Rising Star Robert Lech

Name: Robert Lech (pronounced “leach”)

Age: 39

Organization: Citizant

Title: Division director

Nominated for: Developing a grant-reporting system to help the Housing and Urban Development Department meet the requirements of the recovery act. Incorporated technology that the team had used to develop the National Housing Locator System, which simplifies the process for finding housing for people displaced by disasters.

First IT mentor: My first mentor in the IT business was -- and is -- Raymond Roberts, chief executive officer of Citizant. It’s no coincidence that I’m now working for the person who helped me learn the ropes of this business. We met when we worked together at Texas Instruments more than 15 years ago. We left TI around the same time -- I moved to California and started an IT consulting company, and Raymond started his own company here in Virginia called Everware. We talked frequently about our business challenges. I learned many things from Raymond in those days because he has an amazing ability to glean the secrets of successful companies and gather wisdom from business leaders. He helped me understand many of the ideas and values that now form the foundation of Citizant. When he called me a few years ago looking for a program manager for his government customers, I already knew he would make a great boss and that I could continue to learn from him.

Latest accomplishment: Our most recent assignment at the Housing and Urban Development Department is to help agency managers develop an information management and reporting system that complies with the requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Through a series of other successful engagements, we have earned the trust of HUD’s managers and have learned about the agency’s infrastructure, organization and processes -- everything we need to know to tackle this assignment. That is perhaps the most important and urgent challenge facing many federal agencies right now, especially at HUD. And it’s a thrill to be able to lead a team that is working night and day to create the right solution. I thrive in high-pressure situations in which failure is not an option.

Career highlight: Not to sound trite, but my current position at Citizant is the highlight of my career. I love every aspect of it. I get to interface with IT leaders at federal agencies and help them solve problems and manage systems that have a significant impact on the lives of taxpayers.

Favorite bookmark: Because of the National Housing Locator System we built for HUD, we have to monitor the national weather picture to anticipate whether we’ll need to kick into surge mode to help find housing for people displaced by natural disasters such as fires, hurricanes and floods. So my new favorite Web site is Weather.com.

Dream non-IT-related job: If money were no object, I’d make as much -- or as little -- money as I could by catching really big fish hundreds of miles offshore. I don’t want the big trawler nets, though. I’d want to catch them the fun way, one at a time with a big fishing rod.

The annual Rising Star awards are presented by the 1105 Government Information Group, publisher of Federal Computer Week, GCN and Washington Technology,  to public and private sector employees in the federal IT community who have gone above and beyond their job descriptions to make a lasting impact in their organization.  See all the 2009 Rising Star award winners.

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