'A visionary with a blueprint'

Emory Miller has been around government for a while — 33 years to be exact.

But he still approaches his work with the enthusiasm of someone new to the


Such enthusiasm should come in handy. With information technology career

development and training taking center stage in today's tight labor market,

Miller is finding that his responsibilities are expanding.

As director for professional IT development at the General Services

Administration, Miller is responsible for developing programs to train the

government's IT leaders. When he joined GSA in 1996, he was in charge of

the Trail Boss seminar program. Since then he has launched the Strategic

and Tactical Advocates for Results (STAR) and CIO University programs and

revamped the Interagency Resources Management Conference. And he handles

all this with only a 10-person team.

But new ventures don't seem to intimidate Miller. A few years ago, at

the urging of his daughter, he launched a T-shirt company. He sold 25,000

shirts in one year and set up a World Wide Web site that accepted online

orders at a time when electronic commerce was just taking off. It was only

a short-term business, but Miller said he took from it some valuable lessons

about how to market and sell a product.

That wasn't Miller's first foray into entrepreneurship. Long before

launching his T-shirt company, Miller designed a children's game that consisted

of oversized city maps. They were designed so that no matter how the maps

were laid out on the floor, the roads always matched up. But Miller realized

that the heavy material used as backing would make the maps too expensive

to ship.

It seems natural that with all his entrepreneurial spirit, Miller would

have chosen a career in the private sector. But Miller said he remembers

making a conscious decision to enter government after graduating from the

University of Virginia in 1968. Soon after, he joined the Army as a programmer.

Miller says the work of government is a noble service. "I think of myself

as someone who is impacting government for the good of government and the

good of citizens," he said.

His career took him to the Department of Housing and Urban Development

as a customer services engineer, and before long an opportunity opened up

in IT acquisitions. "That launched a very intensive career for me," he said.

He left HUD after seven years and accepted a job at the Internal Revenue

Service procuring its mission-critical systems.

"I found out that I really enjoyed doing procurement and acquisitions,"

he said. "And I learned a tremendous amount [about] how to provide good

leadership, how to put a team together and how to lead them and how to deliver

products. I learned that providing good management means providing a balance

in views."

While at IRS, Miller became the first Trail Boss of a major acquisition

at the Treasury Department and was part of a seven-member team nicknamed

"the posse."

"I learned that the best contribution I can make as a leader is to create

that environment where I benefit from the talent, the diversity, the knowledge

of my team," he said. "Since that time, that's the way I manage everything."

He learned, he said, that no decision is black or white. "It's our objective

to make the best gray decision" as a team, he said.

"Emory definitely likes working as a team. He believes in sharing information

with people," said Terry Weaver, a program manager at GSA. "My own favorite

description of him is as a visionary with a blueprint."

When the GSA job opened up, Miller said it was a natural for him because

of his experience with the Trail Boss program. However, the job quickly

grew in scope. "Very quickly we realized that there was a lot going on in

the federal work force, and the CIO Council had established some competencies

that they said were those a CIO organization needed [in order] to be successful,"

he said. That's when Miller decided to launch CIO University, which he said

is attracting more and more federal CIOs. The STAR program followed last

year as a way to train senior managers in program and project management.

"To me there is great emphasis on making sure that we're developing

people and growing them in project management," he said. "And then providing

strategic leadership in that development leads an organization forward.

These to me are the two major thrusts of the work force."


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