The Washington Post

Behind the career: Ann Speyer

Ann T. Speyer

Position: The new president and chief strategy officer of A+ Government Solutions, an information technology consulting company based in Alexandria.

It was the advice of a college professor that turned this math major to the world of information technology. Since then, she has held notable IT executive positions at large consulting companies, federal contractors and the government. She eventually joined two former colleagues who started a consulting firm that she will now help lead as its president.

What is one of your proudest IT projects?

I was the chief information officer at Smithsonian. Having grown up in a small town, I had never been to the Smithsonian until I moved to the District as an adult. I never realized how vast its research activities and scientific contributions were. I knew there were many kids in small towns across America who would never get the chance to visit the Smithsonian in person, but with the Internet and new technologies, I realized I was in a unique position to help bring the nation’s collections and research to children and families all over America and the world.

The Smithsonian has 137 million items in its collection and less than 1 percent of those are on display to the public at any given time. I created a central digitization office that developed a cohesive comprehensive strategy for digitization across the museums. Now you can go on the computer and see one of the vases, for example, in 3-D. They’ve never had that before.

What was your greatest contribution to the effort?

Initially it was getting everyone from across the institution together to talk about digitization and share best practices across museums. Often I described my role more as an information broker because many times what one museum just finished, another museum was trying to accomplish. I helped different departments see what each was doing.

What were some leadership lessons in that role?

Collaboration. Teamwork. Pulling all the right individuals together to tackle these challenges.

What is the difference between a career and a calling?

As I get older, I realize its important to make sure you’re making a difference for your family, community, country and the world. Anytime you find your passion in life you have to go with it. My passion is feeling that I can make a difference through the use of technology in areas that make an impact personally.

— Interview with Vanessa Small

Vanessa Small covers philanthropy and nonprofits for Capital Business. She also spotlights newly appointed executives in the New at the Top column, which chronicles their journeys to the top. Small was raised in Orange County, Ca. and graduated from Howard University.
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