Donna Seymour, CIO at the U.S. Maritime Administration, has built a successful career in IT in the public sector by embracing each job she has had as a chance to learn and enhance her management skills.
Seymour, 46, began working in the federal government in 1978 as a secretary in the Department of Defense. At the advice of a mentor, she studied to become a computer programmer, and she later became an IT security specialist at the Naval Air Systems Command, or Navair.
The mentor's suggestion turned out to be very good advice. Benefiting from the knowledge and experience of others has helped Seymour in her career ever since. "I've had mentors all the way, even when I was a secretary," she says.
Image Credit: Chris HartloveAs director for national projects at Navair in the mid-1990s, Seymour led a team that built an IT infrastructure to support the organization's major objectives. The $300 million infrastructure included a global system of integrated networks, messaging, public-key infrastructure, Web management and information systems security.
After that, Seymour became a principal in the Program Executive Office for IT at the Department of the Navy, managing an effort to eliminate tens of thousands of redundant business applications across the U.S. Navy. She later was named CIO at the Real Estate Assessment Center at the U.S. Housing and Urban Development department.
About two years ago, Seymour was named CIO of the Washington-based Maritime Administration, which is responsible for overseeing the operations and security of the U.S. maritime transportation system. Among the key IT initiatives she has overseen is the development of a paperless acquisition process -- built on an enterprise content management platform -- that automated much of the multistep bid and proposal process for the administration. By eliminating paper and hundreds of hours of labor, the system has brought huge savings and cut in half the time required for major acquisitions such as ship management services.
Eileen Roberson, associate administrator at the Maritime Administration and Seymour's supervisor, says Seymour is successful in her role largely because of her energy level. "She's probably the most energetic person you'd ever meet," Roberson says.
Seymour's eagerness to gain knowledge is also important. "Especially in the area of information technology, that's key," Roberson says. "You have to be a continuous learner."
Violino is a freelance writer in Massapequa Park, N.Y. Contact him at email@example.com.
Correction: Due to a reporting error, this article initially contained incorrect information. Earlier in her career, Seymour was a principal in the Program Executive Office for IT at the Department of the Navy, not Navair, and later was named CIO at the Real Estate Assessment Center at the U.S. Housing and Urban Development department. The text has been updated.