In Fall 2019, Angela Setiadi, user service administrator, and Shawna Vila-Flores, administrator, joined the User Office. Every user meets them—but do you know their nicknames for each other?
How has your first season with the ALS been?
Setiadi: It’s been trial by fire. We’ve had shutdowns. We’ve had blackouts.
Vila-Flores: One major issue was with our badging system, when 278 users were stuck in the queue.
Setiadi: Then we had our blackout.
Vila-Flores: It was just on our floor, and just in our room. There were 20 to 30 users scheduled to come in that day.
Setiadi: We had to set up the old registration area with a computer and printer so we could look up foreign national documents. Shawna would check them in with the baseline information, and then we had to send them to the badge office. They got in eventually.
How is the normal registration process, and what else do you work on?
Vila-Flores: Prior to their arrival, users have to register in ALSHub. Once they’re in the Hub, we’re able to see if they’re citizens, which are handled differently from visa-holding users. There’s certain criteria that we have to make sure are met: the visas are correct, other documentation has been uploaded and provided, that they’re actually on an experiment, and that we have all the vital information. And then once that’s done, we process them in our database and change them into HRIS to make them actual users. Once they come in, we check them in, make sure other documentation that they provided matches, and then they are badged and sent on their merry way. We also send them a confirmation email once they have the FVA approval.
Setiadi: We’re cross-trained in each other’s duties. I work a lot with user agreements to ensure that new organizations have proper contracts with the ALS. I also am doing the PR for the user meeting and the UEC meetings as they come up, and I’ll soon be working more with Andi Jones when it comes to publications. Sue Bailey and Andi Jones are very knowledgeable. They provide the best amount of support, and they’re very caring about your future development and growth. They’re inspirational to look up to.
It’s interesting to know where all the users come from. Sometimes, they talk about their work, and it’s very profound—it’ll help humanity in the long run.
Vila-Flores: The users speak Cantonese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, Vietnamese, German, Korean, Norwegian…my husband is going to help me learn some Korean greetings. Ideally, I would like to set the goal of being able to greet the users in their native language.
The two of you have also been all around the world, right?
Setiadi: I was a military brat, so I grew up in Germany. I’ve been to the UK, Italy, France, Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, and Mexico. We’re supposed to go to Peru, but we haven’t done that yet. Trying to hit all the continents.
Vila-Flores: I was a military brat as well, and I did marry someone in the military. So, we lived in Hawaii for three and a half years and then Germany. I’ve lived in Spain. I visited Panama and Mexico. I would love to visit the Azores next. My family is originally from Puerto Rico, so I can be anybody’s tour guide.
What brought you to the ALS?
Vila-Flores: I originally came to the Lab in recruiting for a one-year contract. I absolutely loved it—it was a good group. Bill Singh, who was the interim talent and acquisitions manager, led by example with excellence, fairness, and heart.
I’ve also worked for Roche; PepsiCo; at Kaiser Permanente as a senior staff assistant supporting all the floors in the hospital, minus Labor & Delivery and NICU; and Novartis. When they merged with a Spanish company, I was getting calls all the time from people who thought I was an inside source to Novartis, because my last name is Catalonian. I contracted for years because it worked well with my family, but I really wanted to be here, so when I had the opportunity to come back, I went for it.
Setiadi: I got my MBA and worked at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, training new employees and giving seminars on science and space history. I got to go in all the simulators that were used to help train astronauts on the dynamics of space. The Space and Rocket Center had many seminars and meetings where I had the pleasure of meeting Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and many other Apollo astronauts. Hoot Gibson, who flew around five shuttle missions, often took my son into the simulators, but my son was only three at the time. So, my son was sitting in an astronaut’s lap, flying the simulator!
My husband is a native Californian, so he wanted to move back to the Bay Area. I took a position at the Social Security Administration, but after two years, they downsized my position. I wound up doing contract work and became a human resource assistant at the Lab, and I fell in love with the Lab. I worked with LaTonja Wright, and she changed my life. When you lose a good job, you’re kind of floating in limbo. She just grounded me the second I met her, and she was the inspiration going forward, too. When the ALS put up this position, I applied for it and got it.
What are your office nicknames?
Setiadi: She’s Garfield.
Vila-Flores: And she’s Odie.