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Pam Isom, US DOE OCIO

Mrs. Pamela K. Isom directs digital strategy and implementation of innovative, safe, and mission-focused products and integration services, enabling DOE to fulfill its enterprise business and IT objectives.  As the Deputy Chief Information Officer (DCIO) for Architecture, Engineering, Technology, and Innovation (AET&I) and Chief Data Officer (CDO) for the US Department of Energy (DOE), she serves as an advisor to and partner with senior executive officials and staff to achieve effective outcomes. Mrs. Isom brings over 25 years of digital transformation, information management, and IT modernization expertise to the agency. Leveraging her strong track record of collaboration, leadership, foresight, and blending business with IT, Mrs. Isom is advancing OCIO’s shift toward a posture of operating as an IT service broker while maintaining exemplary cybersecurity and data stewardship.

What inspired you to work in STEM?

As a young girl, growing up in Oklahoma, I was quite the curious one. I was inspired to study math, science and music, during a time when girls weren’t particularly encouraged to focus on either. My mom remains my role model. She encouraged and taught me to believe in myself and to value others.  I took computer programming during my undergraduate years and enjoyed it immensely. So much so that computer science is my career. I love coaching and mentoring in this area.  I am inspired by my husband. He is my courageous best friend and sounding board. My daughter is an outstanding STEM professional and leader – she is encouraging.

What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?

As leaders and pioneers of emerging technology, it is an exciting time for innovation and digital transformation at DOE. Currently, my team is focused on enhancing customer experiences, increasing security, mitigating risks and applying data driven decision making.  We not only have an opportunity to advance technology—we are standing at the forefront of a significant cultural shift, as we transition to IT Service Brokers. Helping our workforce understand how they contribute to, and enable our mission, is a significant part of that shift. As the Chief Data Officer (CDO), I am particularly excited about Artificial Intelligence Governance, complex analytics solutions, and our continued emphasis of the importance of building evidence-based decision models that align mission value and outcomes.

How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?

One important way of engaging more women, particularly young girls, is to highlight more women and women of color who are working in STEM. It helps to see other people that look like you, and offers a broader perspective of what’s possible. Be inclusive and invite others to join in the conversation and really listen. In college, I remember being the only African American woman in computer classes and, early in my career, the only one in many job assignments. I once asked a manager of an all-male computer programming team how she felt about being the minority. She expressed that she doesn’t dwell on it, that she focuses on the job at hand. That stuck with me. I decided that my circumstances were attributes of a trailblazer.

Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

Be yourself. Don’t try to imitate others – your realness is what shines. Get a good mentor and keep them. Own being a trailblazer … Purpose is important. Your purpose in life will open doors. When that happens, be ready and cross the threshold. Go Forward. Keep the faith. Walk right on through the door. Obstacles may get in the way but they don’t have to block your way. Stay focused on your purpose.

When you have free time, what are your hobbies?

During my free time, I focus mainly on getting regular exercise, healthy eating and spending time with my family and friends.  I love to sing and I love Denver!  I try to stay active as an alumni of Walden University, and as a member of IEEE, The Society of Women Engineers (SWE), ISACA, local gardening committee and numerous other professional organizations.