Lisa Belk Serves Her Customers and Community
When Lisa Belk entered college, it was not her intent to seek out a career in a technical field. In fact, Lisa studied economics as an undergraduate at UC San Diego. The technical jobs just seemed to find her.
“When I was in college, the Internet was gaining popularity and there was a high demand for Web page development,” Lisa explains. “My attempts to find internships related to my major all eventually led to Web site and graphics design work.” This trend continued as Lisa earned her MBA at the University of Notre Dame, where the business school hired her to develop websites and teach HTML workshops to her MBA colleagues.
After completing her master’s program, Lisa was recruited by an Internet consulting company seeking a “business person” to bridge the communication gap between software development teams and marketing department customers. It was there she found her niche as a business person in a technical field. “My business school education and web design experience provided the right platform for launching my career,” she observes.
As featured in Diablo magazine’s Forty Under Forty list, Lisa currently oversees software development for the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world’s largest laser. Her team of 85 coders supports LLNL’s national security and clean energy missions. This position marks a return to NIF, where Lisa previously spent 10 years leading Information Technology (IT) operations.
It was during Lisa’s first assignment that she learned how critical it is to establish relationships with customers. “I was the first member of the software development team to receive access to the laser facility,” she recalls. “This access—being close to my customers—helped me see and understand how software could improve their work efficiency. Forming an authentic partnership with customers can really change the perspective of the IT and software development teams.”
Lisa’s tenure at LLNL also includes IT management for the Global Security (GS) organization. From 2012 to 2016, she was responsible for all aspects of IT within GS, including operations, cyber security, and infrastructure. Lisa also acted as the technical lead on software verification projects for the Department of Homeland Security, assessing the quality of codes used to predict the likelihood of biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear terrorist attacks.
As the mother of two young girls, Lisa recognizes the importance of motivating and inspiring the next generation of women leaders. She is a Girl Scout leader for a troop of Juniors, including her daughters. “I try to instill in these girls a love for the outdoors, a spirit for giving back to the community, and the confidence to accomplish any project they undertake,” Lisa says.
At LLNL, Lisa gives NIF tours and serves as a Fun with Science presenter. Lisa also volunteers each year at the Tri-Valley Expanding Your Horizons conference, which provides opportunities for sixth- to ninth-grade girls to learn about careers in science and math. Lisa’s digital image analysis workshop teaches girls to morph images and introduces them to the math concepts behind those transformations. Her e-textile workshop teaches girls about sewable circuits and electronics. She enjoys helping girls to explore career options and find their own satisfying niche, as she has done.
I support the nonproliferation, national security, and energy innovation missions of LLNL’s National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world’s largest and most powerful laser. I enjoy collaborating each day with experts in computer science and laser technology to solve unique and exciting challenges. In addition, I manage the operations for the Department of Defense Technologies Program, which is focused on advanced laser concepts for national defense missions. I’m also part of institutional committees that set the direction for the growth of IT services to meet customer needs and reduce the cost of doing business at LLNL.