Systems, Engineering and Missiles Oh My! With Samantha Lickteig
Updated: May 17
Juanita Coley: Hey, guys, and welcome to Call Center Chronicles. It is Juanita Coley here, again the founder of Solid Rock Consulting in show guests. So, I'm super excited to have you all with me today. We've been having some great guests come on the show after show. Today is no different. We got to give you all of the good call center conversation and just industry women leading in technology conversation.
So, if you all did not tune in to last week's show with Cameron, okay, I highly recommend that you go and watch the episode. So last week, I asked Cameron, Cameron, what makes a good leader, and when I tell you he dropped gem after gem, I felt obligated to recap the show because it was just so many gems that he left so I'm going to give you all a quick recap.
I'm going to bless your life today. Okay. So, I asked Cameron, I said Cameron, what makes a good leader? and Cameron began to talk, he put in an acronym for us, okay, so his acronym was value and value stood for a good leader has vision, and they are visible. Alright, so being a good leader, you have vision foresight and you are visible with your people, you are in the forefront and you're out leading.
The A stood for being approachable and accountable. So, not only can people approach you and come to you to voice their different concerns, and different things like that we have this open-door policy that we like to talk about in the corporate environment, but that you're also accountable to your people as well. That's part of what makes a good leader.
And then the L stood for being a good listener and continually learning. So, being a good listener- what are you hearing? And that got me thinking that you can listen with more than just your ears. You listen by observing, what are you seeing, what's happening, what's not happening?
That is how you truly listen, you listen with all your senses, not just your ears. And so being a good listener, and continually learning being a person who is continually learning, so that was the L that he gave us. The U was unambiguous and unbiased. You all know last week, I tripped over that. So, I came back for you. Okay. Alright. So, unbiased. Okay. So, being unbiased, just having a greater perspective.
And then he left us with the E, which was edifying and empowering. So, lifting your team and those that you serve, because being a leader truly just simply means to serve, you're serving those that are around you. And so that was his number one nugget that I took away with which was, how do we identify a good leader, and that is that they're always adding value. I thought that that was good.
Okay. So, second thing. Cameron talked to us about last week, we were talking about process improvement, and customer experience, CX and the customer journey, and all of those different things. And we began to talk about, because the topic of the show was, does poor leadership lead to poor customer experience, and so, Cameron began to talk about how employees know that's the big bomb right here. He said employees will never treat the customer better than they're being treated.
Now, you all know, if I did not have these headsets on and I wasn't in this chair, I would have been around this room. Okay, because that was so good to me. Okay, but the headset saved the set light. Okay, I had to stay stationary. But that was so good employees will never treat the customers better than they're being treated.
And so, I think, as we talk through customer experience in that journey, as a company, or companies, we have to think about, internally the agent experience or the employee experience, how are we treating them? Are we fostering an environment that will have them happy to serve, they're delighted to serve?
It's their honor, their pleasure to serve, we think about, brands that have been known for their customer service is typical because their internal company culture is just out of this world. And then the last question or not the last question because we went over the last show because we were just having such great dialogue.
The last question that we talked through, or one of the questions that we talked through, was, what does diversity look like? This is a huge corporate push for diversity. What does that look like? And how do we know when we've reached them? Let me tell you all, Cameron said Juanita, Now, let's just get the elephant out of the room. And I'm paraphrasing go back and watch the episode.
He said, let's just get the elephant out of the room. I'm a white male. I'm on the other end of the spectrum. But what I think, He had me right there, he had me when he said what I think is, diversity is how we'll know when we've arrived is what we feel, how it looks or, what we feel, what we hear, and what we see. What would that environment look like?
And when we're continually asking those questions of a diverse workforce, not only in race, but experience and backgrounds and all of those different things, then that gives us greater perspective which in turn helps us to have a better customer experience. And so again, I just had to recap the show because I had to go back and watch it and listen and digest it. It was just so good to me.
Okay, so, without further ado, let's get into the show for today. Because today we're going to be talking through more diversity and women in tech and leadership. And so, we have with us, drum roll. Are you all ready? Okay, we have Samantha with us from Lockheed Martin. Samantha.
Samantha Lickteig: Hi, how are you doing?
Juanita Coley: I am good. You can hear me, okay?
Samantha Lickteig: I can hear you just fine. Can you hear me?
Juanita Coley: Awesome. Well, we ready to go, you know, at least one time in a virtual setting. And in a virtual environment, you have to say, I was talking with my phone on mute, or this is what was happening. You got to say that at least one time where it's not a real virtual meeting.
Samantha Lickteig: Even now I hear it almost every meeting, if not the one who has done it.
Juanita Coley: This is not a real meeting if you don't say at least one time. So, thank you so much for being my guest today. I am super excited to get into some good conversation. Tell the guests, who you are what you do. And let's get into the show.
Samantha Lickteig: Alright. My name is Samantha Lickteig, I got my degree in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics back at the end of 2012. And I've been working for Lockheed Martin ever since. I work as a Systems Engineer, and I have been doing the same title position for the last eight years or so.
Juanita Coley: Awesome. So, tell us what do you do as a System Engineer that you can tell us now? Okay, because we don't want the people coming for us.
Samantha Lickteig: There are certain things I will have to gloss over. Unfortunately, it's just the nature of the beast. But my day-to-day can involve anything from customer interactions, document reviews, troubleshooting hardware, and software training, whether either giving or receiving. It's a wide variety of things. And sometimes I'll do multiples of those on the same day. It just depends on what's going on.
Juanita Coley: Yes, so that's interesting. So, I know from a call center perspective, I've met system engineers before. So, I think I have an understanding of what you do. But I'm thinking probably from a tech standpoint. So, tell me, what does that like on a day-to-day, again, for what you can tell us. When using a System Engineer, what are you doing?
Samantha Lickteig: So basically, the job of a systems engineer where I work is making sure that all the parts of a system play nice together. And when something inevitably doesn't, figuring out why and making it work. So, that's the cliff notes version of what we do. I mean, there's quite a bit more to it than that.
But that's the overarching idea of what our job is. You end up dabbling in pretty much all engineering disciplines across the board in some way, shape, or form. Because you have to, again, make sure everything plays nice, and that's mechanical, electrical, software, people, there are people involved in that task. So, you end up having to kind of at least a little bit become a jack of all trades.
Juanita Coley: So, I didn't originally have this question for you. But now I have this question. So, being a jack of all trades, or having to play with so many different departments, or have so many different roles within your role, how do you think diversity plays a role in that? If any at all, like when you are talking to different departments and different things like that, you're experiencing your background?
Samantha Lickteig: Honestly, it becomes just communication. It's you have understand, we're all people, we all come from different backgrounds, with different levels of experience. And especially as an engineer, since I'm the jack of all trades, it goes with the old saying master of none. So, I've got to seek out the people who are the masters sometimes, and at least where I work, they come from multiple different countries, multiple different ethnic backgrounds. And it's just they are people.
Juanita Coley: Have you ever had any or have you ever noticed that you've had barriers when dealing with, or things that were challenges when trying to communicate because of different backgrounds, maybe my perception of how I will use the tool or the system is completely different. As I said, I work in a tech and call center.
So, when I think of a system engineer, I'm thinking of something completely different. And so, one of the things that I'm always interested in about diversity is not just race, it's the diversity of even backgrounds.
Because when I think about system engineering, is completely different than probably what you're thinking about system engineering, because our backgrounds are different. And so, I think having a diverse workforce, helps us to have more dialogue and communication around, what do you mean, when you say system engineering and different things like that? Have you found that to be a thing?
Samantha Lickteig: Well, it's mostly when I work with people, it's either at MFC, where I work, or it's one of our customers. So, they're usually familiar with how we define it, but I have run into it occasionally where they don't.
So, I explain, like what I just did, but I mean, we're a multinational company. So, we interface with people around the world. So, at that point, you also run into a bit of a language barrier. So, we have to be very careful about communicating and making sure that everybody does understand we try to encourage asking questions if there seems to be a disconnect so that we can all get on the same page.
And it's not necessarily one opinion over the other that is necessarily right, we talk it out, we take the best from all of the suggestions, and then go forward. As you mentioned, using different tools one person might use it one way, while one person might use it another. I can't tell you how many times I've worked with coworkers. And we've gotten together to do a project and we each learn something new because we just never used the tool the other way.
Juanita Coley: Yes, I see that all the time, with doing training in different various contact centers, where the hospitality industry they're using the same tool, as may be the healthcare industry, but their perspectives on what they need out of the solution, completely different. So, it's configured differently, and they're using it differently. And having that diverse background, allows me to be able to understand from both lenses, how to help them best have an optimized solution, and it's the same tool.
How did you get started, Samantha? And I'm always interested in women that are in technology because I don't think that it's a huge thing. And it's not even me. So, thinking that it's a big thing. It's just not, the numbers support it, that, women are not necessarily the highest represented in technology. How did you get started in the tech field?
Samantha Lickteig: So, it's a little bit of a funny story, I can kind of blame dad on that one. So, he's done a lot of technology stuff. And he kind of got me into it when I was younger. So, when I graduated high school, I was getting ready to go to college. I'd always been good with math and science. So, he was encouraging me to go into engineering.
But I didn't know if I wanted to dedicate the kind of time and effort that it was going to take to get that kind of a degree. And once I finally decided that yes, this is where I wanted to go with my life. It's I'd been reading through a course catalog and I'm like, that's interesting. They're engineering. Dammit, Dad was right.
He had about the same reaction when I told him exactly that. So, he always made it clear that it was my decision. He's just being Dad, giving his suggestions. And so, I went through, and I went through the classes. I got the degree and I had interviewed for the position at Lockheed because they were hiring systems engineers at the time. And when I found out that it was kind of the jack of all trades, that was kind of what interested me, originally, I had wanted to go for either robotics or bioengineering, but my school didn't have set tracks for either one of those.
So, I ended up going into electrical, because it puts you pretty much in the center of the different disciplines. So, you ended up taking a more diverse course load. So, I've always liked trying to understand how an entire system works, rather than this one little itty-bitty thing, but knowing it well. So, I just like understanding how things work.
Juanita Coley: Yes, it's interesting that you say that. And it's crazy how you can be on totally different ends and spectrums of a thing, and still have so many commonalities, because that's actually what made me get into workforce management and call centers is, I picked up a user manual, it was called Blue Pumpkin. And people who've watched the show probably have heard the story 1000 times at this point. But I picked up a user manual, started reading the book.
And I was like, that's interesting, how the system works. I want to understand more about the discipline and how call centers run and operate. And why do we have call centers and I wanted to understand that whole gamut.
And that's kind of how I got involved in contact centers, and standing them up and running the workforce management departments and all the technology that powers them, and all of that good stuff. So, it's interesting to hear you say that you didn't want to just learn that one piece, but you wanted to understand the whole shebang if you will.
Samantha Lickteig: I'll get bored if I just study the same thing, for all of my time. And when I get bored, that's when I get into trouble. So, I figured studying something that would be a little bit broader spectrum was probably good for the long run.
Juanita Coley: Yes. So, you're a woman in tech. Okay. And you've been at Lockheed, how long have you been at Lockheed?
Samantha Lickteig: A little over eight years?
Juanita Coley: Okay, a little over eight years. So, tell me what was have their environment been like to kind of help foster your growth and challenge you in areas? You said, if you stay in the same thing, you kind of get bored and get in trouble. How have you stayed out of trouble Samantha, tell us that?
Samantha Lickteig: That's a good question. So, Lockheed actively fosters mentor and mentee relationships, which is fairly important, especially for people who come in just out of college, because they can have sometimes a couple of years of experience if they did some internships, but it hasn't been their main focus because they've been in school.
So, I know Lockheed actively encourages mentor and mentee relationships. They encourage extra assignments where you can just expand upon your knowledge, usually with a focus on something that you just think is interesting.
You can pick certain career paths that would lead you towards your end goal, whatever it is that you find interesting, because let's be honest, and engineers are a little bit of a crazy bunch. So, I'm not the only one with that mischief problem, just letting you know that.
Juanita Coley: Not just, you?
Samantha Lickteig: No, very much not. So, when we're focused on something, especially when we enjoy it, a lot of times, we'll get sucked in, and we're deep dive into it. And that's when you get some of the most interesting pieces of technology is just somebody with, I wonder how this would work and be allowed to just do it.
And I mean, within reason, we're not in the first round of Iron Man where he's got dummy on standby, with the fire extinguisher, that's usually a person. But we try not to like trash all the cars in the garage or something like that. We do try to kind of mellow it down. But they have passed where you can actively be encouraged to do that research or if you're interested in a specific area of technology.
Lockheed Martin is a huge company. Depending on if you're willing to relocate, you can probably find just about anything you'd want to do. And where I am, there's just a breadth of things to work on.
So, if you start feeling like you're getting stagnant on one program, they do allow you to move to another program, they'll make plans and stuff like that. So, it's not like one of those, peace, I'm heading out. Or things like that, but they have actively encouraged communication with management, upper management if you want to move or if you want to learn something in particular or things like that, and it's across the board, they offer that to just about everybody.
Juanita Coley: Nice. I love what you said about them being active and offering mentor programs and in-kind of helping with that career pathing. So, if it's something that you know, you want to do the kind of helping with that mentorship in setting you on the trajectory to get there, make sure that you're not getting bored or that your skills or inquisitiveness isn't going to waste. Yes.
So, I love that. Tell me, as a woman in tech, in the tech field, tell me do you think that your background, and just being a woman in tech offers any different perspectives? Or insights that your counterpart wouldn't? Do you ever see anything that you're like…hmm?
Samantha Lickteig: There's a couple that I've noticed women tend to be better at. And it's obviously it's not all women, all men, it's just a general trend. And one of them is communication.
Traditionally, in this country, women are taught from a very young age, how to effectively communicate. And so, I feel I may have come into the company with a little bit of leg up compared to some of my male counterparts at the same level.
That's not always the case, I've met horrible communicators from every walk of life, and I've met amazing communicators from every walk of life. But that does seem to be a bit of a trend, that women tend to be better at communication at least earlier on. You develop over time; it's part of the job communication is key.
Another one of that is, women, especially in this country are typecast in generations past for being caregivers. So, if there's a problem, or somebody is having a problem, whether it be a customer, a coworker, what have you, I feel that it's easier for me to maybe get to the heart of the solution. Because people are seemed to be more comfortable talking to women, as opposed to maybe men, when it comes to something, whether it's personal or professional if an emotion gets involved.
And so, if it's something that's bothering, one of my coworkers or a student or something of the sort, I have, let it be known to my team, that if you have a problem, you can come to me in confidence, you can, use me as a sounding board, I'll talk to you so long as nobody's getting hurt.
I'll keep it in confidence if that's what you want. But we'll kind of try and work things out. And I think that that offer was taken more seriously because I'm a woman, rather than maybe my male counterparts.
It's like when you have a problem growing up as a kid, you go tell mom, you go talk to mom, and I will comfort usual, she'll let you vent or she'll talk you through it or something like that. And that is a pretty typical stereotype in this country. So, I think I might have had an easier time getting people to talk to me telling me what's bothering them, which means we can then address the issue and make sure everything's copacetic.
Juanita Coley: I love that. I love how you begin to talk about the communication piece. So, I was reading or watching. I don't remember, to be honest. But I've heard this somewhere that women use five words to the man's one word or something like that. And so, as you begin to talk through that, I began to think about that, that brought that to my remembrance that, how women tend to just naturally use more words than men use.
And I wonder if that is because of our ability to or we've just been geared to kind of say, I want to kind of talk through things out. And I know that I do that a lot of times, a lot of times I'll have this conversation going on in my head. Or this concept going on in my head. And I'm really kind of talking it out even more so kind of like how I'm doing now I'm reasoning through and talking through.
And as a byproduct of that a lot of times people can kind of understand, this is the thought process that she's coming from and this is what's happening as opposed to men, a lot of times they're more so Matter of fact, so it's just like, go do this.
Samantha Lickteig: That's a discussion I had with my dad because he was the one who worked with me on communication when I was younger. I was great in math and science, English, not so much. So, dad was the one who worked with me on that one.
And I remember him talking about attempting to communicate with his father. And his father basically spoke in bullet points, if you read an email that he wrote, and you just looked at it, if you read it as bullet points, it made sense. Otherwise, it just seemed very choppy and disconnected.
But in counterpoint, you look at something my dad wrote and he taught me because it's, I think that way, and I think a lot of engineers do. I mean, when I'm taking notes, I'm taking bullet points, and then I fill it out and make it pretty and understandable to everybody who's not me later.
So, my dad had taught me, especially when you're doing like an email with technical stuff, sometimes it's you want to make it pretty, other times, you need to get straight to the point, depending upon who you're talking to. So, if I'm writing something out, that's not just technical, here's what we found a, b, and c.
And just listening to it out. So, at that point, I would use the bullet points, but if it's a general email, sometimes I would write out my bullet points, and then start to fill in the blank so that it was understandable by somebody else. And eventually, I got to the point where I could just write it without having to do that.
But I've seen people think multiple different ways, it's kind of interesting, especially when you meet somebody new because it's everybody's kind of got their little language going on in their head. And so, meeting somebody new I feel like you start learning their language as we all come from the base, which right now you know it's English, but everybody knows, there's this person's version of the language, and then this person's version of English.
It's kind of interesting learning that because it also kind of teaches you how they think, and may start getting you thinking about other things.
Juanita Coley: Yes, and I think that that's so important because as we're communicating, I say this to my children all the time, communication is a two-way signal. So, you're sending messages, and you should be receiving messages.
And if that has not happened, true communication hasn't happened, you just said a lot of things. And you haven't truly communicated it. And I think that's one of the things that you mentioned, that you offer that unique to the role is that your ability to communicate will help you to probably send those messages or send those signals, but also be able to, as you just said, interpret, okay, they're saying this, this is their perspective of what's coming, you're able to interpret that signal coming back in.
And from there, you're able to say, okay, this is what I need to do about it, or this is how I need to respond, because you've taken the time to have true communication, and not just send out signals and hope you get it.
And so, I think that that's interesting. The other thing that you touched based on was caregivers, women tend to be put into this typecast of being, nurturers, and caregiving, and you've kind of leveraged that to your benefit in your role to have an open-door policy and have people come in and be able to share with you what it is that you feel, and without feeling like they're going to be retaliated against or some other type of negative thing.
Samantha Lickteig: No judgment or anything like that. I find that if the person lets that stew, that's where you run into problems. I just think it leads to a healthier dynamic on a personal and a professional front. And I always appreciated it when people did it for me, so I feel like I should do it for other people. And it also gives me an insight to what are the things that concern the people around me. So, again kind of goes in with that how people think what's important to them and just overall, communicating with people.
Juanita Coley: How has working in tech, because I work in technology and in my career experience, they say you spend so much time with the people you work with, and in your career, eight hours a day you're at work and you're doing certain things in getting perspective. How is working in tech shaped your interactions in your personal life?
Samantha Lickteig: Sometimes when I'm talking to my non-engineering friends, they can tell when I've had a rather long week, because suddenly, I'll start with what they call engineering Sam.
And I'll just pop out a sentence into a group chat and suddenly it's like, sorry, that was engineering Sam or they start laughing.
Because they come from different backgrounds again, and none of them are tech-based, or everybody nowadays is at least worked with some technology. So, I've got another friend, she gets a nurse voice and that sort of thing. So, it's suddenly the work voices pop up.
And it just kind of makes things a little funny. It usually happens when we're tired. But it's shaped how I think how my brain is wired. Because it's, I spend a good chunk of my day just immersed in technology and how it works and these complicated systems.
And so especially when I'm tired, my brain kind of just defaults there. So, I'll start speaking, just very technologically pointed, and it can be a little funny when I go back and reread it after I've gotten a good night's sleep.
Juanita Coley: So, tell me about your day-to-day interactions with you being a system engineer, because one of the things one of main points of the show, is to normalize women in technology, and normalize women in leadership roles.
And one thing that I don't do is I don't compartmentalize. I'm a techie, not only at work, I'm a techie at home. So, I'm like, I love this gadget, I love this, I love that. And I'm always trying to, I'm planning vacations, or I'm planning anything, I'm on to excel, if I can't plan it on excel, it can't be planned.
And so, it spills over into every area of my life. And I think that shapes the interactions as well that I have, or as a customer, and I'm calling the bank, or I'm calling somewhere. I have my cap on because I'm viewing it through my work, as you said, that's work Sam.
Tell me when you're doing your day-to-day interactions. And you're not lucky you're not in work mode. Have you ever seen a problem that you're like? I wonder if they thought of this? And have you ever seen that problem and wonder if it was from a lack of having the right people in the role to be able to identify this? Because you saw the problem.
Samantha Lickteig: Yes. And it's honestly, more often than not that happens when I'm watching a movie. And its plot points. And I get people a little mad at me because I suddenly like, that's not how that works. More or less when I'm using a certain thing.
Juanita Coley: What was it, say it again? You're when you're watching movies, and it's what?
Samantha Lickteig: It's like, no, that's not how that works.
Juanita Coley: But for what? What is it when you're watching movies and you see what is it?
Samantha Lickteig: I'm a giant geek, so it should surprise no one who knows me that I like sci-fi and fantasy stuff. So, specifically on the sci-fi stuff, I had one friend who was sending me details of this movie she's watching, I'm just like, no, bad that...
Juanita Coley: I think that's why it's important. That's a great point that you bring up though, Sam is that even in film, and music and just everywhere. Interestingly, you bring that point up, because I think that's why they have consultants in those areas. Tell us how this would work, so that it can come across as relatable and real, or authentic.
That's the word I'm looking for. It can come across as authentic when the viewer is watching the show. And I think again, that's where I'm honing in on as far as diversity. Why diversity is so important is because, again, from your perspective, now you have your tech hat on and you're watching the sci-fi show and a point comes up and you're like, no, that's not how that will work.
But if they had a more diverse set, or maybe a system engineer that was on the set that said, this is how this would work. Then it will come across as more authentic when you're watching back the show, and so that's what I was asking, as far as, you know, I always have my, call center hat on.
Samantha Lickteig: It never truly goes away, does it?
Juanita Coley: No, it doesn't. And so, it impacts us in every area of our life. Yes, that's good. I never thought about it from that perspective before how our day-to-day lives. And or what we do for work, or career impacts our day-to-day lives and how we view or how we digest the products and services that we're receiving.
So, I know we're coming down. It doesn't even seem like we've been talking that long. It's crazy. I know we're coming down to the bottom of our window here. I usually ask, leave me with a good nugget, or wisdom, or thought of the day that you want to leave us with.
Samantha Lickteig: Don't be afraid to ask questions. And don't let your pride get in the way of solving a problem or listening to a new idea. I've seen both of those completely shoot somebody in the foot on multiple occasions. And I've seen other times we're just asking a question. That should seem pretty obvious, but nobody thought about has led to us find an issue and we fixed it because somebody asked the question. And it was one of those, I think this is probably a stupid question. But have we thought of this? And the answer to that was NO.
And so, they weren't too prideful to say, look, I understand this might be a simple question. Or I might not be high enough level to be asking this question. But I've got this question. I don't know the answer.
And it could potentially be bad if we don't. And I've seen good things come from it or others, where it's, it becomes a learning experience where it's, we did. And here's how so you know how to look forward to the future. So, you don't have to ask the question again. But it's ask questions. Don't let your pride get in the way of thinking about new ideas or asking that stupid question.
Juanita Coley: That is so good. Because as I hear you saying that I'm immediately thinking about all the questions that go unasked, that's some level of functionality that didn't get created. That's a user story that didn't get written down.
Because someone was afraid to ask the question of, why is this not doing this? Even a process. Why are we doing this way? And because that question didn’t get asked then the result is that the customer experiences impacted.
You could have asked the question. So, that's good. That's very valuable. I can't believe we're already down to the bottom of the time. Thank you so much for hanging out with us today. Hang out with me in the greenroom. Sam, I'm going to wrap the show, and then I'll be right over. Okay.
Samantha Lickteig: Alright. Thank you again, for having me.
Juanita Coley: Thank you so much for being with us today.