“The excitement of pushing my limits has always driven me in life, and it all starts with having passion in everything I do.”

From top Russian institutions, to start ups across the United States, to track and field podiums, and now, to her Finance and Operations team lead role with Datacom, Diana Ismagilova’s drive and enthusiasm for pushing herself has taken her a long way. 

Diana Ismagilova sporting triple jump athlete action shot

Diana’s career journey began with a decision to study finance, which she says she was drawn to because it helps define clear business objectives and provided her with an understanding of ‘what a company does, how they do it, and why.’ 

After completing her honours degree in financial management in her native Russia and landing an investment role at one of the nation's largest banks, Diana received a grant which took her abroad to the United States, where she had the opportunity to engage with CRDF Global as a financial advisor in startups across Silicon Valley, Washington DC, and Boston. 

“At barely twenty years old, it was a lifechanging experience that set the foundation for my success when I fell in love with New Zealand shortly after, and what was intended to be a month-long visit became nine years, a citizenship, and a career in technology at Datacom.”  

She credits her willingness to take her career in a new direction and branch out into the IT sector as stemming from a growth mindset.  

“In order to grow, we need to seek out opportunities to expand our knowledge and skills. Tech has plenty of opportunities – there's always something new.” 

Right now she is growing her capabilities by pursuing a Master of Professional Accounting and working toward becoming a Chartered Accountant.  

“I decided to enhance my accounting knowledge so I can have full oversight of financial journeys and provide more value to the Datacom customer.” 

Leading the way

In her role as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations team lead, Diana uses her expertise in digital financial transformation projects, migrating customers financial systems as she and her team consult on, implement, and support the process. 

Most recently, she worked with 2degrees, supporting them to move from Excel to Dynamics 365 in a key area of their business which is more suitable for year-end audits and has made it easier to manage month-ends.  

She initially joined Datacom as a contractor, before becoming a consultant and then team lead – all in less than three years.  

“Datacom empowers every single employee to gain the knowledge and skills to be proficient in what they do and from there, progress in their career. I love that we have challenging projects that mean we are continuously learning, and that Datacom’s managers keep us accountable for our actions and support our growth.” 

There were two vital elements of this support that Diana says helped her through her transition to team lead: the Datacom Emerge leadership programme, and the expertise of her own supervisors. 

“The Emerge programme equipped me with excellent fundamentals for the next phase of my career, but I’m especially lucky to have the managers that I do. They always have my back and are a significant positive influence on me, helping shape my vision and direction for the future, and I work to be that same positive influence for my own team.” 

Sporting mentality an asset for work

As the six-time Auckland champion and twice national silver medallist in triple jump, Diana’s recent move to join the Athletics Canterbury board is yet another growth opportunity, and one where she is combining her key passions to propel her toward her goals. 

“My long-term goal is to become a director or member of the board, so joining Athletics Canterbury is a step in the right direction as I continue building my skills” says Diana, who credits being an athlete for over twenty years as being the source for thinking strategically about life, which leads her to success. 

“Sport promotes valuable skills like teamwork, discipline, and perseverance on top of wellbeing. My sporting background has been fundamental in shaping me as a person, so having the opportunity to spread the benefits of sport in the community means a lot to me.” 

“Bringing my professional knowledge into my athletic endeavours – and the knowledge from my athletic background into my career – makes me a better leader.” 

For those interested in pursuing a similar career path, her advice is to start with a strong base knowledge of the field, develop your critical thinking abilities, stay on top of new tech, and build your network.  

“If you push yourself, you’ll be surprised by what you can achieve, and the positive impact it can have.” 

Related industries
Financial services Professional services Public sector
Related solutions
Advisory & consulting Platforms & applications