Scott Findlater - CIO - Anord Mardix



Lite Technology Solutions, LLC / Normandy Schools Collaborative

TERI GREEN – CIO Interview Series

Can you please provide a little introduction about yourself

My name is Teri Green, and I am a native of Chicago who currently resides in Wentzville, Mo. I am the CISO / Co-Founder of Lite Technology Solutions, LLC, and I sit as the CIO at Normandy Schools Collaborative. I am an innovative IT leader, and I have more than 17 years of combined experience in the telecommunications, education, and technology services industries. From leading and planning IT infrastructures, software product deployments, and strategic operations. I currently hold five degrees, an associate degree in Computer Science from Moraine Valley Community College, a dual Bachelor’s in Information Technology Systems and Computer Engineering from the University of Phoenix, Master’s in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance from Penn State University. With a certification in Advanced Cybersecurity from The University of Phoenix, Information Security Professional (ISC2) IT Security Content Specialist, Inclusive Leadership Certificate –Catalyst, Strategic Applications of IT Project & Program Management from the University of Washington, an Agile scrum master. Now I am pushing to become a future Law student for Syracuse University for Fall 2021 to pursue Cybersecurity Law.

What has your journey to your position been like? What path have you taken?

The path to my journey has not been challenging, which was surprising! Being a minority lesbian in technology, somehow, my thirst for knowledge and need to be one of the best in my craft helped guide me. My passion for technology drove me in ways no classroom could have taught me. I started as an intern at WGN channel 9 in Chicago as an Information technology intern in 2004-2005. I did my first contracting assignment my sophomore year of college with EasePay, which created a Kiosk to pay your light bills and tickets for the City of Chicago. I was the only woman on the project. By the time I was a Junior in College at the age of twenty-five, I was the Assistant Chief Engineer / Information Systems Manager as Spanish Broadcasting Systems WLEY 107.9 FM known as “LaLey” in Chicago. I noticed I was moving in any field I touched quickly because I was intelligent, but the technology was the only place I felt at home. I was eventually flown out to Bristol, CT, and interviewed with ESPN, and I was in heaven just being there. I was sitting in HR waiting on the interviewing manager, and everything seemed so perfect. Somehow someone says, “this is it, this is what you worked for!” Instantly I asked the hiring manager what did I need for his job? He said, a Masters. Looking at the schedule, they were providing and the amount of travel, that seemed impossible. I failed the written test and flew back home. To me, that was the best way to show a company you admired you were not better than them based on who you believed you were. So instead, I left broadcast and decided to focus solely on what I loved, technology. I went to SunGard Availability Services, where I spent five years and finally left as a senior systems recovery engineer. I fell in love with disaster recovery and business continuity, and I was good at it. So I started my company called Lite Technology Solutions, LLC in 2012 as the CIO/ Co-Founder. I have worked on excellent contracts like Transunion, IBM, ATOS/Siemens, BMO Harris, and more. In 2014, I remembered watching the tragic situation of Mike Brown unfold on national television at the time I was in Carmel, IN. I believe in the spirit of manifestation. I remember asking God to use my talent not only to be the difference but make one. Somehow I ended on an assignment in Columbia, Mo for IBM in 2014-2015 and then due to family circumstances ended up in St. Louis, Mo is 2016. Where I took a position as the Director IT Infrastructure and IT Security for a company called “The Fantastechs”. The organization helped schools better their infrastructures and IT security, I assisted in cybersecurity implementations at Special School District and oversaw the upgrade implementations for UCity Schools and Normandy’s at the same time. I was assigned to Normandy Schools in the later part of 2017-2018, the district Mike Brown graduated High School. It came full circle, so I knew it was not by luck nor chance but divine intervention.

In the 2020-2021 school year, Normandy hired me personally, and I became their first-ever CIO for the school district, and I was a minority woman.

Has it always been your vision to reach the position you’re at? Was your current role part of your vision to become a tech leader?

My vision never was surrounded by the title of a position. It was always my vision to evolve a tech team to the point they were no longer tech people but people that serviced technology to make a better overall user experience possible. I’m a firm believer in leading effectively and efficiently, and one must know how to follow in the same manner.

Ultimately, my vision is evident when I reflect on who I have become; the title was blurry. As I grew, it became clear to make the impact I desired. I had to reach the highest level within the organization to pull this off indeed. From the community I came from, it was rare to see a CIO or CTO that resembled me, so I’m not sure it even crossed my mind. I just knew I was different and followed my passion, and it led me through the doors without hesitation.

Have you had a role model or mentor that has helped you on your journey?

I’m glad you asked this question! Once I discovered I was just another figure, I refused to be hidden. Every woman who paved the way in technology to help people like me be more acceptable became my mentor. I studied the works of women like Katherine Johnson, an American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights. I also was in awe of Marian Croak, Ph. D., credited for creating the technology called Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VoIP. VoIP allows for the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet. Seeing Alissa Abdullah | SVP & Deputy CSO @ Mastercard As an award-winning cybersecurity executive, Dr. Abdullah has held her fair share of exciting roles. From her position as a cryptologic engineer for the United States Department of Defense to becoming Deputy Chief Information Officer to the White House under President Obama’s administration. I learned from each of these women limitations only exist in the mind, and if I didn’t mind, there were no limits to whatever I decided to do.

How do you see the role of the technology leader evolving over the next 5 years?

I see the CISO being the over the CIO, given the CISO has to know the infrastructure and be strategic. Traditionally, the CIO focuses on the strategic planning of the organization’s information technology initiatives, while the CISO is more of an executive-level specialist who focuses on maintaining information and data security. Cybersecurity is exploding, and it makes more sense for either the CISO and CIO to report to the CEO or the CISO to be the leader of technology meaning CISO are highly strategic given they have to be. Whereas CIOs are not mandated to know Cyber or infrastructure, however, they are highly effective when they do, in my opinion.

What skills do you think leaders of the future will need in order to thrive?

Budgeting • System design • Program oversight • Negotiation • Business planning • Data security • Developing security plans • Microsoft Hyper-V Server • Implementing security programs • Interpersonal Communication • Team building • Good listening skills • Customer service • Supervision • Designing security controls • PCI Compliance • CIS Compliance • IDS Integration • Intrusion Test Oversight • Incident Response Management

How do you keep current with new skills, technologies and personal development?

I am a forever student, always reading, going to webinars, listening to podcasts, mentoring, going back to school, pursuing certifications, and more because one can be taught in every lesson. I’m currently on the Advisory Board Member, Secure World STL, 2019 to Current Board Member, Missouri State University– Executive Customer

Service Program, 2019 to Current, Mentor, TechLx – Executive Mentor Program, 2020 to Current, Mentor, ICMCP – International Consortium of Minority, Cybersecurity Professionals, 2020 to Current, and Board President – ETA – Education Technology Association St. Louis. I realize technology is more significant than me; it will take us, so I make myself available!

What do you see as the next leap in technology that will impact your business or industry in particular?

I can’t say too much but know I’m betting on myself.

If you were mentoring a leader of the future, what advice or guidance would you give to help them on their way?

Learn the craft and set your stage, and carry out the play. Follow your passion, not the money. If you do what you love, the money will follow! I know you have heard that you can make six figures if you get a cert, and It’s just not actual; if it was just based on certs, everyone would be doing it.

Is there anything in particular that you would still like to achieve in your career or what is the next step on your journey?

I would like to become the first legitimate Cybersecurity Attorney in the world.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

Nothing! I disagree with tactics that are taken on a lot of fronts, but I never question why! I was a foster kid, so I believe that life is not where you come from but where you decide to go!

A big thank you to Teri Green from Lite Technology Solutions, LLC / Normandy Schools Collaborative for sharing her journey to date.

If you would like to gain more perspective from Tech Leaders and CIOs you can read some of our other intereviews here.

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