Q: Heather, you were tapped to take over a new Facilities department, Site Services. Why was this new department created?
The teams that make up the Site Services department were previously scattered across the Facilities division. They each provide crucial and yet kind of invisible services to the Lab and it made sense to bring them together. Part of my job is to help these teams - and the entire Lab - see their value. A team like Transportation, Shipping, and Receiving is vital to getting science done. If you can't get your packages, you can't get the supplies that you ordered, your samples, your equipment. You can't do your science.
Another example is Custodial Services. If you're working in an environment that’s not clean, you risk your safety and your work. Custodial Services are there to make sure that we're safe and clean, especially during Covid. They’ve been just amazing.
Fleet Services, Food Services, Shuttles, Waste Hauling, the Guest House - all of them provide every day, essential services to smooth everyone’s working environment. I could give an example of how each group is key to our safe and comfortable Lab operations. My new role, and this new department, allows me to put an emphasis on improving both the services we provide and the working conditions of those who provide the services.
What do you hope to bring to the Lab as the new Site Services Department Head?
I have a lot of ideas, and I look forward to the opportunity to bring really good customer service. What does that look like? It's listening to folks and understanding, being available, and having options to be able to provide feedback. For example, last year we added QR codes to all the vending machines. If there's a problem with the vending machine, you can report it right away. It’s been a really successful tactic.
What if we expanded that idea to other areas? I was in a restroom the other day and one of the hand soap dispensers didn’t have any soap in it. I can tell the custodial supervisors, because I know them, and they can tell the custodian who works in the building to fill it. But how would another person report that? What if we put a QR code on the mirror or on the door so you can report it, kind of like in restaurants or at the airport? That’s just an example of an easy and quick way to provide a feedback mechanism and make people’s lives easier.
I want to make sure that we get the right level of information to folks and that we have open channels. All these services that we're providing help make the Lab run, and it is important to have clear information on how to report things, how to request things, and where to find the right information.
What are your biggest challenges coming into this new role?
I want to help my people see their value at the Lab, and how important their roles really are. One of the questions I always ask is “who is your favorite scientist at the Lab?” One of mine is Ashok Gadgil. I think he is phenomenal. He's solving such real world problems that have immediate impact. And then there's Mina Bissell, who does incredible breast cancer research.
We have all these amazing scientists who do such amazing stuff. And Site Services contribute to that, we support that. Connecting them to the science work can really help our folks see how they fit in, how important they are to really making the science happen, and really appreciating and loving their jobs.