Building a Network Through Leadership
A Foundation in Technology
Ryan Draughn was a network administrator for Lee County when he enrolled in the inaugural Chief Information Officer (CIO) program at the School of Government in 2005. Draughn already had an extensive background in technology, with experience as a systems analyst, network engineer, and network administrator. However, he wanted to use his technical expertise in a management position, to be, as he puts it, “a strategic thinker and leader.” The 10-month CIO program was designed for that purpose—to teach business acumen and leadership skills to technology professionals.
An almost immediate result of Draughn’s CIO training was his advancement to IT director for Lee County. “When that position opened up,” he says, “the extra skills I had acquired at the School of Government set me apart from other applicants.”
A Shift in Perspective
Draughn says a more global result was a shift in his understanding about the role of information technology within governments and the communities they serve. “The most fundamental concept I took away from the CIO school was the value of communicating to elected officials based on their needs and perspective, rather than strictly from an IT viewpoint.”
“Attending the CIO School also broadened my focus beyond the needs of our internal departments to include the needs of our citizens,” Draughn says. That focus led him to introduce new IT initiatives to the county, including public access Wi-Fi in downtown Sanford, conducting auctions of surplus equipment on eBay, and making county meetings available to the public on Google Video.
“As I was transitioning from a technician to a manager,” says Draughn, “the CIO program gave me the tools and a framework to know what I needed to work on. It was the catalyst that helped me achieve early success in management.”
A Broader View
In July 2008 Draughn was named chief information officer for the NC League of Municipalities. Now his thinking about IT has broadened again as he works with technology professionals in 542 towns and cities of every size across the state. “In this position,” says Draughn, “I help the League’s member municipalities set IT goals and develop strategies to achieve them. I keep members apprised of larger technology trends, what’s happening at the state level related to technology, and what other municipalities might be doing.”
Draughn is the League’s staff liaison with various government departments and organizations that will manage federal stimulus funds related to broadband technologies. “As we are learning the specific federal requirements,” he says, “we are trying to assist our members directly or connect them with the right support.”
During his first year at the League, Draughn managed several projects designed to improve internal efficiency. “In this current economy,” says Draughn, “my focus has been on improving areas that will most benefit our membership.” His next project is a new membership management database that will allow for targeted communications with League members about information based on specific needs or interests; and also be used for event planning, online registration, conference management, and statewide or grassroots advocacy efforts.
Draughn has consistently worked to increase his knowledge and skills, but he credits the CIO school with providing the footing he needed to launch a career in management. “Because of the School of Government,” he says, “I have been able to take the important steps in my career that have led to this rewarding position at the League of Municipalities.”
Find out more about the CIO program and other training opportunities, conferences, research,and other resources at the Center for Public Technology at the School of Government.