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News | April 6, 2016

DCMA employee grateful for rotational assignment as Keystone

By Justin Zaun DCMA Garden City

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. - Defense Contract Management Agency employee Marta Akopyan learned a lot in the agency’s Keystone program.

“The perks were many,” said Akopyan, who is now a contract administrator here. “You receive on-the-job training, career advancement and mentoring opportunities.”

Near the end of the program, Akopyan participated in a rotational assignment at DCMA Dallas’ San Antonio office Nov. 8-20.

“The experience was eye opening,” said Akopyan. “The rotation gave me a chance to see how the San Antonio contracting department worked closely with quality assurance, legal, and even the Defense Contract Audit Agency to solve problems. I learned how they handle a variety of workloads as well as their best practices. It was also interesting to work with grants, which they do frequently, because we do not deal with grants as often at DCMA Garden City.”

During the rotation, she also discovered a restaurant, Whatabaurger, which she described as “amazing.”

Although the Texas food and hospitality were highlights of her trip, Akopyan’s primary objective during the two-week rotation was to learn from her DCMA colleagues on topics such as incurred cost audits, negotiation and settlement of rates, contract closeouts, canceling funds, and other functions performed at the contract management office.

Akopyan’s team leader, Martin Han, arranged the rotational assignment with the contracts team supervisor, Elda Swan, at DCMA Dallas’ San Antonio office. Han and Swan developed a workload and training plan for Akopyan for the assignment. All Keystones in their third year of the program are eligible for rotational assignments.

“It was our pleasure to host Marta,” said Swan. “Our goal was to provide training, especially in those areas that our office handles that DCMA Garden City may not be exposed to. She spent one-on-one time with administrative contracting officers and contract administrators, and was extremely receptive to the training provided.”

Akopyan, who graduated from the Keystone program in January, began her DCMA career in 2011 as part of the Student Career Experience Program, which is now part of the Office of Personnel Management Pathways Program. She said rotational assignments are educational and encouraged all eligible Keystones to take advantage of the opportunity.

“It’s a rare chance to learn, develop and build networks with other DCMA offices,” Akopyan said. “I was awarded an amazing chance to learn hands on and get the knowledge that classroom training can’t provide. I also met professionals whom I can always turn to with questions.”

Swan said she would like to see more Keystones take advantage of rotational assignments.

“I am hopeful that more DCMA employees will have the opportunity to rotate to various locations,” said Swan. “I think it is helpful to see different approaches to similar issues. Don’t miss the opportunity.”

Akopyan, who believes rotations benefit the contract management office as well as the employee, took meticulous notes during her visit and has integrated some of what she learned into her current job.

“The notes I took are very useful to me,” she said. “I frequently turn to them for guidance as I do my work. What I learned in San Antonio will stay with me throughout my career. I am very grateful to the San Antonio team for the experience.”

In addition to the valuable on-the-job training, Akopyan said she will also retain a fondness for the Lone Star state’s food and culture.

“I will miss the people from the San Antonio office, whom I greatly thank for the experience,” she said. “I will also miss the Texas culture. They seem to appreciate good food as much as I do, and I will definitely miss Whataburger.”