Flexibility key to contractor success

Christopher Barnes of Lockheed Martin says the best path to contractor success is to be open to challenges and new opportunities.

EDITOR's NOTE: This article has been change to reflect Christopher Barnes' correct title of project manager.

Christopher Barnes’ best advice for people starting their careers in government contracting is “be flexible.”

A project manager for Lockheed Martin Corp., Barnes has a history degree and master’s in business administration and has been involved with projects such as setting up an annual recruiting program for Sandia National Laboratories and leading a $30 million initiative to allow supercomputers to share files.

“A lot of people starting out get narrowly focused,” Barnes said. “But if you’re open to challenges and new opportunities, good things will happen.”

Barnes, 34, joined Lockheed Martin six years ago, working under a contract with Sandia National Labs, which builds national security technologies, to manage recruiting efforts. One of his milestones was setting up a recruiting expo in 2005 with 25 selected doctoral and master’s students who were interested in working for the Energy Department organization. The event, which has since become an annual tradition, involves showing the students exactly what the facilities do, including their work in robotics, nanotechnology and supercomputing. Students also get interviews with high-level Sandia managers. At the end of the two-day event, some students are selected to work at the labs.

He also takes pride in his work as a project manager on the Defense Department’s high-performance computing modernization program, a contract Lockheed Martin started in June 2008. Barnes oversaw the introduction of next-generation storage and file systems technology at four DOD supercomputing centers. The result is that users can grab a file that they made on any supercomputer across any enterprise and run it on another supercomputer, something that has never been done before.

“A major milestone for me is when we present this to the customer and the center directors, and we can start buying the technology for this project,” he said.

Barnes is also focused on getting more involved in the business development side of Lockheed Martin and working on partnerships with the company’s information systems and global solutions leaders.

“I would like to broaden my background in project management into a career in program management,” he said.

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