A minute with Griselda Lopez, campus access and experience manager

As campus access and experience manager, Griselda Lopez oversees the Site Access process, the Badging office, the Users Office and Recreations.

What brought you to Fermilab?

I started working at the lab almost 20 years ago; my anniversary is this November. I started as a secretary in the Computing Division and served as an admin for many years before moving into a business analyst role assigned to work with WDRS.

I have been working since I was 15 years old and have managed people since I was 19. I came here one year after graduating college. I held a full-time and a part-time job during college. That strong work ethic helped me progress in my career at Fermilab and makes me a good fit for my current role.

How would you describe what you do?

My role is campus access and experience manager, which includes overseeing the Site Access process, Badging Office, the Users Office, Recreations and formerly Housing. I spend much of my time coordinating lab access, creating and executing business process improvements and ensuring the lab stays in compliance with DOE orders.

One recent example of a process improvement I’ve been part of is the ongoing automation of our site access system. Over the last year, we’ve moved from a labor-intensive, time-consuming process, involving many different systems and manual notifications, to a more efficient, centralized, automated capability. It’s been a real team effort, involving IT, the Office of Partnership & Technology Transfer, Foreign National Access Program, the Export Import Control Office, and the Security Department. It’s been gratifying to see our efforts pay off.

What is the most rewarding part of working at Fermilab?

I would say it’s the opportunity to work with people from different disciplines and divisions and sections as well as different backgrounds and cultures. My role affords me the chance to meet visitors and users from across the globe and help them with their housing and access needs. I also enjoy being involved with process changes, making things more useful and working toward new requirements. Having a chance to problem-solve and troubleshoot a wide variety of issues is also something I appreciate. I don’t really have a typical day: Some are filled with meetings (mostly virtual these days), while others are spent putting out fires or managing process changes. But each one is interesting.

What advice would you give others who wish to follow in your footsteps?

As I mentioned earlier, having a strong work ethic and bringing it with you every day has served me well over the years. I’d also encourage others to be open to and welcome change and take every opportunity to think outside the box and look for a creative solution to a problem. And when you receive constructive criticism, embrace it instead of getting defensive. It’s not always going to be easy, but it’s the lessons you learn along the way that makes the journey worthwhile. Every situation has a takeaway, something you can apply later when you’re dealing with people, personalities or certain situations. It’s important that you use what you’ve learned along the way.

What’s something you wish more people understood about your job?

My role can be challenging and rewarding at the same time. What I do each day doesn’t exactly fit into a standard job description—it’s not always a 9-to-5 job—and the constant change and uncertainty can be rough. To be successful, I’ve learned to be adaptable and to be creative in my approach, while ensuring I maintain compliance with policies and DOE orders.

Also, while we’re still working our way through the pandemic, I would ask everyone to be patient and understand that the entire Campus Access and Experience team is doing their best to respond to Fermilab’s needs.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

I love to spend time with my family and friends and to plan family vacations when conditions allow. I also enjoy binge-watching shows and documentaries. Some of my current favorites include “Maid,” “Yellowstone,” “All American,” “Las Tres Muertes de Marisela,” “A Good Day to Die” and “The Social Dilemma.” On my list to watch are “Agents of Change,” “Al Otro Lado (To the Other Side),” “The Hunting Ground” and “Ladies First.”