Women accounted for one-fifth of chief technology officers at top U.S. companies just a few years ago, making the industry leadership of LMI’s Sharon Hays even more noteworthy. As the newly appointed chair of WashingtonExec’s CTO Council, Hays welcomes greater representation in all forms.
“I believe the more diversity you have around the table when you’re trying to solve a problem, the better that solution is likely to be, and the faster you’re likely to come to it,” she said.
After participating in the council for the first time virtually last year, Hays is eager to engage her CTO peers on issues ranging from women in technology to quantum computing.
“I’m interested in the big technologies that are going to impact our business and the way government functions,” she said. “I’m also fascinated by the process of innovation itself and how companies develop products and services.”
Hays’ curiosity stems from a background rooted in policy, a rarity among CTOs. Prior to industry, she spent over a decade in government, notably as associate director and deputy director for science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and as a subcommittee staff director on the House Committee on Science. She says the council has offered great insights from leaders who understand how to deliver capabilities to the federal sector.
“The commonality of public service is integral to the value of the council,” she said. “Some members are hardware companies; some are software companies. But we’re all serving the Washington, D.C., and therefore, primarily, the government community. I think that’s an important thread that draws council members together.”
Hays will work alongside council vice chairman, David Egts, chief technologist of Red Hat’s North America public sector organization.
“He’s been really great to work with and brings such an extensive technology background,” she said. “You get the continuity with someone that has been part of the council for a while and then hopefully I can bring new perspective. We’re a great team.”
While Hays and Egts are formulating a council agenda, the hope is the council will become an incubator for ideas where diverse viewpoints are encouraged. Collaboration is key to innovating the solutions that government needs, Hays said.
“The CTO role is about more than developing new technology,” she said. “It’s about integrating technology so that clients can use it to solve problems. Technology on a shelf does nothing. Figuring out how to apply it, that’s where creativity comes in.”
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