by Tracy Mayor

Profile of George Newstrom, Virginia Secretary of Technology

May 01, 20032 mins

Age: 56

Salary: $128,000

Previous job: Corporate senior vice president and president of EDS Asia

Took the job in March 2002 because: “I’d been in the private sector for 28 years. I was getting ready to retire, and I wasn’t interested in a government job. But I met with [Gov. Mark Warner], and we talked about the job, and I said, I like what he stands for. I think I can contribute.”

Technology challenge: Using technology to make government more efficient and effective with an ever-shrinking pool of resources. “Downsizing is the same for government as it is for private industry. We’re literally going through the same drill, and it’s tough.”

Management challenge: Moving quickly. By law, the governor of Virginia is limited to one four-year term, which gives the administration very little time to implement long-term change. “It requires very quick action. We have to have a direct impact in 18 months. If our plans aren’t implemented in, say, 18 to 24 months, we’ve probably lost our window of opportunity.”

On the pay cut: “I take dollars out of my wallet every day to pay for this job. It’s not a position you take for the stock options or bonuses.”

His future: Retirement.

Take-away: “It would behoove anyone to take a public position, the way executives take on an overseas assignment. The wheels of change may turn at a different pace, but having a working understanding of that process will make you a better executive in the long run.”