Meet the Pinnacle Awards Finalists: 8 Questions for USDA’s Gary Washington

Gary Washington, USDA

Gary Washington is the chief information officer of the Agriculture Department and a Pinnacle Awards finalist in the Government TEAM Project of the Year category. Here, he shares what he learned from leading team projects, what he’s most proud of these projects achieving, collaboration and teamworking traits he finds most necessary, the biggest struggle associated with team projects and more.

What key achievements did you have in 2018?

Implementing the Centers of Excellence, improving cybersecurity and implementing modernization efforts USDA-wide.

What’s one key thing you learned from this project?

Participative leadership and communication are important.

What specifically makes this team project stand out from your government counterparts?

These projects have provided obvious business value to our employees and our customers.

Looking back at this project and achievement, what are you most proud of?

I am most proud of delivering functionality to the farmers for various programs.

How do you help shape the next-generation of government leaders?

Through programs such as [Candidate Development Program] programs and re-skilling programs. Teaching that it’s OK to take risks, and be honest and transparent with your leadership, stakeholders and customers. It’s also OK to say no.

What are one or two collaboration and teamworking traits you find necessary to complete such a project in government?

You have to be collaborative with your customers. Ensure you always talk about the business value of what you’re doing. Be transparent and honest.

What was your biggest struggle associated with this project, and how did you overcome it?

Dealing with culture. You have to be patient. You always have to show people where they are in the process and be inclusive.

What’s your best advice for aspiring govies who want to follow in your footsteps?

Don’t be afraid. Be honest and transparent. Be confident.

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