budget manager role, I discovered my passion for project management and obtained a Kaizen Coach certification. This certification allowed me to lead process improvement projects using Lean project management principles, which focus on continuously improving efficiency and eliminating waste. But it wasn’t until 2018, while pursuing my project management certification at the University of California, Los Angeles, that I was formally introduced to the Lean-Agile methodology.

Agile, which allows for iterative product development with frequent customer interaction and feedback, gets the customer a basic working version of the product early on. The team releases additional functionalities with each product iteration, always ensuring the product meets the customer’s expectations. Earlier in my professional experience, I had witnessed the failure of several projects that were managed in the traditional Waterfall approach, where the solution is delivered in a single implementation and integration at the end of the project. By the time the solution was delivered, it no longer met the customer’s need because technology had evolved from when the project was first initiated. Due to these experiences, the iterative and feedback-driven Agile principles made sense to me.

“I’m proud to be supporting technologies that will empower my colleagues to advocate for themselves, the products they work on and the missions they serve in new ways.”

— Daniela

I joined Northrop Grumman as a project manager in 2019 and, last year, with the help of my manager, I seized the opportunity to become a scrum master (i.e., the team’s Agile subject matter expert and coach) for an initiative that aims to digitally transform our manufacturing facilities’ shop floors. Imagine if, with the help of augmented reality goggles or a mobile device, a technician could see not only their physical work environment, but an overlay of a digital interface that provides step-by-step instructions, captures photos or even calls a colleague for help. In our factories of the future, the virtual and physical world will be fully integrated across not just the manufacturing process but the entire life of a product, and this digital companion will make that virtual world more accessible on the shop floor while increasing efficiency and accuracy, enhancing safety and improving collaboration.

Through my work on Northrop Grumman’s digital transformation efforts, I’m proud to be supporting technologies that will empower my colleagues to advocate for themselves, the products they work on and the missions they serve in new ways — a win-win for both our team and our customers.

Learn more about Northrop Grumman’s digital transformation.

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