IE11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

PG&E’s New Cloud-DevOps Manager Reflects on ‘Journey’

“My goal is to build automation of the infrastructure,” Shamal Siwan says, “to create the DevSecOps culture that is taking security requirements and putting that into a DevOps mindset where automation is the key to unite people, so that everybody follows the same process … so we can ship faster, better, and avoid outages.”

PG&E has a new senior manager over its Cloud Platforms and DevOps Engineering team, and he has deep roots in state government technology.

Shamal Siwan joined the utility this month, coming from the California Department of Technology (CDT), where he was a platform engineering principal. Since leaving the private sector and joining the state in April 2012, Siwan has worked in several large departments in roles that involved data, engineering, architecting and management.

Shamal Siwan.jpg
Shamal Siwan
Siwan’s “journey” in the public sector took him from the State Controller’s Office (SCO) to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), then back to SCO, then to CDT. From there, he was “sent to Child Welfare Digital Services to learn DevOps engineering” before returning to CDT.

“That’s how my journey began,” Siwan told Techwire. He said he’s always enjoyed working for the benefit of the public – both in state government and now with a large utility.

Siwan is quick to credit some of his supervisors, managers and mentors along the way for the opportunities they gave him, citing Rick Klau, the state’s chief technology innovation officer; Scott Gregory, now deputy director for technology for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection; and Conrad Long, now the operations chief for CDT’s Office of Information Security.

“It’s been a good journey,” Siwan said, also name-checking state Chief Information Officer Amy Tong; Chris Cruz, former state deputy CIO and CDT’s chief deputy director; and state Chief Information Security Officer Vitaliy Panych as among those who encouraged him to broaden his skills and move into management.

While working for the state, Siwan was able to work on a number of urgent, high-profile projects, including standing up multiple COVID-19 websites for the state and advancing its vaccine record initiative. He was, for a time, loaned to PG&E to work on its Public Safety Power Shutoff initiative.

Now, as PG&E’s senior manager for Cloud Platforms and DevOps Engineering, Siwan’s come full circle – and added management to his job description. He has about 15 people on his team, he said, and he’s hiring more – specifically, a manager and more engineers.

Siwan chose to move to PG&E, he said, because it’s an opportunity to bring what he learned at CDT to a bigger organization. He said he was an “evangelist” for change management with the state, and he plans to continue that enthusiasm in his new PG&E role.

“PG&E is a good fit,” he said. “I saw how big their footprint is.”

His priorities with PG&E, he said, are:

  • Continuing to push innovation. “It’s not easy to bring this new concept in,” he said. Citing his experience with CDT, he said that allowing developers to learn and experiment can save an entity a lot of money that might have otherwise gone to contractors and vendors.
  • “My goal is to build automation of the infrastructure … to create the DevSecOps culture that is taking security requirements and putting that into a DevOps mindset where automation is the key to unite people, so that everybody follows the same process … so we can ship faster, better, and avoid outages.”

Siwan said PG&E works with more than 100 vendor-partners across a dozen lines of business. He said he’s still settling in at PG&E and doesn’t yet want to be inundated by vendors’ calls, but for those who have a timely proposal or concept, he welcomes contact via his LinkedIn profile.
Dennis Noone is Managing Editor of Techwire. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C. He lives in the Northern California foothills.