2016 Rising Star Awards
IT Specialist, U.S. Agency for International Development
- By Aisha Chowdhry
- Nov 11, 2016
Technology has become an essential component in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s mission to end extreme poverty and promote resilient, democratic societies. Caitlin Gaffney plays a critical role in that effort by supporting new technology requirements from the headquarters, bureaus, offices and 80-plus USAID missions in countries around the world.
She uses a variety of strategies to manage the demands on the organization, and her proactive approach has reduced the number of requests from the CIO’s office and streamlined communications with the mission IT staff, which had been unwieldy and inconsistent.
Her managers say her leadership has dramatically improved the customer experience for those who work with the CIO’s office. Despite only a few years in the federal workforce, she is well known to nearly every member of the 500-person office because of how integral her support has become.
As the world changes, USAID’s international offices often need to adapt. This presents the challenge of shutting down a network, retrieving the hardware and then setting up in a new location. Gaffney took it upon herself to spearhead an effort to identify all those activities, create a checklist and get commitment from the appropriate officials to own their share of the activities.
She created a working group, set goals and established a new process with little to no oversight or instruction from her superiors. Her colleagues say they don’t hear about mission moves anymore — not because they aren’t occurring but because of the streamlined process Gaffney implemented.
Gaffney left a high-paid management consulting position to work at USAID because she believes in the agency’s mission. Her proactive, problem-solving nature and ability to get teams to work together have her colleagues convinced that she is on a path to executive leadership at a young age.
Aisha Chowdhry is a former staff writer for FCW.