After 37 years, Joe Klimavicz is still dedicated to the mission of public service

Joe Klimavicz, managing director of KPMG and former Justice Department CIO, joins host Aileen Black on this week's Leaders and Legends to talk about leadership ...

Joe Klimavicz, managing director of KPMG and former Justice Department chief information officer, joined host Aileen Black on this week’s Leaders and Legends to talk about leadership and the benefits of being a long-term public service. Klimavicz provided inspirational and practical advice for leaders during stressful times and urged the next generation to consider public service. Klimavicz had a 37-year career in public service with roles at DOJ, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the CIA.

Interview highlights:

  • Klimavicz shared his perspective on being an authentic leader, saying, “Know yourself, know your business and have a clear vision. Act on the facts when you make decisions and always demonstrate a high standard of conduct.” He added that although “George Washington lost more battles than he won … he employed a winning strategy by choosing the right battles to take a stand, great leaders choose their battles wisely.”
  • When leading in arduous times, Klimavicz said, “Especially when the end is not certain, you need to provide a clear vision. And remind your team that though there are bumps in the road we will get through it. You need to be visible and provide clear communications that are laser focused on top priorities. You need to demonstrate passion for your mission and be likeable/approachable.”
  • According to Klimavicz, the only thing  a leader really has control over is time. He called it important to regularly review how you spend your time. For example, he reviews his calendar and tries to have one-third each of tactical, strategic and workforce issues. Klimavicz stressed the need to be sure you spend time on workforce issues for your people, as this will pay dividends both short and long term.
  • He closed the interview by encouraging the next generation to go into public service. “The mission kept me in public service for 37 years. You can get the opportunity to make a significant difference early in your career and have great influence. This country needs great public servants that are passionate about the mission and can make a difference for this country.”

At KPMG LLP, Klimavicz leads the government CIO advisory practice and helps government clients develop and implement digital transformations. His 37-year career in the federal government began with the CIA as a scientist, and culminated at DOJ as deputy assistant attorney general and CIO, from May 2014 until March 2020. Klimavicz also served as NOAA CIO and director of High Performance Computing and Communications from January 2007 until May 2014, and as the NGA deputy CIO.

In 2012, he received the U.S. Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Executive Service, and he is a CIO-SAGE at the Partnership for Public Service.

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