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A Clash of Cultures Is Increasingly Defining Cyberspace

December 4, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
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Differences are more than just generational as government and industry leaders try to recruit and keep an effective workforce.

The revolutionary nature of cyberspace pales in comparison to the dynamic differences that characterize its work force. Not only do younger workers have different professional goals than their progenitors, but also same-generation technology-savvy workers may have varying outlooks on how to innovate and exploit new capabilities.

A Wednesday panel at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, wrestled with the challenges facing leaders in cyber fields. Senior Master Sgt. Torry Hickson, USAF, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Pacific, stated that an organization dealing with cyber needs a mix of young and old people. This will combine leadership built of wisdom with an innovative spirit with technology knowledge.

Cindy E. Moran, director, network services, DISA, offered that young people today are not necessarily enticed by opportunity alone. “You may have to make it [the job] fun,” she suggested. “What motivated me to get where I am today is not necessarily what will motivate the leaders of tomorrow.”

Senior Master Sgt. Hickson called for creating “a culture of leadership; a culture of mentorship.” Leaders should talk to their people frequently to create a presence in their workday. It helps them feel a part of the organization, he offered.

The senior master sergeant related that, in the 1990s, the Air Force suffered a brain drain that adversely affected its information technology community for years. Recently, he allowed that he has lost “brilliant people who were practically savants.” Fortunately, his office has not lost capability, but that could change if losses pile up, especially amid budget uncertainties.

 

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