The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 11, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place live, in-person Nov. 30.
Next is Healthcare Government Executive of the Year finalist Aaron Drew, who’s senior enterprise solutions architect in the Office of Information & Technology for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Here, he talks career inflection points, primary focus areas going forward, proud career moments and more.
What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
A turning point in my career would have to be the day I received a phone call from Howard Seamans asking me to join the workforce of a newly created defense agency called the Defense Business Transformation Agency in spring of 2007.
Prior to that phone call, I had spent 10 years at the Defense Information Systems Agency as a software engineer. When I joined the Defense Business Transformation Agency, I took on the position of senior enterprise solutions architect.
I advised both retired Major General Carlos “Butch” Pair in his role as the Defense Business Systems Acquisition Executive and Dennis Wisnosky, in his role as the chief architect and chief technical officer of the Department of Defense Business Mission Area (within the Office of Deputy Chief Management Officer).
During my four years with the BTA, I learned so much about scoping, designing, testing, deploying and managing enterprise information systems.
I have spent the last 11 years at the Department of Veterans Affairs building upon and leveraging what I learned from Maj. Gen. Carlos “Butch” Pair and Dennis Wisnosky. Such memorable endeavors include serving as the VA chief engineer for the DOD/VA Integrated Electronic Health Record Inter-Agency Program Office; the VistA Evolution Program; the Financial Management & Business Transformation Program; and currently the Supply Chain Management Modernization Program.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
I am most proud of my technical advisement to the Reduce Veterans Homelessness initiative, under the Honorable Robert A. McDonald, former secretary of the VA. My team reached out to the commercial marketplace to identify an innovative platform by which homeless center case managers, field workers, etc. would be able to send and receive encrypted emails from the VA by way of their .com or .org email accounts.
The adoption of this innovative messaging platform allowed PII data to be securely sent to a VA Employee without our network filters blocking the transmission and reception of emails containing a social security number.
The adoption of this innovation has made it easier for the VA to work with the broader community who aims to identify and provide support for our nation’s homeless veterans.
What are your primary focus areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
My primary focus going forward is providing the best systems engineering and solution architecture leadership with respect to the VA’s efforts to modernize its supply chain and logistics operations. The desired outcome of this modernization would be a paradigm shift in how veterans and their families view the services (and the means for which those services are provided) in a much more favorable light.
When a Veteran tells you that they and their family members prefer visiting a VA Medical Center for their world class medical care, compared to all available options, then all the hard work vested right now and in the future would have been worth it.