A Day in the Life of a CIO

A Day in the Life of a CIO


I have a colleague, Kerry, who I see normally about once per year at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo.  He struck me as having a knack of accurately anticipating what new technology trends might become widely adopted.  The last time I saw him, I hadn’t seen or spoken to him for about three years.  So, I was glad to catch up on hearing his insights into the wonderful world of technology.  He encouraged me to blog and introduced me to Twitter.  He may have created a monster.


Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows you to write very brief text updates that can be published and seen by anyone or by those you designate.  Several Goddard Space Flight Center missions, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) , Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST), Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), Dust Mitigation Vehicle (DMV), Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), use Twitter to communicate the experience of “A Day in the Life of …”.  It took me a while to get this Twitter thing.  But, I now understand some of the capabilities that this technology offers and how a CIO can use this in her leadership toolkit.


My mother, Harriette, often asks me, “Lil’ Girl, what the heck do you do all day? I tell everyone my daughter is a CIO, but I don’t really know what that means”.  I told her I give advice to Goddard’s Center Director on Information Technology.  She asked, “What is Information Technology?”. I told her it was about computers.  She said, “Well, why didn’t you just say that?”  I reflected a bit more on her question and offer an exemplar.


*     Leaving home @ 7:45 am 2 make  7:45 mtg w/ my Deputies.  Grab a piece of cheese 4 breakfast; kiss husband; back out of driveway grateful I avoided running over sprinkler head & flower bed. Again.


*     Arriving @ 8:00 am 4 7:45 mtg. Run back 2 car 2 retrieve coffee.  Review upcoming activities 4 week.  Negotiate coverage 4 mtgs 4 week. Raise hot operational issues. Sync up on strategic stuff that we’re working.


*     Jumping in car & arrive @ 8:30 am Executive Council mtg in nick of time. Pretend like I don’t know how 2 debug Blackberry, Entourage, or Outlook problems.  Pretend like I understand what a Cryogenic Radiometer is while I sneak a peak @ bberry . Catch up w/ colleague 2 discuss some important IT Transformation strategic issues.  I talk while he pretends 2 care.


*     Jump in car 2 go 2 staff mtg w/ my direct reports. Encourage them on progress of IT Transformation strategy. Relate high points from exec council mtg. Hear their status on important issues. Pretend like I know more than they do @ debugging Blackberry, Entourage, or Outlook problems.


*     Out of mtg running 2 office for noon telecon. Grab a handful of messages from vendors – New Best Friends (NBFs) – who pretend like they have solutions 2 all my problems. No time 4 lunch.


*     On telecon called by NASA CIO. Some kind soul brings me lunch – ½ chicken salad wrap & bottle of H2O. I inhale lunch; listen 2 issues @ agency projects, acquisition timelines, OMB direction, standardization, security. Multitasking – catch up on Chris Dorobek & Federal Computer Week headlines; read email; schedule mtgs; respond to questions; approve waivers 4 desktop purchases. I have upset stomach.


*     Run 2 ladies room 4 1st time & have ad hoc discussion on status of my procurement. Look @ watch & pick up pace.


*     Jump in car 4 1:00 mtg glad I’m on time. Consider driving over grass to dust person who’s taking last parking place. Let out heavy sigh. My feet hurt.


*     Arrive @ 3 hr strategy mtg w/ executive council. Exhaust undergraduate Latin derivation skills trying 2 figure out what “exozodi” means. Send buddy blackberry msg 2 ask. Didn’t have 2 pretend 2 b interested in this discussion. Star stuff and polar ice caps are cool.


*     Jump in car 2 catch industry grip & grin downtown. Slow down @ photo traffic enforcement zone on New York Ave; wish I could travel greater than speed of light so I could arrive b4 I left.  Get 2 City Club. Talk my way into full parking lot.


*     Grip n grin w/ 100 NBFs. Pretend I remember their names. Dodge ones who called me 2day. Collect biz cards. 4got mine, again. Square cheese and red wine 4 dinner. I’m tired & my feet hurt.


*     Driving home. Sneak peak at Deputies’ emails on bberry at red lights. Call husband to talk on 30 minute ride. Listen 2 how his day was. He asks @ mine. Reminds me I’m too smart to call people stupid. I’m humbled.


*     Arriving home @ 9:00 pm. Read @ respond to “due COB today” stuff. Respond to Deputies.


*     Washing face, brushing teeth, taking sleeping pill.  Twitter, Facebook, Hotmail.  5-star Sudoku and listen 2 news til 11:00 pm.


*     Go to bed. Say prayers, hope I’ll sleep. Eureka, just figured out what to do about Enterprise Architecture.


*     Awake at 2:00 am remembered something I forgot to do. Pray again, and give thanks for being the CIO of the Goddard Space Flight Center and contributing to our nation’s space program. 

4 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of a CIO”

  1. You are One busy Gal.
    Keep up the good work.
    NASA definately has a Jewel of a CIO.

  2. Thank you for honestly sharing your “day in the life” of a NASA CIO. It is good to know that management is human, and that people are people.

  3. Linda, what a great topic to write about. I always pondered the extent of what you do. Now I know why I can never reach you. Your topics are always pertinent and engaging for your readers. You also never fail to relay the many nuances of a pioneering CIO in today’s technological marketplace.

    Kudos to You!


  4. And now, when you are considering all the people who work for NASA, throw in “children” and all the associated tasks; throw in “single parents” and sole responsibility for the job and children…. we see how your days are – think about how busy days are for the rest of us too…

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