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Amy Northcutt – D.C.'s Top 50 Women in Tech 2015

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Amy Northcutt

Chief Information Officer
National Science Foundation

While they may not know it, researchers who receive National Science Foundation grants depend on Amy Northcutt's work.

Northcutt, who became CIO in 2012, handles the policy, governance, capital planning and privacy issues that the foundation faces. In addition, she co-chairs the Executive Information Technology Resources Board, and the Capital Planning and Investment Control Board – both of which help determine what the agency's IT budget looks like each year.

Lately, Northcutt has focused on using analytics to help build out the systems that support the funding review process. NSF officials now can mine data included in research proposals to determine what topics have already received funding. Northcutt said her solutions often came from using technology and data as a tool to increase the efficiency of how well someone can get the job done.

Success only comes if you are able to work creatively and collaboratively in a spirit of compromise.

For young women in STEM, Northcutt said finding a mentor to help guide them through the federal government workplace culture was crucial.

Young women should “be open to and looking for a more senior individual or a colleague from whom this new young potential leader could learn," Northcutt said. “With the cultures of each of these STEM disciplines is particular, it's extremely valuable to have someone translate that culture to the person who is new to it, and a mentor offers that."

Working in STEM and public service is just the right mix of challenging and rewarding, Northcutt said.

Public service is “a very challenging environment in which to work because of the design of our Constitution," Northcutt said. “Success only comes if you are able to work creatively and collaboratively in a spirit of compromise, because when the common good is the objective, everyone at the table has something to contribute to determining it."

– Jake Williams

Read the full story about this year's selection of D.C.'s Top 50 Women in Technology, and view the full list here.