How Team Deltek’s Susan Minne is Turning Her Passion into a Life-Changing Mission
In this month’s #TeamDeltek spotlight, we interviewed Susan Minne, a Senior Principal Technical Writer, who is part of Deltek’s engineering organization. Susan is a remote employee based in Austin, Texas, who was recently honored with the Women to Watch in UAS Global Award in Public Safety by the Women and Drones organization.
During our conversation, Susan shared her love of Deltek’s culture, what she’s learned on the job and how she’s applied it to her passion outside the office. Her focus and determination can be found not only in her day-to-day communications work but also in her volunteer work with the Cedar Park Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department.
Susan, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. To get things started, can you share a little about your background and what you like most about working at Deltek?
I was born and raised in South Africa and immigrated to the United States with my husband in 1997 to travel and explore new places. I started my career at Deltek as a contractor and then became a fulltime employee almost seven years ago. As a Senior Principal Technical Writer, I am responsible for some of Deltek’s Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) products, developing administrator through end-user printed documentation and online help.
I love working with the engineering product teams. Everyone is so passionate about what they do and I always feel that my contributions and suggestions are valued. I appreciate the fast pace of the agile environment and enjoy working with different personalities within our organization. I also value the autonomy and the flexible work schedule that Deltek promotes. It allows me to find a work-life balance that suits me.
Work-life balance is so important. Can you share with us what types of activities interest you when you’re not focused on developing technical documentation?
I have always had an interest in first responder activities and I wanted to find a way to volunteer in my community in a related capacity. So about six years ago, I became a volunteer and instructor with the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) which is run by the Cedar Park Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Our group teaches you how to look after yourself and your family in an emergency and assists with staffing mass shelters and points of distribution for emergency supplies or medications.
About 18 months ago, the Cedar Park Emergency Management Coordinator started a Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) program for the city and I offered to help him practice flying drones. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked, which is when I decided to purchase my own drone and began training with him.
We train about once a week and deploy as needed to assist both the Police and Fire department with search and rescue, SWAT aerial support, fire scenes and many other types of missions. When we get called out for an emergency, it is often because they are in need of extra support, so it is gratifying when the mission is successful and there is a positive outcome. I love viewing the world from 400 feet in the air, and I am so happy that I can use this passion to help people.
It must be very gratifying to be able to help others in this way. In addition to participating in emergency response missions, can you share how what you do for Deltek has helped contribute to your volunteer efforts?
For the past year, I have been working with several public safety agencies to develop a Public Safety Unmanned Response Team (PSURT) program and training guide. The PSURT program has been identified as the standard for UAS pilots wishing to respond to mutual aid requests from other communities across the State of Texas. It has been submitted to the Texas Department of Emergency Management, to aid in the development of a Texas House Bill on Public Safety Drones.
When I began to work on the PSURT program, the skills that I gained as a technical writer at Deltek enabled me to take a leadership role in developing the program. As part of this program I design program guides, drill handbooks, and instructor guides. Although we have many subject matter experts involved, we did not have anyone skilled in creating documentation. I worked with the team to combine information and material from all over Texas and the United States, and we built a single, comprehensive program.
That is very impressive! As you may know, Deltek is giving employees a day off each year to support a volunteer activity that they are passionate about. How are you planning to use your VTO day?
I love that Deltek supports volunteerism and encourages people’s passions. I think that volunteering is an important aspect of being part of a community. It gives you an opportunity to connect with others in your local area, learn new skills, take on challenges, and make a difference. This year I am using my VTO day to meet with various Public Safety agencies to continue developing the standardized program for Public Safety sUAS pilots. This program provides training and guidance for Public Safety pilots across the state and improves how they respond to needs in the community, for example, searching for a missing person.
Clearly, you are very dedicated to this line of work. So much that you recently won the Women to Watch Global Award from the group Women and Drones ─ Congratulations! Can you share with us what you were acknowledged for?
Women and Drones is an international organization whose mission is to promote gender diversity, educate and create awareness of women’s issues, increase the number of female pilots, and encourage women to serve as STEM role models for young girls.
The Women to Watch Global Award recognizes women who are making significant contributions to the drone industry. I received the award in the Public Safety category for my service as a Public Safety pilot and my contribution to the development of a Public Safety UAS mutual aid program.
What an honor to be recognized among these women who are leaders in their field. As a woman working in engineering, what advice would you give to girls who are looking to get into science or technology?
I would tell girls interested in science or technology not to give up, or give in to pressure from others to pursue a different career path. Instead, work hard, shoot high and be prepared to try things you’ve never done. I would encourage them to seek out leadership opportunities, connect with other women in STEM and find female mentors in the field who will help them along the way. But most importantly, I would remind them that they are trailblazers for future generations of women.
Thank you for sharing those words of wisdom. For our last question, we like to ask all our #TeamDeltek interviewees this: Of Deltek’s ten values, which one resonates the most with you and why?
The Deltek values that resonate most with me are Collaboration and Diversity & Inclusion. There is a concept in South Africa called “Ubuntu” that loosely translates to “I am because you are.” It is a philosophy of interdependence; that everything I do has an effect on you and everything that you do has an effect on me, and no matter what we look like or what our beliefs are, we are one in humanity and can achieve greater things by having a spirit of sharing and caring for those around us.
About Susan Minne
Susan Minne is a Senior Principal Technical Writer for Deltek. She is skilled at implementing and managing processes to streamline tasks and projects with strong analytical, planning, organizational, and time management skills. Susan is an accomplished Public Safety and AUVSI TOP 3 sUAS pilot, and a 2020 Women to Watch in UAS Global Award (Public Safety) honoree. Connect with Susan on LinkedIn.
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