Sixer Spotlight with Athena Bozak
Meet Athena Bozak
After four years of active duty service in the U.S Air Force, Athena Bozak shares her journey to Agile Six and how she transitioned into the tech world, found wholeness, learned self-management, and found a place where she continues to support Veterans through the impactful work she is doing in user experience research.
Tell us about your Journey to Agile Six.
I served in the Air Force from 2003 to 2007. I was stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi, and Travis Air Force Base in California, where I served as a Nutritional Medicine Technician. In 2004, I met my husband, who is now a 20-year retired Air Force Veteran. After having our first child in 2007, I left the service and then joined the Department of Defense, where I worked for the Navy and the Air Force until 2016. I then transitioned to the tech world with Agile Six supporting our Veterans.
My first role at Agile Six.
I started working at Agile Six in December 2016. I was one of the company’s very first employees. I was on a contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs working as a Senior Program Analyst for about a year and a half. I then transitioned over to the operational side primarily working with our founders, Ernie Ramirez and Robert Rasmussen, and supporting Agile Six through its early stages and rapid scale.
How I continue to support Veterans as a UX Researcher.
I developed a passion for user experience (UX) design during that time. With the encouragement and professional development support from Agile Six, I became a UX Designer and Researcher. Today, I am a researcher for the Diffusion Marketplace team, supporting the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Attending the IEX 2022 VHA Innovation Experience Conference
Diffusion Marketplace is a website that our team, alongside the VA, has built to serve as a discovery and collaboration tool that curates promising, engaging, innovative practices and programs that are developed and designed by the VA. The intent is to have a hub to share best practices so that VA facilities across the nation all have access to the knowledge, resources, and tools to provide the best care to our Veterans.
Q. As a Veteran, how important is the work that you're doing?
The work is very important and critical to the wellness of all our Veterans. I personally receive my care at the VA, my husband receives his care at the VA, and my close circle of friends all receive care at the VA. This project hits close to home, and I'm very passionate about the work we do.
We have a mindset as a collective that the work we do is for purpose over profit, and we believe in the vision and mission of this work; our Nation’s Veterans are in good hands. Some of the other contracts we work on include the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the CDC. I'm very proud to be a part of the work we do as a company and bettering the lives of others.
I’m very proud to be able to do all of the things that make me whole without feeling like I'm sacrificing anything or not being my true self.
Q. What core value resonates most with you – Purpose, Wholeness, Trust, Self-Management, Inclusion?
Wholeness stands out to me a little more just because I have never felt that in any other company. To be my true self and stay true to my values, morals, goals, motivations, and aspirations, I can do all those things while working at Agile Six, and never once have I felt that I was sacrificing anything. Being able to do all those things and still do what I love professionally while helping the greater community and making things for good, I feel whole. I don't think I've ever felt that prior to Agile Six.
Q. What was the biggest challenge you tackled coming over to Agile Six?
My biggest challenge was coming from a very structured environment, both in the military and in the government, where there was a hierarchy, managers, and micromanaging, to a teal organization where everything is self-managed. You're accountable for your actions with your team and with yourself. That was a big transition.
After years and years of having a set way of doing something very structured, your company suddenly has complete trust in you; how do you work with that?
The transition was a little difficult because I've always been waiting for someone to tell me what to do or how to do it, and that never came. It wasn't because I was being left behind or ignored. It was because I was trusted to make the decisions independently and use my best judgment. Agile Six helped instill those values and show me the way.
Transitioning to self-management was very positive as it taught me how to be more self-organized and self-managed professionally and within my own personal life.
Q. Is Agile Six a place where Veterans can thrive?
It's a great place for Veterans. The military itself is very diverse in the people that serve. Agile Six is the same. There is a very diverse, intelligent group of people here at Agile Six, and we're very inclusive as well. I think Veterans coming in can feel that sense of camaraderie that they did in the military, regarding diversity, but definitely have more support when it comes to inclusion. Our mission and values are very strong and resonate a lot with the military culture in many ways. Agile Six is an excellent place for Veterans wanting to come into tech.
Q. What has surprised you the most about working here?
What surprised me the most was the amount of support and encouragement I get here to improve and grow and to do what makes me happy and whole. Just being able to have that support from Agile Six to be able to grow has been something that I've never experienced before.
Something else that surprised me is that the competition is removed at this company. At other companies, you might find that you're trying to compete with the next person to get to the next level. I’ve never felt that here because everyone is treated as an equal. It does not matter if you have 20 more years of experience, I've never felt the need to compete or need to have a certain title. I've always felt equal to everybody else here.
Q. Why do you think Agile Six is a better place to work?
Agile Six is a better place to work because we are different from many other companies in that we actually do put people first. We share a collective vision to help our communities, help our Veterans and help our beneficiaries because, for us, it truly isn't about the profit. It's about the purpose and our “just cause.” It's not like any other company that I've worked for.
Q. What has been the most rewarding part of working here?
The most rewarding part is doing a 180 in my career. I’m doing what I love for once in my life, watching our teams’ efforts come to fruition and implemented, and seeing the direct impact it’s making for our Veterans and clinicians helping the VA. It’s an amazing feeling. Knowing I contributed while raising a family and still doing all the things I love, such as fostering an infant, has been rewarding because I've been able to do everything and then some. I do not think I would have been able to do this anywhere else.
Q. Did you find your passion here?
I've always known I wanted to be some kind of designer since I was about seven. My dad was a product designer for Louis Vuitton and Coach, so I was always intrigued by design. When I became an adult, I wasn't sure where I could fit that in, where I could be a designer, where I could do research, or how to improve things. How do I use that in the real world? Agile Six did instill in me, teach me, and show me how it's used, how it changes lives, and how it's being used in the world today. I was captivated by that. Agile Six pushed me to that finish line to make my dream a reality using research and design for the greater good.
Q. What would you say to someone considering a career at Agile Six?
I would say 100% go for it. We all share the same vision of doing better for the world. The possibilities are endless here at Agile Six, and anybody here would be happy, especially if you don't like to be micromanaged. You won't get that here.
I’m really happy at Agile Six. If anybody's looking to break into tech or develop skills in tech, look at companies such as Agile Six that have a purposeful mission and put people first. It does change how you perceive things in life and genuinely allows you to appreciate the work you do.
There's just so much out there that needs improvement, and I know Agile Six is all for it, and I'm here for it too. We've got better work to do, and I am proud to be building better with Agile six.
Sixer Spotlight is an ongoing series to share the stories of our team. If Athena’s story piqued your interest in a career with Agile Six, explore our open roles.