Kristie Grinnell


GDIT's Kristie Grinnell on the need for skills beyond IT

It goes without saying that new technologies and ways to implement and use them have changed rapidly, which inevitably leads industry to questions on talent and what skills they need in an evolving environment.

But some skills will endure regardless of what new creations come up, according to the chief information officer for General Dynamics’ IT services segment. And those skills are in both the pure-play technical variety and how to apply that in a business context even with advances in automation and other robotic tools, GDIT CIO Kristie Grinnell said.

“Don’t say ‘I’m in IT’ but think about the skills you have,” Grinnell told WT Sept. 14 in an interview at a GDIT-hosted “Women + Technology” event.

During a sideline conversation with me at that event, Grinnell described her engineering background that requires logical thinking, analytical breakdowns and problem solving. That is not specifically in IT, but she says skillsets under the engineering umbrella are the type that industry should look for as technology becomes more immersive.

“We’re going to have to break that down for people to look at data and what to do with all this artificial intelligence and machine learning that we’re getting,” Grinnell said.

That question should lead industry to find people “who can dissect data, help to make decision trees from that data, who understands statistics to look at that data to see if it’s meaningful,” she said. “Those are the types of skills that we need to come together to help us get to the next level of technology.”

It is not lost on industry executives and market observers that the question of talent looms large and the competition for workers is only rising. It is also not for lack of trying, as companies have increased their outreach into the high school and college students to pique their interest in technology-bent careers.

Part of that search also includes making sure there is an understanding that the aperture for IT careers is wide. As Grinnell pointed out, her team at GDIT also includes financial analysts, organizational change and communications professionals, plus business analysts.

There certainly has to be an understanding of IT basics and ways it applies in a business given its all-encompassing nature though, Grinnell said.

“As we move forward, technology is everywhere in your business. You use technology to recruit, you use technology to communicate, you use technology for your financials,” she said. “Technology’s just a part of the way we do business, so it’s important that everyone have sort of an understanding about technology.”

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also connect with him on LinkedIn.

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