Virginia’s chief data officer discusses challenges states face when adopting new technologies

Carlos Rivero, chief data officer for the Commonwealth of Virginia, joined Aileen Black on Leaders and Legends to discuss leadership and change in adopting new technologies. He brings more than 25 years of experience and leadership in technology and public service.

Prior to his appointment as the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first CDO, Carlos served as chief data officer and chief enterprise architect for the Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration in Washington, D.C. He has also worked at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center in Miami, as a physical scientist, and as a research associate at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, where he developed a passion for geospatial information systems, ecological modeling, and data.

He discussed leading and getting organizations through change by utilizing new technology.

“State governments have unique challenges when it comes to budgets, workforce readiness, and technology adoption. Increasingly state and local governments have also been innovative, pushing forward with adopting new technology to help with many operational and constituent-facing operations,” Rivero said, referring to data as the currency of the digital economy. “Organizations must leverage data assets to make the most informed actionable decisions possible.”

Leadership matters and matters immensely. Early in Rivero’s career when confront with a significant lack of leadership, he changed from being an introvert to an extrovert.

“I quickly, realized that you could change your situation to make things the way you want to be,” he said. “You need to change streams to be in the right place.”

Rivero had a college professor who helped him follow his passion. The CDO said it “struck hard and it helped me realize that money was not everything and taught me to be mindful of what you value.  This paved the way as to what my career was going to become.”

The difference between federal and state leadership roles became apparent, as Rivero said at the lower level people are closer to the legislative organization and closer to the constituents.

“In state roles you have to have the intimacy of understanding and working with these stakeholders.  In federal it is much more segmented and time frames are much longer,” he said.

Closing the show, Rivero advised the next generation with insight passed onto him: Follow your passion but practice and hard work must come first before you can find it.

“The more you are willing to invest in hard work and practice, the more you will get out of it and then you will find your passion,” he said. “This is how you will find what you and enjoy and what you are good at.”

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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.

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