Women Empowerment Teresa Carlson

Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services
Our Anniversary Special feature celebrates this iconic woman, who has carved a name for herself in the technology industry. In an exclusive interview with IG Editor-in-Chief Jasmine Bedi, Amazon’s Teresa Carlson, Vice President Worldwide Public Sector AWS shares her inspiring path and her visionary eye for the future.

Published in Issue 4 | July 31, 2020

AWS is the undisputed leader in cloud computing, but as you have reiterated, the cloud in public sector is still in its nascent stages. Do you think that governments are moving fast enough to modernize antiquated systems and digitize government and citizen services?
Many governments around the world are undergoing rapid transformation to gain efficiencies, more effectively meet the needs of their citizens, and innovate more rapidly. The organizations that are benefitting the most from digital transformation share a few common traits.

First, successful digital transformation starts with top-down, cloud-first strategies designed to provide guidance around procurement, implementation, security, and workforce skills development to foster faster cloud adoption.

Second, the senior government leaders share in their commitment to cultural change. That means that they are in alignment on the importance of encouraging their teams to think big about how technologies like cloud computing can serve their mission better, faster, more affordably, and more securely. It is why AWS builds tools with builders in mind—so that senior leaders can foster a culture of innovation and empower their teams to rapidly experiment and deliver results.

Third, successful organizations recognize that to transform their systems they often need to upskill their teams. Through training and certification programs like AWS Educate and AWS Academy, we train hundredsof-thousands of people a year on the use of cloud technologies, and work closely with government and commercial employers to make sure that our offerings match their technical requirements. For students, we offer stackable credentials so that each can choose a pathway to expertise. The combination of feedback-driven courseware and the opportunity for team members to train and upskill in a self-directed curriculum is critical to ensuring that an organization has the technical expertise needed to accelerate its mission.

Finally, the organizations that are really succeeding don’t wait until they figure out how to move every last workload. We often work with organizations to do a portfolio analysis to assess each application and build a plan for what to move short-term, medium-term, and last. This process helps organizations get the benefits of the cloud for many of their applications much more quickly, and it gives them experience in the cloud as they stage the rest.

We are always willing to partner with state and local governments to share proofs of concept, build a framework to support successful cloud adoption, and help remove blockers where possible.

With 20 new governors sworn in 2018, what difference have you seen in states’ adoption of new technology including cloud?
I’m thrilled to see that innovation and transformation have become a major focus for governors. For example, the Governor of California has created a new Office of Digital Innovation to build more citizencentric applications. Governor DeSantis of Florida and Governor Walz of Minnesota have both driven major IT governance reforms that will foster more agile operations in the cloud. And states like Maryland, Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia are led by forward-thinking governors who are leveraging the cloud to improve cybersecurity, share data to improve citizen outcomes, and foster workforce development through the launch of degrees in cloud computing at universities and community colleges. Of course, these states aren’t finished yet and there are many more exciting things to come.

What is the importance of public-private partnerships in your opinion? Please share an example of any such partnerships that you may have been involved with and the impact it had on the industry.
Public-private partnerships are important because they bring together a diverse group of views, capabilities, and resources to solve big challenges, typically ones that each sector could not solve. One of the programs I am most proud of and passionate about is the AWS Cloud Innovation Center (CIC) program. AWS CICs provide an opportunity for nonprofits, education institutions, and government agencies to collaborate with other public sector organizations on their most pressing challenges, test new ideas with Amazon’s innovation process, and access the technology expertise of AWS. Last year, we published our first round of open source solutions created by our CICs. Each one is tied directly to common public sector challenges, such as protecting crops from pests or managing digital evidence to help solve crimes.