Employee Spotlight

“At my last company I did programmatic support and learned about SPA in my research. I realized they were the company to beat in terms of impact on national security.”

Melissa M., an Assistant Program Manager supporting submarine security and survivability, exemplifies the art of the possible. Given her background—no military experience, a degree in French and International Studies—she would appear to be an unlikely candidate for a career in threat analysis. 

With the addition of a master’s degree in Security Studies, however, Melissa prepared herself for analytical work that feeds her intellectual curiosity every day. She has become a key member of teams that perform forward-looking, physics-based analysis 25-30 years out. She describes her role partly as a “translator” between hard science and the real world.

During her first 2 years at SPA, Melissa explored different potential directions for her analytical work. “At SPA we can indicate what makes us happy and what we’re best at,” she says. Her personal motivation is intellectual challenge and the ability to make a difference, in this case in national security issues. “I’m still amazed by SPA’s actual policy influence. We provide high-quality, thought-provoking products, stretching the limits of what can be done in a military operations sense,” Melissa comments.

She concedes that even after learning about SPA’s capabilities, she hesitated to leave her previous company. Fear of the unknown held her back until she thought about where she wanted to see herself 5, 10, and 15 years later. Melissa’s best advice is this: “Do you see yourself stagnant but kind of happy, or do you want to grow through never-ending new and interesting opportunities?” She moved to SPA and hasn’t looked back. 

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