Jacqueline Akinpelu: Assistant Branch Head, Information Systems Exploitation
B.A., Mathematics, Duke University
Ph.D., Mathematical Sciences, The Johns Hopkins University
What is your technical background? I have 30 years of experience in modeling and developing computer systems for telecommunications network and services operations and national security applications and also leading technical organizations.
What is your role in the Asymmetric Operations Department? I help lead about 110 technical contributors working on problems relating to finding and protecting information that is of importance to the country. This means that I assist with whatever is needed so that our staff can work effectively. I have a particular interest in making sure that people have what they need to do their jobs, whether that be information, tools, or training. Transitioning from a technical contributor to a manager has meant learning to focus on the big picture instead of individual projects. I particularly enjoy mentoring staff, providing them with a sounding board for assessing their careers and ensuring that they are growing professionally.
What do you enjoy most about your job? A big part of our work is helping the country find bad guys before they do bad things. We’re like detectives, working to put together the puzzle pieces of information that exist so we can identify our adversaries before they strike. I love the flexibility that I have to determine what needs to be done and then get it done. I also love the technical content of the work. The problems we work on are very exciting and often leading edge.
How does your position challenge you? There are so many opportunities to contribute; I have to constantly ensure that I am maintaining focus. As a manager, it’s often hard to stay on top of the latest technical developments as well as to interact continually with staff to stay abreast of their work.
How do you like working at APL? I love the technical nature of the work and that we are working on really important problems that directly impact the defense and security of the nation. I also love being part of a university and the environment of continuous learning. The people at APL are very smart and also very dedicated. There is a lot of camaraderie and spirit working on a team.