In this Govie Spotlight series, WashingtonExec will highlight government folks leading transformational change and innovation. Get to know a bit about their background, drive and advice for aspiring leaders.
Featured: Dr. Lisa Costa, chief technology and innovation officer for the U.S. Space Force.
How did you get your start in government?
I was 18 and had to work full-time to pay for college. There was a junior programmer position open at a government contractor organization. Because of my math and programming skills, and because I had worked third shift at Harris Corp. in their Corporate Computer Center, I got the job, and the rest is history.
What is the most rewarding part of working in government?
The people and the mission. The people are dedicated, focused, selfless and wicked smart. We have an embarrassing treasure of talent that is an honor everyday to work with and lead. The missions are critical: Countering terrorism; providing missile warning; supplying continuous accurate position, navigation and timing to global assets. You will never work on harder or more fulfilling efforts.
What is something you wish you knew when you were rising in your career?
I’m an “end results” person and that has resulted in a marathon of sprints over my career. I wish I had spent more time taking in the experiences and people I was exposed to and worked with.
What advice would you share with the next generation looking to join the government or help make a positive, transformational change?
Don’t seek to only work with people “like you.” Cognitive diversity and multidisciplinary teams provide greater results than a group with the same background. Look for creative and different thinkers; sometimes the best tool in your toolbox is the enlisted soldier on a team of Ph.D.s or the youngest or oldest person on the team.