January - February 2022
Striking A New Balance with Hybrid Work
As we near the two-year anniversary of remote work, what have we learned, both as individuals and as a company?
DRT has always, with client approval, been generous in allowing work from home. And telework is the typical mode for Atlanta-based DRTers, given a dearth of space at the CDC. But with some government agencies planning hybrid work for 2022, we asked employees to name the pitfalls and perks of remote work, as well as in-person aspects they’ve missed. Here goes:
DRTers Pitted Against One Another in Epic Fun
Tyler Nicklyn, we salute you! Because YOU had the idea to hold a virtual “Chopped style” contest that became the inspiration for DRTers across four FDA portfolios. Each employee was sent four specialty ingredients and challenged to prepare a dish in 30 minutes. Some went beyond the call, making three courses!
Not to be outdone, DRT Life sponsored a Most Festive contest, featuring an all-company vote for their favorite merry making employee. See some winners below!
Bring DRT-Born Innovations to Bear on 2022
Until recently, the country’s foremost authorities on food-borne outbreaks used screenshots of heat maps to convey the latest data in reports, presentations, and emails. This was a tedious, manual process— and it wasn’t clear to viewers how recently these visualizations had been updated.
Fortunately, in 2020, DRT introduced robotic process automation (RPA) to its customer, the Coordinated Outbreak and Response (CORE) team, who adopted the software technology to continuously fetch and reflect updated data. Subsequently, the data is translated into Tableau and stored within CORE’s internal application, where heat maps are updated every 30 minutes during the workweek and can be easily downloaded in the user’s desired dimensions.
This is the kind of initiative DRTers will be encouraged to take with current client work and proposals in 2022. “We now need to integrate the great things we have built — our Value Management Solutions, DRT Confidence, and Idea Lab innovations — and start using them ourselves,” says CEO Susan Kidd.
At the FDA, Kidd says, “We know their mission, we have been there more than 11 years. So, we quickly identified three use cases with which we knew we could provide value with RPA.” Associate II Ruben Torrico adds, “The senior leaders already knew and liked this technology, so they were quick to deploy the first use case we demonstrated. Now we want to use RPA to help them with data migration—to download attachments and milestone emails from their legacy system that they will then use and associate with new outbreaks.”
After hearing an Idea Lab presentation, Expert Consultant Jeff Harley began considering the laborious and redundant aspects of FEMA’s work that automation might transform. For the first time in 50 years, FEMA is introducing pricing changes to National Flood insurance that will eventually impact 5.5 million policy holders. “Within this mission, we identified a perfect candidate — a manual redundancy that took up to 6 and a half hours of client time,” Harley says. “We are now building the use case to help a small team of actuaries quickly visualize and communicate the data, given the enormous influx of calls they are now handling.”
Harley admits, “I didn’t have much experience with robotics. But I knew my customers, and it was cool how the Idea Lab pulled in UI path experts and worked with us to build a solution.”
Ultimately, knowing the customer and their missions will drive this next step, as DRTers apply the company’s tech, security, and value-analysis tools. In this way, 2022 will be the year to show customers and prospects everything that DRT can do, marrying DRT’s intimate grasp of client missions to its in-house collaboration and cutting-edge solutions.
With a new year will come a new corporate office! In August, DRT will move its headquarters to Rosslyn’s Potomac Tower office building with a beautiful view of Georgetown and the Potomac. It is close to the Key Bridge, for quick jaunts into Georgetown.
Looking forward to the amazing resolutions we will drive together in this new space and in this new year,
Employee Spotlight: Leon Nguyen
The DiRT talked to Associate II Leon Nguyen as he was headed off for the holidays. Two and a half years into his tenure at DRT, we asked him about his work contributing to the FDA’s new Agricultural Water Plan Builder.
Q. So you provide project management and business analysis for the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). Tell us what’s significant about this new tool.
A. This new online assessment tool we helped develop is public facing; farmers and ranchers across the United States will use it. The biggest ace for DRT was being able to work closely with the SMEs throughout the year to fine tune the requirements. We succeeded by always being able to adapt to sudden changes, even those in a project with an aggressive deadline.
Q. If you were recruiting yourself to join DRT, what would you say?
A. There are wonderful people at DRT and if you are a sponge, you can soak up and learn so much. Everyone here has so much to teach you. A midsize firm is a great choice—with a variety of projects and very talented people.
Q. Most anticipated part of the holidays this year?
A. I’m really looking forward to gift giving. Now that I have my own job and income now, I can buy gifts for my family. My aunt loves to get household items as gifts, and I got her one of those stainless-steel trash cans, which will be an upgrade I know she will love. As I get older and set up my own place, these things mean more to me, too.
Q. Any favorite foods coming your way at home with family?
A. We will have a big Vietnamese potluck. My grandmother is a great cook and I’ll have a chance to show her I have retained some of what she has taught me. I always help them roll the egg rolls, too.
Q. So, what’s the secret to making a good egg roll?
A. Honestly the biggest thing is not to overstuff.
Important DRT Dates
All Month: Donate to DRT Cares’ Perfect Match: Scholarship America which helps students fulfill their college dreams, sponsored by Frank Nazare. Email DRT Cares: Perfect Match to get your donation matched.
All Month: DRT Life sponsors Step Challenge, Details TBA
Monday, January 17, DRT Holiday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Friday, January 28, DRT New Employee Orientation, DRT Headquarters (Tentative)
All Month: DRT Cares Sponsors the Superbowl Raffle with proceeds benefiting the Youth Leadership Foundation.
DRT Life sponsors Scattegories, Date and details TBA
Monday, February 21, DRT Holiday, Presidents’ Day
Friday, February 25, DRT New Employee Orientation, DRT Headquarters (Tentative)