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Cyrille Oversees Team of 70 Delivering on a Government Contract at Perspecta
As an undergraduate earning her bachelor’s degree in mathematics, Zalenda Cyrille landed an internship at the National Security Agency (NSA). The interview process at NSA included going through the security clearance screening process. She’s earned that security clearance, and maintained it ever since.
After graduating in 2001, she “was recruited by Lockheed Martin and entered their leadership development program - a rotational program with the opportunity to earn a graduate degree [in systems engineering in 2004], and to go through company-sponsored leadership development training.”
In 2010, the division in which Cyrille worked at Lockheed Martin was spun off, and via a series of name changes, mergers, and acquisitions, in 2018, it became Perspecta, a Chantilly, VA-headquartered technical government services provider that does work across multiple federal, state, and local government agencies.
“We focus on solving really tough, technical problems that our customers face every day as they aim to serve and protect American citizens,” she explains.
“I started as a systems integrator and engineer as part of my rotational program doing test engineering,” she remembers.
Once she completed the program, she moved into the corporate side of the business and became an internal auditor. In that role, “I looked at different programs to assess their software engineering, risk management, systems engineering and program management areas. I also got exposure to finance.”
Cyrille then became a manager, leading the group of test engineers on the team on which she’d previously worked. “That transition was easy since I knew the technology and the mission. The new and more challenging part of the role was learning to be a manager, which requires a totally different skill set,” she shares.
Cyrille drew on what she learned in program management training that she’d taken early on in her career. It taught her how to be a program manager and, ultimately, a program director, her current position.
“This program provided a great network within the company, and I remain connected to several of the people I met as a result of participating,” she explains. Along the way, she’s also had mentors who helped her balance her home life with her leadership responsibilities.
Today, as a program director, Cyrille is responsible for running a five-year contract with a government agency.
“I oversee all of the contract components Perspecta is responsible for delivering to a specific customer group. This involves interfacing with the contracting officer’s technical representative (COTR) at the agency to ensure things are running on time and within budget, managing employees, and identifying areas of risk or success.”
In her current position Cyrille oversees approximately 70 employees and manages a portfolio of more than $70 million in revenue. She engages daily with the analysts and managers who report to her, checking on how the work is going, keeping everyone engaged, and making certain they all feel prepared. She also interacts with customers on a daily basis.
At Perspecta, she notes, movement from a technical track to a management track is possible as long as you identify opportunities and pursue them.
“I started as a systems engineer, and now I’m a program director,” she points out as an example. “The company provided various educational programs along the way, but it also started with the ability to get my graduate degree, something that Perspecta supports for its employees.”
As a new company, Perspecta is in the process of creating various ERGs, according to Cyrille. But, prior to the company’s creation, “I founded the Young Professional Network and also championed our volunteer network. When we became Perspecta, I collaborated with human resources to start a women’s network to support and encourage our female workforce.”
She’s also a member of the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) and Project Management Institute (PMI), two networking and growth organizations for young engineers and project management employees. Via the Women in Technology (WIT) program, Cyrille mentors women who are early in their careers, encouraging them to set ambitious goals.
Find out more about Perspecta careers at perspecta.com/careers. Connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
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