Kimberly Cherrix

Quality Assurance

Employee Spotlight

How would you describe the culture at Relative Dynamics?

My day-to-day interactions are more with the ROC team, made up of very experienced and knowledgeable people who are pleasant to work with and make the position I do enjoyable.  The ROC culture  is based on Safety and Quality and everyone makes time to work together as needed to ensure successful and on-time projects and missions.  

The prime contractor, KBR, does not distinguish between badges.  45% of the team are subcontractors but we are all one ROC team.  The Relative Dynamics team that I have worked with has been helpful and responsive to the team here on ROC and has supported us when needed.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Each day can be different for us.  Primarily we conduct audits on a bi-weekly basis and give ourselves a week to organize our notes, enter the results in the KBR tool (we are working on developing a ROC specific tool that is more user friendly to us).  We complete and record any non-conformances, corrective actions, opportunities for improvement, observations or improvement actions, all of which we track with internal tools, review training records, past audits and documentation, and finally write and submit the final audit report package.

We attend all project, mission, configuration management and rick meetings to have an understanding of the scope and watch/address any quality issues that could arise.  We are also on the Risk and Configuration Management Board and sign off for Quality on all documentation and check-lists.  We address any issues with suppliers, parts, systems, etc. that require quality observation.  We are currently developing Supplier Chain Management processes and improving quality checks checks on received parts systems.

We review and track all Discrepancy Reports and track quality trends, i.e. supplier issues, parts issues, etc.  We have developed a Quality team newsletter that we partnered on with the Safety team which is required reading to ensure that Quality is always on the minds of our ROC team.  We have also provided, per the Training Management team's request, a required Quality Assurance course for all ROC Project and Mission Managers that is tracked in the NASA Training tool (SATERN).  Over the past year, we have edited, created, and brought up to date 20 Quality documents, plans and procedures to where QA documentation is 100% up-to-date.  We also track plans and process documents for all service areas within the contract.  Though ISO 9001:2015 requires risk management, ROC has a Risk Management Manger and board that the Quality team works closely with to ensure risks are being managed.

The Quality team provides a brief quality assurance overview once a month to all new hires during New Hire Orientation.  One person from Quality is on-duty, on console, in the range control center during every launch operation supported by ROC in case any ROC issues arise during launch operations.  I conduct monthly QA reviews to PMO and submit monthly minutes, as well as Quality weekly reports to be included in the NASA Range Management Office weekly reports and weekly task reports since COVID.  Currently we are finishing up the last of the 2020 audits and are preparing to for in internal KBR audit in December 2020.

As a Quality Assurance Manager, I also act as the backup Interim Response Team and Mishap Investigator on behalf of the Safety & Health Manager if needed and only because I have been previously trained in this area, with the prior approval of the ROC PM.

What are some of the opportunities for growth and mentorship that you have seen?

Personally I have been taking the NASA Safety Center Safety and Mission Assurance Quality Engineer Level 1 courses and hope to move on the Level 2 in 2021.  I am previously certified in Occupational Safety Level 1 & 2.

I try to be a mentor and role model for my direct report, in not only Quality and Safety, but in the culture of NASA and ROC, including having her attend some upper level meetings and work on higher level projects with me so she gets a better understanding of management.  The PM has allowed me to be a part of reviewing contracts for quality, that do not present a conflict of interest, along with the previous ROC QA Manager to learn what to look for as far as quality in a new proposal or what should be added to ensure quality.  This has given the previous QA Manager an opportunity to mentor me as he is able.

What are some of the things you look forward to most in your job?

I look forward to talking with folks during audits, whom I don't normally see or interface with on a day-to-day basis.  Having been at NASA Wallops for over 20 years, I have worked with 80% of the ROC team in some capacity in the past and we like to catch up.  Another thing I enjoy is introducing new processes that make tasks easier, especially when they are well received by the PMO, such as the newsletter.

What is an example of a hard problem or project you've had to solve?

Nothing really.  Quality is pretty black and white, because you either conform or you don't.  I have worked on issues with others to assist them in resolution, but nothing directly relating to Quality.

Why did you choose to work at Relative Dynamics?

Honestly, they needed to fulfill a position I was interested in, on a contract I had been trying to get on for years.  I am enjoying being on the Relative Dynamics team in this contract.

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