Amy and Alex sit down with NASCIO Corporate Leadership Counsel Chair and Vice Chair Stu Davis and Paul Baltzell to talk about their years as state CIOs in Ohio and Indiana and why they believe in being involved in NASCIO while on the corporate side. We also talked about what makes a good night out in Columbus and Indianapolis and what they wanted to be when they were kids.
You can see Stu's favorite NASCIO moment at the end of this awards video from Mississippi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsGLho539PI&list=PL6c5-pFa0fmZlUDS0HWjnUlBOKwiGWA3G&index=8
Episode 96 -- Stu Davis and Paul Baltzell
Mon, Jun 12, 2023 1:37PM • 25:27
Stu Davis, Paul Baltzell, Alex Whitaker, Amy Glasscock
Amy Glasscock 00:05
Hi, and welcome to NASCIO voices where we talk all things state IT. I'm Amy Glasscock in Lexington, Kentucky.
Alex Whitaker 00:11
And I'm Alex Whitaker in Washington, DC. Today we're talking with our corporate leadership council chair and vice chair Stu Davis of CGI, and Paul Baltzell of Salesforce.
Amy Glasscock 00:20
As former state CIOs, Stu and Paul have been in the world of NASCIO for a long time. Today, we're chatting with them about lessons learned on the job and their insights on NASCIO membership on both the state and corporate side. Stu and Paul, welcome to NASCIO Voices, and thanks so much for joining us today.
Stu Davis 00:35
It's our pleasure.
Paul Baltzell 00:37
Great to be here.
Alex Whitaker 00:38
Yeah, thanks so much. So tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to your current role. So Stu, let's start with you. And then we'll go to Paul.
Stu Davis 00:45
Okay, it sounds sounds like a long journey. But way, way back, when I started in county government, I got involved in GIS, and I went to the private sector after that, consulting on it and GIS and came back to the state of Ohio, to coordinate GIS activities for the state at the time. And that just kind of grew from being the enterprise shared services administrator for the Department of Administrative Services, eventually into the assistant state chief operating officer. And then I was the state chief operating officer for about a year and a half, almost two. And then in late December of 2010, I was offered the state CIO role, which I did turn down at first, but that didn't really work out for me. You don't really say no to the governor. So I learned that the hard way. It's kind of a journey. I think, generally speaking, I think if you get everything done, that they assign you, and they assign more and more and more, and you still get it done, I think you end up being the state CIO.
Alex Whitaker 01:53
Got it. Paul, how about you.
Paul Baltzell 01:55
So I started my career in the US Navy. That's been so long ago, I think the boats were made of wood at that time. Then I left and came back. And I realized it was my path. And I love computers always had had been a geek since I was a kid and played around with them as much as you could. And, you know, growing up southern Indiana, we're pretty rural, and we didn't have access to a lot of things. In 2004, I came to the state as a consultant, do an email consolidations. So that kind of led me to do two years of that and get all the infrastructure consolidated. And when I did, I was asked if I wanted to come on as a state employee, and I really wasn't sure that was a good thing. My boss at the time was also a consultant. And he was coming on and he I was like, willing to do this for like, one or two years, right? Like, I can't see me as a long term state employee. And then, wow, many years later, seven years later, they're like, Hey, Paul, do you want to be the state CIO? And I'm like, is that a trick question? Because Are you sure this is the guy you want? Right? I actually had another job lined up as funny as that sounds administration's return over and I was like, Well, you know, I probably need to have an exit in case I don't, you know, I'm not wanting to new administration. And so maybe because I was so relaxed in my interview with the governor that it was, you know, quick and easy. So I spent three years estate CIO, it was fantastic. Because I had a great predecessor. I then had a great successor that many know, in Dewand, left state government for three years, went to a company that was a startup, I was the 100th employee. It was fantastic. Until three years later, when I shut the door, and I was the ninth guy left and we were all like, you know, unemployed, came back to state government and economic development, because I, you know, there's still a lot of people and had a great, great time kind of telling people about why they should put their data center in Indiana. I did that for about a year and a half. And then at the beginning of COVID, I filled back in because Dewand had left. And I said I'll do this temporarily, but I don't know that I want to be the guy who does it once, right. So send everybody home for COVID. And then I feel really bad up to this day. I handed everything over to Tracy Barnes who's another fantastic CIO. And Tracy kind of took it and ran with it is an amazing things since, and I went to Salesforce, right? I gotta say I was a little lost because I had been so long since I'd been on the other side of the fence. But I just celebrated three years last month. And I love it because it gets me the chance to be in the private sector, but stay involved with all the things I love about working with big government, especially the NASCIO organization. I missed going to those conferences. I missed the camaraderie I missed, helping people make the states better.
Amy Glasscock 04:48
And, Stu, what have you been doing since you left state government?
Stu Davis 04:51
Well, so I left state government in 2018 after 22 years in state government being the Chief Molotov cocktail thrower is pretty much what I thought. But I left I took about two months off and I went to a company called SenseCorp. It was based out of Austin that was very focused on data and data analytics. And it was sort of a really good fit. And about two years ago that SenseCorp was acquired by CGI, so I'm now on the CGI national strategy team for the public sector group.
Amy Glasscock 05:28
Great. Sounds good.
Alex Whitaker 05:29
Stu, you were not only Ohio CIO for several years, but you even served as NASCIO president, tell us about your tenure as CIO and why you felt compelled to serve as president of NASCIO?
Stu Davis 05:40
That's a great question. I'm going to start a little bit in a different direction there and kind of focus on the the back part of that. So that compelled to serve as state CIO. So they're kind of two different things, right. So I missed an executive committee meeting. And David Beanne at Michigan and John Ledgeford with Massachusetts, nominated me for Secretary Treasurer. And that was sort of the beginning to be quite honest. But I did mention, you know, GIS earlier, I, I, you know, was a big fan of the association approach. And I learned early that you get out of those association activities as much as you put in. And so that was a very large focus for me, I mean, to be a state CIO to have virtually, you know, coming in blind, and knowing that there were 49 Plus CIOs out there, that were wrestling with the same issues, really kind of bonded me to the the association that is NASCIO. And I was actually the president of the national states geographic information Council. I think that was back in 2005. So I had a very strong feel for associations and the reasons why those are so important. When when I was the president of NASCIO. I mean, it is, it is absolutely crazy. I don't think folks actually understand how busy people can be through that process when you're president. Just because especially the mid year, it's kind of, you're the main show, you're you're talking all the time, you get a very little downtime, every time that you come off the stage, there's five or 10 people that want to talk to you, and chase you down. But it is well worth it. It's well worth spending the time. And of course, I will always be a NASCIO president, which is kind of nice.
Alex Whitaker 07:31
For sure. And let that be a reminder to folks on the executive committee, don't miss the meetings, because you might just end up being NASCIO president, and it's not a bad thing.
Amy Glasscock 07:40
Paul, you also served as a CIO for the State of Indiana and served on NASCIO's Executive Committee during that time, what lessons did you learn in the state CIO role that you've taken with you to your current job.
Paul Baltzell 07:52
So I think the most important thing, I learned that everything in government takes a lot longer to do. And because of that, I can help the folks on the outside the private sector that's working with government understand how how to deal with the procurement, the timelines, what's realistic, how to also do things that help the customer, right? We don't just want to be there. When the sale goes on, we want to be there for the long term and be a partner and help them be successful. Because, you know, that kind of lifts all boats, it's good for it's good for the private sector. And it's good for the public sector, because the state's states are working to help their constituents in the businesses. So anything we can do to benefit them and make them better, is fantastic. And it also gives you us a feeling and I think I said this previously in one of the questions, camaraderie, right. Like my relationships with the CIOs and the deputies and the CTOs and the CISOs. I can't replace that. Right. Those guys are out there every day trying to do the right thing. I know, because I've been in that role. And they need help in doing what they're doing to make their states better. I mean, I think Sue would echo this. Everything I did when I was in state government was to make my state a better place. For my family, for my kids, for my friends, for everybody there.
Amy Glasscock 09:14
Yeah, that's great. I love that. And, Stu, love to hear why, in your view, it's important that your current company belong to NASCIO.
Stu Davis 09:24
Well, certainly, you know, I only would go to a company that would be striving to be a trusted partner with with government. As you know, Paul just astutely said, I mean, government is a very, very difficult area to get things done and to move through things. And so that was really kind of the whole focus was I just wouldn't work for one that's not going to be a trusted partner. And since core fan CGI, both have really brought that to bear and I wanted to kind of echo a little bit of what Paul was talking about. I mean, NASCIO is really the community is really a family that's based upon similar issues that everybody is of high complexity that everybody is dealing with on a regular basis. And, and it's a place where those ideas can be shared, without any any judgment with the partners and the members, and the CIOs. And I'm certainly among the CIOs as peers. And that really facilitates a high functioning high energy kind of environment. And of course, then you have the NASCIO staff that are just outstanding, and they help facilitate those discussions as well. But the interesting part to me and you kind of kind of touched on it here, Amy, that the whole community, as you leave the state CIOs role, and you move into a different sort of environment in the private sector, or wherever you would you tend to go, you still are bounded by those pressures and stresses that represented, you know, the business and IT of those respective states. So you're always a part of, which is a very cool thing to me on the, on the NASCIO community in that family sort of, sort of a society of state CIOs that, that never really goes away.
Amy Glasscock 11:16
It's great. Like, I definitely feel that it's kind of like a family too. And, you know, in my view for us NASCIO staff that have been around a long time, I feel like you are kind of like the uncles, you know, uncles of NASCIO, so I give different people different names.
Stu Davis 11:32
I've been called Uncle Stu on number of times.
Alex Whitaker 11:35
So, Paul, for companies that are currently NASCIO members, how do you recommend that they get the most value out of their membership?
Paul Baltzell 11:42
Well, I would have to say, I think, to me, the biggest value is to be there to build relationships, right? Understand that, by regularly meeting with these individuals, you build that relationship. So when they do have a challenge, they're gonna call you, right? They're gonna say, hey, what have you got for this? Don't use NASCIO as an opportunity to sell us NASCIO as an opportunity to have the relationship so that in the long term, they know, you're going to support them. Right. I think I think that's the most critical thing that members corporate members can take away from, from any kind of advice I could give. Just be there, be involved, right? Don't and that doesn't just mean go to the annual conference and, you know, talk to them. That means beyond the committee's, that means, you know, try and be involved in anything that's going on, right work with to give back. Anything you can do to kind of show your support, to help help NASCIO improve, because, you know, I hate to keep going back to it. It's it's an it's a family, right, Stu said family, I said camaraderie. It's, I can't express how much it means to me to be part of it. From whatever angle I can be the three years when I was in the startup world, I missed it. I'd get photos from the guys at the conferences and be like, Wow, I'm heartbroken. I wish I could be there. Right. We need to start doing something with government at the startup. I don't know what it is, but I need to do something. So I can be part of NASCIO. So I think just involvement the organization is the most important thing they can do.
Alex Whitaker 13:18
Sure, well, you know, I'm biased. But I am always struck by how friendly an atmosphere that NASCIO conferences, so it's always good to hear. So the current NASCIO presidential initiative this year from our president, Stephanie Dedmon, is about the digital citizen experience. So I'd love to ask you both about that through the lens of the private sector. In your view, how can the private sector help states improve their technology offerings in the digital citizen experience? Let's hear from Paul and then Stu we'll go to you?
Paul Baltzell 13:44
Well, I think probably the the most important thing you can do is try and hear what they envision it to be. Before you propose your solution. Right? It listen to what the government employees, what the state CIOs, what their governor is saying, do your research, and understand what they want to achieve. Because every state has a slightly different vision. Every governor has a slightly different vision. There are many ways you can help them. Listen to what they're saying, right? Don't just come in with your pitch of what the digital experience should look like. Here your customer, right, I think that's critical. And and I think sometimes that gets overlooked because they don't, you know, or the appropriate research isn't done, or, you know, you don't know your customer and what their priorities are because, you know, some folks have or some folks I say that some states have different focuses on varying things depending on problems they may uniquely have or or they have to a higher degree than other states or vice versa. So I think you really need to listen to the customer.
Alex Whitaker 14:54
Stu Davis 14:55
Yeah, and I would jump right in there. Alex if that's okay. Um, Sure, I agree 100%. I mean, if you're not hearing what the customer is telling you, it is, it's very difficult to figure out what it is you're supposed to bring. And when you start to talk about the digital citizen experience, you have to know who they are before you can actually impact that experience. So I think a lot of times the technology offerings in the in the private sector are not solely focused on identity access management, or that digital citizen experience. But it's part of a larger technology suite of things that they can bring. So it's trying to find the right niche, the right sounds, and the things that the CIOs are going to resonate with, after you hear what it is that they're trying to solve. Right. I mean, the digital citizen experiences that. Is it about all the different programs and creating it a different view as you come in to state government, in terms of these are other programs that you could possibly benefit from? Or is it more about a customized personal experience? That is, it's is hard to do? It's hard to do. So understanding what they're trying to do is, it was critical, as well as hearing hearing the customer.
Alex Whitaker 16:20
Amy Glasscock 16:20
Stu, would love to hear what your favorite NASCIO memory is?
Stu Davis 16:25
You know, this is, there's so many I mean, it's, it brings a tear to my eye to think about all the past CIOs that were there that I had a great relationship with. And I thought about this for a while, because there's so many, like I said, I mean, from sitting at the table and cajoling Calvin Rhodes to sit at the Ohio table, while he got an award that he didn't know he's was gonna get that was kind of fun. But maybe one of my most memorable was Mississippi coming to me and sort of doing the same thing. They had me Hey, can you sit at the Mississippi table? And they were getting it was award night, and they were getting an award for a chatbot that they had put out there. And it was, it's actually it's, it's, it's pretty funny, too. And I'm not gonna we're not gonna bust it out. Because I think if people can look at that, it's actually got a hilarious. Yeah, Craig goes, Craig goes around, and Mississippi, set me up pretty good. It was pretty good.
Amy Glasscock 17:29
I remember that. That was really funny. We'll just see if we can find that video and put a link in the show notes so people can see it. Yeah. Paul, what would love to hear what NASCIO event or publication you're most excited about in the coming year?
Paul Baltzell 17:45
Well, so I have to say it's what I affectionately call the Stu and Paul party, although now I think I need to call it the Uncle Stu and Uncle Paul party, maybe at the annual right, like we and Stu, I hope I don't put words in your mouth. But I I feel like we truly enjoy the chance to get together with everyone have a good time, and just build our friendships, right? Because we all work together. And I think I speak for both of us when I say we plan on being in this for the long run. Right? So we want to be here and we want to be part of NASCIO. Forever. I unfortunately didn't stick around long enough to become president like Stu, and I'm not sure they would have wanted me as a president. You know, so I've got a I've got to stay a corporate member so I can keep hanging out with all y'all. Anyway. So yeah, I always look forward to the annual and then, you know, the chance for us to have an event that we can really have a great time with, you know, not only the corporate members, but the government members as well.
Amy Glasscock 18:43
And Paul, when we told the staff at our meeting this morning that we were interviewing you guys, they insisted that we asked you about your Twitter handle. So we're asking you about your Twitter handle.
Paul Baltzell 18:56
Okay, well, that one wasn't in the list of questions gave me just clear. Well, I don't know what would you like me to say about my Twitter handle, I am @shortCIObigdata. For those who know my history. When I was the CIO in Indiana. My passion was data analytics and how we could change government and data. And poor Stu has heard this spiel a million million times. For me, we built the management performance hub, which is still now it's actually its own independent agency in Indiana and I ever since I was a young kid, my my dad always told me I would have the shortest kid in school and you know, all that and dad was like, you know, what, make the joke first before everybody else gets to it, right? So I've just always, I've always used that as my opening, right, my my vertical challenge that I live with. And so I thought it was kind of humorous because I was so focused on data and and you know, trying to make government better with it. So, yeah, so @shortCIOBigData and when most people you know, see that they especially if they know me and realize how tall I am they think that's that's pretty you and
Amy Glasscock 19:56
also like seriously the data set of things like what a The legacy that continues there in Indiana.
Alex Whitaker 20:03
Yeah, I also love the idea of make the joke before anyone else can. So I will remember that, Paul. So we also appreciate all the insight that you guys have shared with us today, from your time around NASCIO on both sides, both state and corporate. But now it's time for what everybody really comes for our segment where we ask you guys some fun questions about your life outside of work. It's called the lightning round. Are you ready?
Amy Glasscock 20:27
All right. Okay, let's go. So what makes for a great night out in your city, first, Stu then Paul.
Stu Davis 20:36
It always comes down to the company you're with and you got great company, you're going to have great discussions and you know, glasses of bourbon involved. You're going to have a great time in any city that you're in, in Columbus, are there a bunch of great steak places, or every bartender that I, I know, has a NASCIO pen, I would just throw those out to the bartenders I like. So if you're ever in a bar in Columbus, Ohio, and you see a bartender with a NASCIO pen, you know, he's a good bartender.
Paul Baltzell 21:10
Well, so it's actually I think, Stu, you know, that's a great example of a day to day, but we literally just had a weekend with the Indy 500. It's pretty tough to talk that right. So if any of the NASCIO members want to come, I am, I invite you to come Memorial Day weekend next year. And we'll figure out a great way to have a good time. Because that is Indiana's biggest event. If you come other outside of that, we have lots of great chances to have bourbon and enjoy yourself and plenty of fine steak houses. And as Stu said, it's all about the company you keep. So I don't think it matter if I was in the biggest dive bar on the planet if I was with people that I enjoy being with. It's all going to be good.
Alex Whitaker 21:53
Awesome. All right. And finally, what was your dream job as a kid?
Stu Davis 21:57
I'll take that one first. And because Paul's much better at doing all of this a little bit more energy. So I would you know, back in the seventh grade, I always wanted to be a marine biologist. For whatever reason, I don't know why. But that was kind of where I went. And I came down to Ohio State and was expecting to go that route. And I think I was a sophomore. And my mom had a friend whose son was diving for kelp. And wanted to be a marine biologist on the, you know, the coast of California. And I thought, you know, I'm not gonna be in a position to be a marine biologist in Columbus, Ohio, it's probably not the smartest move I made. So I kind of dropped back and punted, but that was really kind of what I wanted to do. And, you know, I like fish. I like fishing. I like you know, everything about it. And still has sort of little hold on my heart. But that was kind of what it was, was a marine biologist.
Alex Whitaker 22:58
Paul Baltzell 22:59
I wanted to be president of the United States. So I'm guessing it's probably I guess it's not too late. I mean, our current president's 80 I still guess I got a shot. But once I found out right like that, I probably would want to go become an attorney. And I was like, Yeah, that's a lot. That's a lot of that's a lot of work. I think I'm just gonna try and go do do a real job. So yeah, that's actually that was that was my big thing. When I was a kid. I would tell you though, now, if I could go back, I think I would want to write books and create like games like board games, like something, you know, something that I do that as a hobby. So I think I would, I would actually want to do my hobby as my job as strange as that seems. I know Stu I'm pretty geeky. Just just so people know. I go to the gaming convention here, the GenCon. I go to calm going to Comic Con this year. But I do not dress up. Let's Oh man. So that's a step too far for me. Yeah, I know. You guys. were picturing me as like a giant pokeymon or something like that. Yeah, I don't go that far.
Stu Davis 24:05
Paul Baltzell 24:06
a unicorn. Yeah.
Alex Whitaker 24:08
All right. Well, we are all out of time, sadly. But I want to thank you both again, for your time with us today and for your service to NASCIO this year. And throughout all the years. We really appreciate it.
Stu Davis 24:18
Thank you to NASCIO staff. And thank you to you, Alex and Amy for putting these podcasts on. They're great, great ways for members to understand and know more about what we do on our side as well as what they do on the state side. So thank you very much.
Paul Baltzell 24:35
And I I second that Amy and Alex, thank you for all your time and everything. NASCIO definitely.
Amy Glasscock 24:41
Thanks, guys. We'll see you soon. All right. Bye. Thanks again for listening to NASCIO voices. NASCIO voices is a production of the National Association of State chief information officers or NASCIO. You can learn email@example.com
Alex Whitaker 24:58
And if you have a moment to rhetoric View for this podcast on Apple podcasts it would mean so much to us a big thanks to listener Jr. for distributed highly recommend this podcast for any state IT leader. You will hear about top issues and priorities along with compelling and informative profiles on your fellow state IT leaders. Those keep things fun with the lightning round.
Amy Glasscock 25:16
Don't miss it. And if you don't want to miss an episode, be sure to subscribe. Talk to you next time