Marta Tancula, Senior Risk Analyst, Quality, Performance and Risk
Ms. Tancula joined VA’s Office of Information and Technology’s Quality, Performance, and Risk division in 2014 from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), where she served as a program analyst managing customer portfolios for nationwide entry-level testing for job applicants across a range of federal occupations.
In her current role at, Ms. Tancula is responsible for supporting high-quality performance by working with OIT divisions and stakeholders to identify, assess, and mitigate enterprise level risks and issues.
Why is Women’s History Month important to you?
I think the importance of Women’s History Month is two-fold: it celebrates women who paved the way for us to have all the opportunities and rights we have today. Women’s History Month celebrates women’s courage and their dedication to fighting for what they believe in.
Second, it is an amazing way for us to get to know other women and learn more about what they are doing. So many women are doing great things, and often we don’t hear about them because we get busy with our jobs. For example, I watched an IT Campus sponsored virtual panel discussion featuring several women leaders in OIT and it was amazing! I just find events like that very inspiring and encouraging because you get to hear from women who you can relate to. They discussed their challenges, their experiences and when you hear them, you’re like, “Oh, yes, I went through that, too. And this is how they dealt with it. It’s not just me!” Â You know, it is helpful to listen and learn from what other women experience, as well.
How did you choose the IT field and why?
I always laugh when anybody asks me that question because I feel like IT chose me, versus me choosing it.
I just never saw myself as working in IT. My background was Analytics and Project Management, but there was never an IT-centric part of it. IT almost seemed scary and intimidating to me, like something I wouldn’t be able to be successful in. But then I found myself in a position where the division I was working at was being eliminated and we were about to lose our jobs. So, I decided to look for new opportunities.
When I applied to my previous position at VA, it felt a little intimidating because “IT” was in the description. I had the qualifications, but then again, the position description “IT” made me question it, so I kept thinking, “Well, I don’t knowâ€¦.” But I quickly learned that IT is such a broad field that I do not have to be someone who knows coding to be successful. I don’t have to be an expert in cloud computing to be successful at what I do. There are many non-technical skills needed within IT, including skills centered around running daily operations and improving efficiency. So, I am very happy that I found my home here at OIT, plus, I get to work with an amazing team.
How do women in OIT make an impact on Veteran lives?
In my opinion, when we talk about VA, we want it to be more diverse. Diversity is also about diverse talents, backgrounds and experiences. And I think that is what women in OIT provide -we bring different perspectives because we have different experiences.
Any time we have a diverse team for projects or initiatives, we get to hear viewpoints from everybody. That is what makes your product or service better. When we bring our experiences, our opinions, and our perspectives to the table, it really helps us create the best possible IT solutions to address the problems Veterans face. It also helps solve challenges that our partners and customers across the administrations might be experiencing.
Regarding VA’s Mission — “to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan" by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans — how does this resonate with you and inform your work in OIT?
VA’s mission is easy to understand. Everything we do is, in the end, for the Veteran. I think it is important for us to remember this when we are consumed by our daily activities. Whatever we are working on, our purpose is to further the mission of assisting Veterans. That is the “why” of what we do — it is for the Veterans.
The IT support we provide and the tools we collaborate on and deliver to administrations, help them do their jobs more efficiently. All of that, in the end, is helping the Veteran. So, while it might not be a direct line, we are in the end helping the Veteran. It is why I try to be very diligent about my work because I know it’s going to link to the Veteran in the end. I see my work as a small token of appreciation for the sacrifices Veterans have made.
What is your mantra for success?
Be diligent. If you are going to do something, just put effort into it, and do it right. So that is always something I try to follow, even if it is a mundane task: if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it the right way. And the second mantra I have is a quote from Maya Angelou that I really, really love because it made me shift my mindset: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Sometimes we complain about things but Maya Angelou’s code here is about shifting your thinking; if you do not like something, fix it, do something about it, instead of complaining. And if it is something you cannot change, just change your attitude about it. If you must live with it, then you must live with it. But you know... “put it behind you!”
What advice would you give women entering the tech field? Is there anything that you wish you had known?
Based on my experience, I would say don’t be afraid to take that risk. Don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith. Even if you are just starting out, if you see an opportunity and you are interested, don’t hesitate to take it on. Go and explore, take those risks. And another bit of advice is to surround yourself with other men and women who will support you. Start creating those support networks in the very beginning. This could be your colleagues, your management, your mentors, or someone who is a sounding board for you. Having that support and encouragement will help you work through any challenges and obstacles you might be facing. Sometimes you just need to talk things out and finding people who are going to be that sounding board for you is important. To me, that’s amazing because it helped my career progression.
Our commitment to digital and IT transformation is shaped by daily dedication to customer service and the close collaboration of our workforce, managers, and leaders. Ready to join us in improving Veterans’ care? Check out all current information and technology career opportunities on DigitalVA. You can also contact VA’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer at 512-326-6600, Monday thru Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST or by submitting a resume to VACareers@va.gov.