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Industry Insider One-on-One: State Military Tech Leader on Infrastructure Build

Image of Jared W. Snow, CIO of the California Military Department, to the right of a quote that reads “I believe the role has changed from the ‘senior technical support’ person, responsible for fixing everything that requires electricity, to a business and strategic partner. More leaders are realizing that technology ... is a strategic initiative in and of itself.”
This story is limited to Industry Insider — California members.
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As part of Industry Insider — California’s ongoing efforts to educate readers on state agencies, their IT plans and initiatives, here’s the latest in our periodic series of interviews with departmental IT leaders.

Jared W. Snow is chief information officer for the California Military Department, a role he has had since November 2020. He was previously director and facilitator at VIP ManAlive in Rocklin for nearly five years, and before that was an adjunct faculty member at Doane University. He is a 20-year member of the Army National Guard and is currently a company commander.

Snow has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management with an emphasis on project management from Ashford University, an MBA in project management and leadership from Liberty University, and is earning his Doctor of Business Administration in leadership and management at George Fox University. His professional licenses and certifications include a High Performance Leadership Certificate and an Executive Leadership Certificate, both from Cornell University; he is also a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.

Industry Insider — California: As CIO of your organization, how do you describe your role? How have the role and responsibilities of the CIO changed in recent years?

Snow: I describe my role as the champion for my team and all state employees within the CMD. To provide context, the CMD is unique in that we have a mix of personnel — we comprise mostly federal personnel (about 15,000), along with nearly 1,200 state personnel such as myself. With that, my role is further described as one that provides motivation and inspiration, guidance and direction, and task and purpose. I provide high-level guidance to my staff, articulating the impact of their efforts on the organization, the team, themselves, and other individuals and stakeholders. My intent is to show their value to all involved, enable them to make decisions at their respective level, and motivate them to do and be more. From there, they run the show. I am privileged to work with such a motivated and dedicated team. I believe the role has changed from the “senior technical support” person, responsible for fixing everything that requires electricity, to a business and strategic partner. More leaders are realizing that technology may be leveraged to meet strategic initiatives, and it is a strategic initiative in and of itself. Technology leaders have different perspectives from that of human resources, comptroller, operations, etc. Organizational leaders that leverage all of their key staff are gaining new insights that would otherwise be lost — and this is changing for the better.

Industry Insider — California: Does your organization have a strategic plan, and may we hyperlink to it? How big a role do you personally play in writing that strategic plan?

Snow: Our department-wide strategic plan is currently being updated by the J5 (a military abbreviation for the Joint Chiefs of Staff office responsible for the development of Strategy, Plans, and Policy). I work directly with the J5 providing input and recommendations in the development of the strategic plan. Additionally, I work closely with the CMD’s JDEC — Joint Diversity Executive Council — on the development of improved diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. We are currently rewriting the JDEC strategic plan. The current version may be found here. Additionally, I have written the CMD IT-centric strategic plan, which nests with CDT’s (California Department of Technology) Vision 2023 as well as the CMD strategic plan.

Industry Insider — California: How often do you update your organization’s enterprise catalog?

Snow: We continuously update our service catalog based on the demands of our department, technologies implemented, policy changes (external and internal), and the ability to make improvements to the customer experience such as reduce service-level agreements (SLAs).

Industry Insider — California: What big initiatives or projects are coming up? What sorts of developing opportunities and RFPs should we be watching for in the next six to 12 months?

Snow: Given the dynamic of the CMD, we are still building our state network infrastructure. Our current projects include building our infrastructure at four strategic locations throughout California, smaller locations based on employee density, and rolling out our instance of ServiceNow to better support our stakeholders.

Industry Insider — California: How do you define “digital transformation?” How far along is your organization in that process, and how will you know when it’s finished?

Snow: I define digital transformation as the transition from antiquated manual processes to digital processes and automation. The purpose should NOT be to reduce personnel but to improve processes, become more efficient, and provide improved services to all stakeholders. We are making progress in this area. Showing people how digitizing processes enables them to do more for themselves and their organizations (offices, teams, etc.) is a challenge as many resist the change — change is hard. Once they realize the benefits, they tend to embrace them.

Industry Insider — California: What is your estimated IT budget and how many employees do you have? What is the overall budget?

Snow: We have a budget of just under $10 million with 39 personnel on our team. We are still growing — so monitor CalJOBS!

Industry Insider — California: How do you prefer to be contacted by vendors, including via social media such as LinkedIn? How might vendors best educate themselves before meeting with you?

Snow: Individuals may contact me through LinkedIn. I ask that if I do not respond right away, allow me the opportunity to review the request and information, and I will follow up. I suggest that vendors pay attention to my interests as well as understand the CMD’s mission.

Industry Insider — California: In your tenure in this position, which project or achievement are you most proud of?

Snow: I am the proudest of the two BCPs (budget change proposals) that I have co-written, resulting in the approval of 20 positions and increased funding for technology upgrades and additions, resulting in improved support to the CMD.

Industry Insider — California: If you could change one thing about IT procurement, what would it be?

Snow: Reduce the administrative requirements and create more flexibility while maintaining essential safeguards. Technology changes faster than statewide policy and regulations. I have found that what was once easily procured is now a challenge based on the way manufacturers and providers license their products.

Industry Insider — California: What do you read to stay abreast of developments in the gov tech/SLED sector?

Snow: I am subscribed to a handful of newsletters including GovTech* and Industry Insider. I also subscribe to Cal-CSIC’s (California Cyber Security Integration Center) reports and follow LinkedIn closely. It is important to be open to various channels and not stick with one side of the story (whatever that story is). Be open, listen to both sides, assess what was said/heard, then make a decision. I apply this mentality to every situation I come across, to include the news.

Industry Insider — California: What are your hobbies and what do you enjoy reading?

Snow: I enjoy being outdoors — hiking, walking, tinkering in my yard. I spend a lot of time researching, reading and writing. I enjoy reading scholarly articles and books on leadership, interpersonal communication, mentorship, etc. I also enjoy spending time with my children just being silly with them — I am a grown-up kid!

*Government Technology magazine is a publication of e.Republic, which also produces Industry Insider — California.

Editor’s note: This interview has been lightly edited for style and brevity.