Suma Nallapati, Colorado’s new chief technology officer, is a little more than week into her new job, but despite spending the first 17 years of her career in the private sector she already knows the rewards of public service.
In an interview with StateScoop, Nallapati said her father worked in the banking sector of India’s government for more than 40 years, giving her an appreciation for the work of government employees and the personal satisfaction it can bring.
“I remember him feeling this great sense of accomplishment,” Nallapati said from her Denver office. “We could come home and just be extremely happy. That, of course, happens in the private sector as well, but it seems more profound in government and that’s something I was really attracted to.”
Nallapati, who most recently worked as an assistant vice president at Catholic Health initiatives, a nonprofit healthcare provider, where she was in charge of service delivery, said part of what attracted her to Colorado was the vision of Secretary of Technology Kristin Russell.
Russell, who spent her career in the private sector, most notably as an executive at Oracle and Sun Microsystems, has created a fast-moving culture Nallapati says resembles that of the private sector and not the old stereotype of a slow-moving government entity.
“Secretary Russell is a high-energy leader who has an exciting way of doing things,” Nallapati said. “I’m very familiar with this kind of pace and that, combined with the department’s vision, made it a very enticing place to work.”
Nallapati said she plans to spend her early days with Colorado getting to know the other state agencies and what they focus their energies on. One of her biggest goals, she said, is creating a culture of collaboration within the Office of Information Technology.
She said part of her focus will also be on health care technology, which makes sense based on her background.
“Health care in general is going through an enormous amount of change when you look at things like meaningful use and the way information systems are beginning to be used,” Nallapati said.
One area continuing to be developed, she said, is helping turn the massive amounts of data collected in the health care space and turning it into meaningful analytics.
For example, at CHI she had 9 petabytes of information in storage. The key is taking that next step to transform health care for that better.
“We’re getting to a point where the health care industry is beginning to embrace change,” she said.