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Brom Stibitz, CIO of Michigan

Do you feel the profile of your role has changed during the pandemic?

I can just tell you, I’ve been in the Department of Technology, Management and Budget for six years now in a couple different roles and there’s never been a time where we have so much goodwill with the agencies based on all the amazing work that the team did over the last year. Agencies are looking to us more as a partner, as an agency that will help them meet their goals rather than just the IT department that says “no.” It’s been a real win. So the question now is how do you take that goodwill and those things you’ve earned and not squander it, continue to build relationships and everything we’ve been working on.

What lesson will you take with you from the pandemic?

When you empower your people to do things, change can happen really fast when it’s necessary. I say that with respect to both my senior staff, so the people that report directly to me, as well as people throughout the organization. You don’t make this kind of substantial change this fast without everyone being able to put the effort into that. It’s not like two people in leadership, sitting in an office, can do this. So with engaged, empowered employees, you can make significant changes very quickly. The other thing that popped out from this is that technology can do it.

How do you anticipate managing a hybrid or remote model of work going forward?

I think it’s a huge opportunity. I think this is probably one of the most exciting times to be a CIO in state government, because we’re rewriting the rules about how work happens in really big organizations. I think being hybrid is a little bit trickier than being 100% remote. When you’re 100% remote, everyone is dialing in from the same seat — all remote. But once you move to hybrid and you have some people in the room and some people not in the room, it becomes trickier to ensure that you have good collaboration, inclusion of all the people and that everyone in your organization gets a voice. But I’m very much looking forward to it. I think it opens up a lot more opportunity for us, and by giving us that flexibility, I think it will allow us to attract and retain the best employees.

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