Jumping Into Tech and Cyber: A Q&A with Marie Russell
What drew you to a career solving IT and cyber challenges for government customers?
IT and cybersecurity issues are fascinating, and it’s an exciting time to be in the field because the challenges are constantly changing. I have been involved with the federal government since early in my career when I led channel sales and marketing across vertical markets. I first became interested in cybersecurity when I got involved with AFCEA almost fifteen years ago and I joined the Homeland Security Committee. I realized that IT and cyber issues touch on everything in the federal government. These are some of the most important challenges we’re grappling with today. Cybersecurity ensures our national competitive advantage and is pivotal to our growth.
What drew me to Maximus is that we have a concerted effort around cybersecurity and a strong track record in helping federal programs enable citizens and providing a secure engagement. It’s important work as we support citizen services across health, financial services, and homeland security. We have a direct impact on building trust in government services.
At Maximus, I manage strategic alliance partnerships across our technology offerings, including large technology partners such as AWS, Google and Mandiant, Salesforce, etc. What I really like is that partnerships expand Maximus’s ability to support customers and the agency’s mission. We create new solutions needed by our customers and leverage emerging technology as we modernize with our customers.
What advice do you have for women pursuing government IT and cyber careers?
Jump in! There are a lot of opportunities and a shortage of people in the industry. Diversity is important to Maximus, our partners, and our customers. Diversity is also critical to finding solutions to complex problems facing the future of government. We need more women in the industry overall.
When I started in the industry, there were more women entering the workforce, but there are still times when I’m the only woman in a meeting. It’s rare to see a meeting that’s 50/50. I encourage women to get engaged and go into STEM fields. Fortunately, a lot of women today are digital natives, and that makes them comfortable with IT.
In your opinion, what is the No. 1 challenge facing government, and how can technology help?
Cyberattacks are the biggest threat to government—and business as well—and have been for many years, so cybersecurity and resiliency have to be the top priorities. The government has particular concerns with privacy, intellectual property, national secrets, critical infrastructure, and so on. Agencies need a full security stack that can detect, identify, isolate, track, and solve—as well as conduct crisis management. They need best-in-class technology solutions that are all encompassing. That’s what Maximus provides with our people, proven business processes, and advanced technologies such as hybrid multi-cloud, artificial intelligence/machine learning, and cybersecurity.