Federal CIO shares thoughts on leadership during a crisis

This week on Leaders and Legends, host Aileen Black interviews Suzette Kent,  the federal chief information officer in the Office of Management and Budget.

Interview Highlights:

  • Kent shared her thoughts on leadership during a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, “You need to have clear communications. Stressful situation bring out the best and the worst in individuals. As a leader you need to calmly drive the team to be laser focused on the actions that drive the needed results”
  • Kent shared the best advice and skill she learned from her first boss, “he showed me how to present an unpopular idea to a team, you need to put the risk right on the table. This way you can maintain relationships and develop a framework of possibilities and work out the best options”
  • When asked about lessons learned in a crisis, she shared her experience during the financial crisis, “It taught us the impact issues could have on parts that are interconnected and how it affects other pieces in the process. It will show where the challenges are and provide a list of where you need to build in resilience.”
  • Kent further explained why it was important for effective leaders to ensure that they provide people the tools and resources they need to be successful. When asked about the difference about being a leader in private sector versus public sector, Kent described it as a “foot race versus an obstacle course”. She further stressed that government leaders need to be encouraged to challenge the status quo and be given the latitude to address them. She shared one of the things she enjoys most about the public sector work is the passion and commitment for the mission.
  • Kent closed the show with her advice for the next generations, “Push outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself everyday”,  “Embrace diversity gets a wide range of opinions”, “Learn from your adversity, there is so much to learn from those times”,  “Remember family first, no matter what is going on”

Suzette Kent an industry leader in large-scale business transformation using technology for the world’s most complex organizations. Before taking the role of federal CIO, Kent served as a principal at EY, partner at Accenture, consulting president at Carreker Corporation, and managing director at JPMorgan.

Although technology change has been at the core of her professional career, retooling the workforce and creating new opportunities for people has been an essential element of efforts that she has led.  Kent has served as an enterprise leader for organizational learning, diversity and inclusiveness, and career development at every organization at which she has worked. She is a frequent speaker in global industry forums, publisher of thought leadership pieces, and holds patents in banking processes.

Related Stories


Leaders and Legends

Leaders and Legends

Host Aileen Black interviews federal leaders who have left their mark on government and made a lasting imprint on the nation. Hear what goes on behind the scenes in the nation's capital and why working for the federal government is so unique. Subscribe on PodcastOne.