I’ve been thinking a lot, recently, about what comes next for government agencies as they adopt new technologies to deliver mission critical services and products to constituents and citizens. In a recent piece for Federal Technology Insider I shared my thoughts on how CIOs can differentiate between the hype-cycle of next-generation technologies and identify those that will actually improve efficiency, reduce costs, and drive material change.
There is, however, another essential element that needs to be in place to maximize the return on investment in technology – a workforce that not only understands the technology, but is also of a next-gen mindset. Before there are any quips about a next-gen mindset being part of its own hype cycle and mixed up with the platitudes of generational exceptionalism, hear me out. What I mean by a next-generation mindset when it comes to workers is that we need to find the people – no matter their age or background – whose essential skill sets encompass not only the technical capabilities, but who prioritize collaboration and value cross-functional working relationships, as well as an unyielding drive for success.
If you’re thinking that this is a tall order, you’re right. It’s a tall order no matter what subfield of IT you’re looking to hire in and it’s a tall order no matter whether you’re a private sector hiring manager, or a government recruiter. Obviously there are some companies and some regional locations where it’s a little easier to attract this level of talent, but even that’s changing. Where once Silicon Valley was looked to as the epicenter of computer science and related fields, there are now outposts of technical excellence across the country graduating our next generation of IT leaders. I’ve been particularly impressed with Louisiana Tech University, where CSRA has established an active partnership helping to build curriculum, equip labs, and create connections between academia and government. Not only do we work with students on campus, but over the last two summers we’ve enjoyed having Professor Debra Blackman as our faculty intern. She has worked with us in Agile and DevOps and then returned to campus armed with perspective from the field that then shapes curriculum and student experience with practical applications of theoretical knowledge.
Over the last year as we’ve fostered our team at CSRA we’ve gained a lot of experience in building teams, melding cultures, and putting our diversity to work to solve complex challenges. Now, as we move forward we’re eager to build our next generation. We’re looking to build our ranks with military veterans whose commitment to excellence and understanding of team dynamics is second to none. We look to high achievers from non-technical backgrounds, whose passion is contagious and whose eagerness to learn propels them quickly to understanding and engagement. We look to new graduates to challenge our legacies and we look to mid-career professionals to share the best practices and knowledge that have propelled their success.
In the end, a next-generation workforce, one that can truly put technology to work to solve our customer’s conundrums and drive the mission isn’t about being born in the waning days of the 20th Century, or how many technical certifications you hold. Rather, the next-generation team we’re building is one that no matter their age, or background, possesses uncommon insight drawn from their unique experiences and holds a commitment to innovation, collaboration, and a desire to work in partnership with our customers to help them deliver on their mission.