Qivliq Federal Group
Diana Edelin is a project manager with Qivliq Federal Group. She has been with the Akima family of companies for four years.
Diana Edelin was well into her studies in materials science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when she realized she wanted to make a shift. So the Washington, D.C. native returned to the capital area, transferring to the Catholic University of America. She finished her undergraduate degree in business management at CUA.
Armed with that newly minted business degree, Diana got a job in 2007 as a data quality specialist for LexisNexis. One day, she got an email from a woman named Bekah Bartley who worked for EbixExchange. Diana had earlier applied for an open spot at the company, and now Bekah was inviting Diana to interview for a project manager position.
“I was super nervous because I didn’t know what a project manager really was,” Diana says. “In my mind I thought, I’ve never managed a project, so how would I jump right into the role of project manager?”
But Bekah recognized Diana’s potential—and Diana got the job. “Bekah encouraged me and gave me harder clients and harder projects,” Diana says. “It was such a collaborative environment and she was such an inspiration because she was passionate about what she was doing.” Soon, Diana was on a path toward certification. But getting her Project Management Professional certification while raising young children and handling other family responsibilities presented its share of challenges. Just two days before the exam, Diana’s grandfather passed away. “Once I passed that exam and was a certified project management professional, it was one of the biggest moments in my life—but it was bittersweet,” Diana recalls.
Whether cramming for a certification exam while taking care of her family or working while studying full-time, Diana has always juggled multiple priorities. These days, she splits her time between being a project manager for multiple contracts and providing delivery support for information technology products—and then doing homework with the kids and making sure the family gets dinner in the evenings.
“It’s challenging, but it’s a good challenge because it’s always for something good,” she says. “Logging back in to do work at 9 p.m.—it’s always for something good. It’s making sure that the purchase order gets out, that the client gets the renewal they desperately need. Looking at the reason is what helps when I do become a little tired.”
Four years ago, Diana joined the Akima family of companies as a project manager for Qivliq Federal Group. There Diana found a personal connection to the Akima’s mission: Her mother was born in Alaska; both she and Diana are NANA shareholders. “What I really find special about Akima, it’s not just to be in a positive environment, but at the end of the day, the profits that our hard work is creating directly benefit the NANA shareholder. I find my work to be important.”
Though the technology field is often male-dominated, Diana says she’s worked with plenty of women throughout her career. “I’ve been very lucky to work with a lot of strong women,” Diana states. “Right now, I have Juvy McCarthy, our group president, who’s very strong. She’s very inspirational.”
As for motivating other women, Diana’s best advice for an exciting career is to find what you’re truly passionate about—that’s when you’ll find people who can help you develop as a professional. “Once you find it, that’s when you will continue to grow and find people like Juvy and my boss, Lynne Blumenthal, who’s amazing,” Diana says. “I think people can sense when you want or are willing to learn something and they can help you grow.”