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What They Said: Some Takeaways from California CIO Academy

Professionals from the public and private sectors gathered recently for two days of learning, networking and catching up. Here are some impressions from some attendees whose names are familiar in the industry.

Marcie K and team.jpg
Marcie Kahbody (center), deputy secretary of the California State Transportation Agency, participated in a breakout session with almost a dozen current and former department IT leaders from her agency.
The Industry Insider — California team ran into many old friends at the California Public Sector CIO Academy on May 31 and June 1. For many, the gathering in Sacramento was the first time they had attended an in-person event in more than two years. The two-day event was marked by a full slate of guest speakers, informative breakout sessions and intense networking, and it was all topped off with the CIO Academy Awards, in which dozens of state workers were honored for their work in technology.

Andrew Armani
Here’s what a few attendees said about the gathering:

Andrew Armani, co-founder and CEO of AnSurTech and former deputy secretary and agency information officer (AIO) for the state Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency: “The General Session panel on diversity, equity and inclusion was great! The panel members' discussion with different backgrounds and different levels of responsibilities was refreshing and thought-provoking.”

Paul Benedetto, owner of PMB Consulting Services and former undersecretary of operations for the California Technology Agency: “It was great catching up with everyone at the event. One of my takeaways was about the relationships that the CIOs and state staff need to develop with the vendors. There needs to be a more collaborative environment with both the state and the vendors, and there needs to be more trust between the two. The technology issues take care of themselves; it’s the relationships that will help the state move forward on its initiatives.”

Mike Hewitt, president of CalDorado Group: “I especially liked the ‘Collaboration’ session hosted on the last day with George Akiyama (California Department of Transformation CIO) and Marcie Kahbody (deputy secretary and AIO for the California State Transportation Agency). This is the first time I have seen all the agency’s CIOs on the podium together, sharing how they work together across departments to share best practices and help each other solve technical challenges that we see every day at the departmental level.”

Chad Hodges, president of HSB Solutions Inc.: “I really enjoyed the CIO Academy being in person again for the first time in years. There was a buzz in the air and people sharing information and swapping stories about the work-from-home long haul we have collectively endured. Workforce retention and recruiting was a common topic, with lots of movement and retirements looming. There is also a lot of anticipation of what’s to come with the budget surplus, and I for one can’t wait to see how my clients and others are able to deliver.”

Dan Lohrmann, senior fellow with the Center for Digital Government* and former chief information security officer for the state of Michigan: “In talking with people at the CIO Academy, it was clear that cybersecurity is still a top priority — generally No. 1. I also heard a number of people talk about people issues including hiring challenges and the adjustment to hybrid work.”
Joe Panora

Joe Panora, CEO/owner of Panora Associates and former AIO and IT director for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: “Upon reflection on what I observed at the CIO Academy, I can offer a few thoughts:
  • Most organizations will be looking at tools to help effectively manage a hybrid environment especially around recruitment, performance and learning.
  • As departments expand digital services that touch both a mobile workforce and citizens, the implementation of strong security practices will be critical to its success.
  • Making timely, informed, data-driven decisions will rely heavily on the power of machine learning and AI.
  • The use of large data sets and data that crosses multiple departments and jurisdictions will be strongly pursued.

*The Center for Digital Government and Industry Insider — California are part of e.Republic.