Chief Officer Award Finalist Steve Orrin: ‘Push The Envelope And Break Some Glass’

Steve Orrin

Steve Orrin, Intel

The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Chief Officer Awards were announced April 15, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually May 27.

Next is Chief Technology Officer Award finalist Steve Orrin, who’s the federal chief technology officer at Intel Corp. Here, he talks professional achievements, proud career moments, shaping the next generation of industry leaders and more.

What key achievements did you have in 2019/2020?

Over the last year, I’ve worked on a variety of interesting projects, including helping a major government agency leverage the latest hardware, BIOS and software specs to secure its telework platform. This was a critical project during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as the agency needed to quickly roll out secure telework capabilities to more than 10,000 employees. I was able to quickly assemble a panel of experts from Intel, government and other vendors to help this agency achieve its goal.

I also worked with my military customers — both technical and procurement professionals — to better understand how artificial intelligence and advanced sensing can be leveraged for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. We worked on an architecture that enables inference and analysis at the edge while utilizing the cloud and the data center to analyze results and trends at scale.

For instance, this architecture could be used to enable change detection via computer vision at the edge, a complex AI process, while the data center continues to centralize the collection and analysis of the data and inferences across hundreds or thousands of sensors over long periods of time.

What has made you successful in your current role?

One of my most important functions is to work directly with government as a proactive partner and strategist to help agencies solve some of their biggest technological challenges. I also help them understand Intel’s architecture and how it fits into their mission space. Conversely, I serve as the voice of the customer back into Intel to describe and translate government requirements into our technologies.

Over the years, I’ve also developed a reputation as a convener between different organizations within the public sector technology ecosystem. Intel is a partner-centric organization, and I work to make sure that the right players are together around the table at the right time.

What are your primary focus areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?

Currently, I’m working closely with the government on a secure supply chain initiative. This work focuses on everything from availability to trust and transparency across the supply chain. I’m helping the government and members of its partner ecosystem gain better visibility into software and hardware supply chains to strengthen supply chain assurance.

I’m also working closely with the military to ensure system readiness by securing a variety of advanced systems, including sensors, vehicles, planes, naval platforms and unmanned systems. Together, we’re studying the development workflow environment and leveraging hardware-based security capabilities to protect the integrity and secure run time of code during the entire development lifecycle.

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

I really enjoy providing guidance and sharing best practices about future and current cybersecurity risks and how technologies can be applied in coordination to address those risks. The cybersecurity ecosystem is incredibly complex, and unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet when it comes to risk mitigation. It takes people, processes and technologies working in concert to solve cybersecurity challenges.

I would encourage my government customers to take a holistic view of the mission space and consider how the right technologies, policies and training can work together.

Looking back at your career, what are you most proud of?

I’ve been lucky to be part of some very interesting initiatives. I helped to start the web application security market back in the early 2000s, which encouraged enterprises to think about security earlier in the development lifecycle. Now, everyone is talking about shifting security to the left, but 20 years ago, this was a brand-new concept.

I had the opportunity to work with NIST and the Intel ecosystem to launch trusted cloud back when cloud was still a nascent concept. We created a reference architecture and identified an initial customer to establish trust in virtual cloud environments. Now, there’s a whole ecosystem that has spun up around trusted cloud.

Currently, I’m working with my customers on ground-breaking research to solve some very challenging problems and working to foster innovation and a pathfinding spirit within government. It’s incredibly gratifying.

What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?

Continuously learn new things and surround yourself with people smarter than you are. Also, take ownership of things and go do them. Don’t wait for permission all the time. Sometimes, it’s important to push the envelope and break some glass.

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