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 Cloud Industry Executive of the Year, (Private Company) finalist Joseph Flynn, who’s principal technologist in the office of the CTO at Boomi. Here, he talks key achievements, primary focus areas going forward, learning from failures and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2021/2022?
One key achievement that stands out to me the most was being able to expand our FedRAMP authorization to include Boomi Flow, incorporating all facets of the Boomi platform. Another key achievement was expanding our footprint in one of the largest defense/aerospace companies and bringing on a new federal customer.
We are now able to deliver the benefits of integration Platform-as-a-Service ⏤ like increased productivity, improved customer experience and cost efficiency ⏤ to more federal agencies and parts of the defense community.
What has made you successful in your current role?
Taking the time to build an understanding of business and policy issues impacting federal agencies ⏤ this has made me successful in my role because that understanding allows me to deliver the solutions agencies need to meet their missions.
I can also attribute success to always advocating for the industry through our product roadmaps and ensuring we, as a company, were always focused on security, control and risk mitigation. I made it a point to work closely with our sales teams to educate and offer my support because when one person or team succeeds, we all succeed.
What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
The most significant turning point in my career was when I became CIO for a Defense Department research laboratory. In this role, I learned a lot about the importance of security and risk as it relates to national defense ⏤ knowledge that has served me well across all government activities.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
Every day we get to see the positive impact we have on our customers when we solve some of their most complex technology modernization problems, like integration with necessary legacy tech. Solving these tech problems allows our customers to focus on mission success and utilize their resources and talent to their fullest capacity.
The fact that I have a hand in building an organization from scratch also fills me with pride. At Boomi, I have led incredible teams and worked with intelligent, engaging employees dedicated to supporting our customers.
What are your primary focus areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
I am focused on the key challenges that all government technology is dealing with ⏤ skills shortage, distributed data and applications that do not work together, and modernizing while having to rely on very old and large legacy systems. I’m happy to be a part of an organization like Boomi, which helps government agencies tackle these challenges by providing low-code iPaaS solutions. When groups use Boomi, they can help improve their FITARA scorecard performance and do so in a low-cost, low-code manner.
How do you help shape the next generation of government leaders/industry leaders?
Institutional knowledge is a critical element in government that is being lost as people leave the public sector. It is difficult to bring new eyes into such a complex legacy environment. Leaders need to figure out how to embrace the clarion call to modernize their IT portfolios while recognizing the importance of legacy systems and the risk of trying to modernize before it is feasible.
Boomi helps simplify the modernization process while allowing the legacy systems to co-exist and enabling agencies to continue delivering on their missions.
What’s one key thing you learned from a failure you had?
Everyone has experienced failure at one point or another; however, I’ve learned that we should fail knowing we had the authentic intention to do the right thing. That way, when you do fail, you can hold your head high, learn from the situation and move on.
Which rules do you think you should break more as a government/industry leader?
Government is very risk-averse, impacting every facet of modernization and affecting how government delivers its mission. Leaders need to be willing to look at the status quo and push the envelope forward. This does not mean you shouldn’t be thoughtful; leaders need to embrace innovation and challenge their colleagues to do the same because great things can happen when a collective group pushes forward.
What’s the biggest professional risk you’ve ever taken?
The biggest professional risk I’ve ever taken was when I left my very successful consulting company to take the role of CIO in a research laboratory. Moving from owning my own business to working in government research was a big shift, as I was moving into a new area of expertise where I did not have a deep background. I had to learn on the fly and surround myself with very talented and dedicated people that helped me make the transition.
Looking back at your career, what are you most proud of?
Looking back, I am most proud of being a part of the team that created the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, the first LEED platinum research computing center and a flagship asset of five universities, including Harvard and MIT.
What was your biggest career struggle and how did you overcome it?
I struggled with my ability to take necessary career risks. For example, when I was working for a culturally and economically unhealthy company, I had to make the tough decision of leaving without having a new job in hand. The decision was super hard, but ultimately, I knew leaving would positively impact my children’s lives. Through my hard work and willingness to take this risk, I found my next role that challenged me for the next 10 years and set me up for the last 30 years of my career.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Read voraciously. There is so much change that is happening at such a fast pace. If you cannot continuously renew your knowledge and reflect on how these changes impact your understanding of the world and how you fit in it, it will be difficult to build a strong foundation for your career and your life.