A Passion for Nurturing Talent
Not many people can claim the broad background Mistra Moazami brings to her job as a manager and supervisor in APL's Information Technology Services Department. Born and raised in Tehran, Iran, Moazami lived there until she graduated from high school. She spent 3 months in Austria, then came to the U.S., settled in North Carolina (where she had family), and began college.
After meeting a fellow Iranian, who lived in Alaska, she got married and moved there for 2 years. She earned her bachelor's degree (in computer science and applied mathematics) from the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.
The couple moved to Maryland in 1990 where Moazami worked at Booz Allen Hamilton for 4 years, and then for a consulting firm, until coming to APL in 1999. As an IT manager, Moazami provides business application support to APL staff. "We build and maintain the business systems used internally at APL (Payroll, Human Resources, Financials, Reporting, etc.). "In addition to making sure our customers receive the IT services they require, I consider the people of my group and department to be my second highest priority." Moazami says she's "always had a passion for helping people grow and ensuring that staff members reach their maximum potential."
Moazami earned her M.S. in technical/organizational management through JHU's part-time graduate engineering program (Engineering for Professionals) located here on the APL campus. She's also been able to pursue another part-time career, teaching in the Technical Management program and serving as an advisor to graduate students in that program.
"Currently I'm engaged in a nice mix of technical and managerial roles, and I've been able to chart my own path and build a career that completely satisfies me," Moazami says. "The great thing about APL is that each department does so many different things for so many different customers. If you are in the technical or engineering field, there is always something at APL that you hear about and you wish you could be a part of. It's hard to imagine or describe, but once you get here you realize you didn't take a job, you entered a world of opportunities, and you can take your career anywhere you want."
Moazami figures that she knows people in every department and building on the APL campus. "There is such a diversity of people at APL from age, gender, education background, expertise, culture, etc., that there's no way you can't find a group that you can relate to or people to befriend. " She recommends the clubs, affinity groups, and social events at the Laboratory as great ways to find people with common interests. She's sharing her passion in a new role as Chair of the APL Chapter of the Hopkins Women's Network (HWN), planning lunch-time presentations and speakers, as well as encouraging women to participate in networking and learning opportunities to help them advance their careers. She's also a board member for APLPie (APL Parents Information Exchange), helping to host lunch-time seminars, presentations, and educational videos to make it easier for parents to balance work and home life.
One thing that she feels has been the most helpful to her career at APL is having mentors. "I had official mentors, but I also had people that I looked up to and sought advice from. Sometimes it is hard to have honest discussions with your immediate supervisor about your concerns, ambitions, and how you might want to get there, because changing your job might be one of the things you need to do to grow." She now mentors others, both formally and informally, she says, "since it was the most influential thing in my career, I want to help others grow and succeed in any way I can."
When asked if anything about APL or her career has been different than she expected, Moazami says "I used to have a rule of thumb that every 4 or 5 years I should change my job or company so I wouldn't stagnate or become complacent." But after 10 years at APL she says she doesn't feel like she needs to go anywhere. "I've worked in three different departments, been involved with a number of different projects, and gotten to know so many interesting people. But I still feel like every day is a new challenge. And I‘m still learning and growing."