Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence
Office of National Intelligence
Stephanie O'Sullivan holds the most senior position of any woman in the U.S. intelligence community and wields great influence over one of the most fundamental organizational and technological transformations undertaken in the history of U.S. intelligence.
O'Sullivan chairs the so-called Deputies Committee – a group of deputy directors from each of the 17 major intelligence agencies – overseeing the effort to develop and deploy a common IT computing enterprise, known as the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise.
With a $40 billion intelligence budget, the IT portion is “a fairly significant endeavor to oversee," O'Sullivan said in an interview with FedScoop.
There are a lot of cultural signals … that have made it a challenge for all of us to overcome.
The influx of women into senior leadership positions throughout the intelligence community sort of crept up on everybody, but it wasn't a fluke, O'Sullivan said.
“The crystallizing moment for all of us was a couple of years ago when we were at a hearing on [Capitol] Hill and it was [National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director] Letitia Long, [National Reconnaissance Office Director] Betty Sapp and myself testifying to Sen. [Dianne] Feinstein. We didn't even realize it, but she stopped the hearing and said 'I don't think I've ever seen this before. I have a hearing and the panel are all women.' And of course, we were testifying to a woman chairman," O'Sullivan said.
“You look at the top one, two or three positions in the intelligence agencies, you're going to see a senior female leader. And that occurred fairly naturally."
O'Sullivan said she's hopeful that more women will get involved in the intelligence community because it's a job worth doing. “There are a lot of cultural signals somewhere out there in society that have made it a challenge for all of us to overcome."
Her advice for success? “Work with people you want to learn from and on problems worth solving."
– Dan Verton