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New Department Tech Leader Eager to Work With New Team, Industry

“I’ve heard great things about the teams that I’ll be leading, and I look forward to working together on key projects and helping them grow to meet their personal and professional goals,” he told Industry Insider — California.

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The California Department of Social Services has a new technology officer (CTO) — one with a deep background in gov tech as well as experience in the private sector.

Michael Wanser had been with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation for almost 15 years before moving to his new role, where he’ll work with CIO Chad Crowe. This is a new tech leadership team for the department, with Crowe having moved into the CIO role in July.
Michael Wanser.
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“I’m excited to work with an award-winning IT leadership team to support CDSS’ amazing mission that helps the state’s most vulnerable residents,” Wanser told Industry Insider California via email. “I’ve heard great things about the teams that I’ll be leading, and I look forward to working together on key projects and helping them grow to meet their personal and professional goals.”

Wanser said he’s eager to work with industry partners.

“I’m excited to explore CDSS’ existing vendor relationships, and I’m happy to partner with vendors to achieve CDSS’ very important business goals,” he said. “I’ve built some trusted partnerships with vendors while at DPR, and I am always open to establish new ones. I also look forward to incorporating valuable training opportunities into contracts to help provide my teams opportunities to grow, thrive, and innovate using new technology.”

Asked to define his management style, Wanser said: “One of my key managers describes our current IT work culture as ‘Work Hard and Play Hard.’ I expect people to do their best, and I also recognize that we need appropriate work-life balance and fun, team-building activities. I encourage creativity and innovation from my diverse teams and promote integrity, mentoring, and ethical leadership with my managers. My team knows that I ‘lead from the front’ without micromanaging, I have their backs, and I expect them to challenge me when I am wrong. I take pride in establishing a culture of mentoring where every manager grows team members to be a successor.”

Wanser joined DPR in 2008 as an application developer, rising through the ranks as a supervisor, manager and CTO/branch chief before being named CIO and assistant director in 2018. Before DPR, he worked in the private sector as a software engineer.

“During my 15 years at DPR, I worked hard to break down silos within IT itself as well as expand our relationships with the program units,” Wanser said. “I am most proud of leading the establishment of an empowering, trust-centered culture within IT; and building productive, successful partnerships with DPR’s program units. From a project and operations perspective, we’ve accomplished a lot to be proud of, including a successful transition to full telework for all eligible staff and ongoing modernization projects for our pesticide registration process and assessment collection processes. We also excelled in meeting compliance activities for accessibility and information security.”

Wanser studied pre-medicine at Boston College before moving to California State University in Sacramento, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. He is a resident of the Sacramento area.
Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C. He lives in Northern California.