Jeanne Tisinger, Deputy Director of Support, CIA
As deputy director of support for the CIA, Jeanne Tisinger leads the agency’s business services, including security operations, financial management, supply chain management, real estate acquisition and facilities operations, medical support, human resources, and associated business systems. Lately she says there’s a focus on rebalancing the agency’s support models and using data to drive insights and decision-making. “The approach is to provide the right mix of trusted, tailored support for mission unique needs exclusive to a particular component and concurrently build convenient, shared services enabled by technology that consistently deliver high quality, timely support on a global scale,” Tisinger says. “Leveraging our business data to sense and understand our operating environment is key to delivering exceptional service and streamlining our operations across all our support disciplines.”
Can you talk about the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? How did you conquer that challenge?
I would point to an challenge area rather than a specific challenge — change management. As technologists our roles are all about bringing change into our organizations. It is incumbent upon us to build the mission case for that change. Describe the why and the what to your workforce and your mission partners. Identify your top talent and place them in roles where they can lead the most important change initiatives. Give them top cover by building coalitions of support and endorsement across multiple layers in your organization. When you lead from the front you take a few spears, don’t let that discourage you. Listen to the contrarians — they have valuable insights to share. Let those insights inform your plan. Be consistent in what you are aiming for, but don’t be overly rigid in your path.
What would you say to young women who are thinking about a career in
technology or related fields, or just starting out in their careers? What’s the
best advice you could offer for success?
When someone you trust asks you to take a big, hard job, say yes. They may see something in you that you don’t necessarily see in yourself. They will be there to assist you and ensure you have the support system to succeed. Go for the stretch jobs, not the comfortable jobs. Learning new things, building broader networks, and influencing strategic approaches gives you the opportunity to have an enduring impact on your organization and its workforce.
Why is it important to you to empower women and other minorities to join
more technical and technology-related fields?
Technology is woven through the fabric of every aspect of our professional and personal lives. Knowing how to leverage technology to drive advances in your professional domain is a critical leadership skill. There are so many roles you can play — create the strategy, explore the opportunities, build the program, develop the tools, deliver the services. Choosing a career in technology opens doors, gives you the opportunity to make a difference that matters, and ensures your relevancy in an interconnected community in an increasingly dynamic world.