Diana Bittle is the CIO for American Fidelity, where she’s spent the past 22 years building a career in technology. After hearing about her path to leadership, we were inspired to share 3 key takeaways that forged her success. This is the first in our Customer Spotlight series where we share insights and lessons learned from security leaders.
“Do what makes you happy, and the success will follow.”
From a very young age, Diana was set on pursuing a career within the medical field. Not because she dreamed of being a doctor, but primarily because it was a career path her family approved of. Throughout her school years, she tried to make it work by choosing classes that interested her, but it wasn’t until she was sitting in a lecture about soap (yes, soap) that she realized she needed to hit the reset button and find what made her, not her parents, happy.
After a short break from school, Diana realized her passion and went back to pursue a degree in math. She was exposed to the world of technology through a programming class, which then opened the door to a new-found passion for computers. So while it took the pursuit of something she didn’t love to find the path that was right for her – Diana found what made her happy, and her success followed shortly after.
“Losing a battle doesn’t mean you’ve lost the war.”
After being in a development role for about 11 years, Diana came to a fork in her career where she needed to decide between two paths: a technical one, or a leadership one. She took a leap of faith and chose leadership, where she quickly learned that it would take a whole new type of skillset to be successful in this next phase of her career. When she wasn’t chosen for the first two leadership positions she applied for, Diana sought advice from a career coach, who helped her recognize that soft skills were just as important, if not more important, than the technical ones.
So instead of being discouraged, Diana saw it as an opportunity to understand “the other side of the coin” and concentrated on self-improvement. She went back to school for a Masters in leadership, where she learned how to harness her soft skills and improve her emotional intelligence in a business setting.
“If you don’t have a mentor, find one.”
For Diana, having a mentor was (and still is) crucial to her personal and professional growth. Specifically, someone who isn’t afraid to tell you where you might not be doing the right things… someone who can help you understand where your blind spots are and be that extra set of eyes that helps you read the room.
An Asian American, born in Adana, Turkey, I serve as the Vice President, Chief Information Officer for American Fidelity. Altogether, I have been in technology at American Fidelity for 22 years and absolutely love my job and company. I spent most of my time at AFA in software development and spent a few years with IT infrastructure, IT operations, and IT security.
While working at American Fidelity, I completed my undergraduate degree in Mathematics (the true love of my life) with an emphasis on Computer Science from the University of Central Oklahoma (Go Bronchos!) and a Master’s degree in Administrative Leadership from the University of Oklahoma (Boomer Sooner!). Additionally, I have earned 40 industry and technology certifications, because I find myself easily bored when not studying something.
I currently serve on the Board of Trustees for the Oklahoma Engineering Foundation and also serve as the board Secretary. As a part of the OEF, I am the state co-chair for the Oklahoma MATHCOUNTS program, which is a middle school math competition program (shameless plug!). Additionally, I serve on the Advisory Board for Oklahoma Women in Technology, serve on a number of University Computer Science and MIS advisory boards, and my family founded the Bittle Family Scholarship for women pursing Math or Technology degrees at Oklahoma universities. I love working in the community and have served on the Board of Directors for Free to Live, served as assistant den leader for my son’s Boy Scout den, served as the IT Sector Chief for the Oklahoma Infragard FBI program, and have volunteered for many non-profit organizations through Leadership OKC Class 35 (BCE) and membership in Beta Sigma Phi sorority. I currently am a volunteer photographer for the Oklahoma Make-a-Wish Foundation and Oklahoma City Ballet.
My main hobbies are photography, silversmithing, and scrapbooking, but I never met a craft I didn’t like. I have been married for 27 years to my high-school sweetheart, Steven – IT professional by day/musician by night, and have a 16 year old son who loves wrestling, volleyball, and track. So, my other hobbies include attending metal concerts, track meets, and wrestling matches.