What is your educational background? How did it lead you to this career?
I went to Louisiana State University, and I actually began majoring in biochemistry, with a minor in psychology and Latin. I later realized that the thrill of problem-solving was not the same when it involved human lives. I graduated with a degree in journalism. When you think about it, journalism teaches you to be curious, inquisitive, and investigative. I also spent a great deal of time with technology tools as part of that program and using technology and motivating people was a combination of disciplines that was exciting to me.
So what was the first step in your career path?
After graduating, I entered the consulting field. I really didn’t know which specific field I was most drawn to and wanted a chance to explore a few options. But when I started working in big technology transformation in the financial services, I was excited about the massive advances in global banking, digital service delivery, customer-centric design and overall innovation culture.
Can you share what you are most proud of in your career prior to your position as CIO?
For over 28 years, I held various positions with some fairly focused goals: taking paper out of systems; driving efficiencies for customers and businesses; launching new products; and most important, marrying technology with improving banking services and operations.
When did cybersecurity enter the picture?
My interest in cyber came from looking at supply side risk in the equation. Because financial services are leading targets of cyber attacks, that sector is often on the cutting edge. Security of information is mission critical in financial services; and therefore, tools, tactics and risk approaches must be of the highest caliber.
How did you come to be the CIO of America?
That is a long story. Across my career, I worked with many of the largest global technology companies to build new products, services or address issues. Those experiences developed lasting relationships. I worked with companies that were totally transforming their products and services—many of those delivering government services. I also worked to solve multiple complex industry problems that required legislation, technology and new operating models—those experiences led me to a discussion about the Administration’s vision for transforming how government uses technology to better service the American people. I am “all-in” on that journey.
What has this meant to you?
I am honored to have this opportunity to serve my country using skills and experiences gained across my years in the battleground of global financial services.
How do you want to change the mindset of young women and others?
I want to bring more women into this field. Cybersecurity, the ability to connect patterns and be tenacious in problem-solving—these are things women are good at. The government serves a diverse population, so it’s important for us to bring a diversity of thought to the table to solve a problem, whether it is cyber or a technology problem. I know a diverse team can come up with a better solution. My role as CIO is to bring those diverse teams together to drive better outcomes for everyone.