David White was appointed Chief Information Officer at Battelle, the world’s largest independent research and development organization, in February 2012. In this position David and his team is responsible for strategically aligning and advancing all strategic corporate application development, platforms, and development initiatives across the enterprise. This includes developing strategic assessments, roadmaps and application architecture plans that support current and future business needs. A key component of this position entails leveraging new and emerging trends and concepts to more cost effectively provide business solutions. David looks to STEM to provide his team with the right resources with the right skills to get the most out of emerging trends and technology.
Prior to accepting the CIO appointment, David worked as a consultant where he led the implementation efforts for the largest statewide enterprise resource planning (ERP) installation in the country, the state of New York. David also was responsible for the successful implementation of the Ohio Administrative Knowledge System (OAKS), which is the state of Ohio’s implementation of PeopleSoft ERP. David’s ERP experience also extends into higher education where he led a team as part of the ERP system implementation at Howard University in Washington DC.
David has held various executive level positions with the state of Ohio including Executive Program Manager of the Ohio Administrative Knowledge System, Director of State Accounting within the Office of Budget and Management, and Director of Revenue Management within the State of Ohio Treasury.
David is an advisory board member of the Columbus African American Leadership Academy. David attended the Ohio State University where he studied electrical engineering, Columbus State Community College receiving a degree in business administration, and Franklin University receiving a degree in computer management.
A native of Columbus, Ohio David lives in Bexley, Ohio with his wife Toya and children.
Battelle is the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization, with over 22,000 employees at more than 60 locations globally. A 501(c)(3) charitable trust, Battelle was founded on industrialist Gordon Battelle’s vision that business and scientific interests can go hand-in-hand as forces for positive change. Today, Battelle manages the world’s leading national laboratories and maintains a contract research portfolio spanning consumer and industrial, energy and environment, health and pharmaceutical and national security. We are valued for our independence and ability to innovate within virtually any business or research climate. From large government agencies and multi-national corporations to small start-ups and incubator projects, Battelle provides the resources, brainpower and flexibility to fulfill our clients’ needs.
Battelle’s own mission includes a strong charitable commitment to community development and education. That’s why we support staff volunteer efforts; STEM education programs; and philanthropic projects in the communities we serve.
STEM education, for me, is all about mindset. It’s about creating a mindset in students that’s focused on innovation, not just invention. I think about that mindset every day, because it’s exactly the frame of mind I want for our team at Battelle.
Just like strong information technology, STEM education asks people to think beyond “What do I know?” to “What can I solve for someone else?” Every CIO has faced that conversation with a product team where it becomes clear that as technically inventive as a new solution may be, the average user just won’t understand it. STEM’s focus on real-world application helps people see these hurdles sooner and make real progress.
Battelle is closely involved with dozens of STEM-focused schools. One hallmark of each of these high-performing schools is learning based around projects embedded throughout the school year. Whether we’re talking about Metro Early College High School students designing underwater robots or students from MC2 STEM High School in Cleveland building displays for the local botanical garden, STEM helps students work at the same level CIO’s demand of their teams. It’s all about focusing attention on how we create innovative and useful solutions.
That real-world application not only matters in how my team works, but also in how we hire. Our focus on the practical means certifications in areas like Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert, Networking and Security are essential to our search for talent. Experience and college credentials still matter, but I’m keenly focused on what kind of hands-on skills an employee will bring to the table.
There is another critical piece I consider when building teams, and it applies to STEM education as well. How are we actively seeking out women and minorities to be a part of our organizations and a part of our schools? Metro takes at least half its student body from Columbus City Schools. More than 90 percent of MC2’s students come from economically disadvantaged households. And STEM doesn’t stop there. In Ohio, we have STEM schools in dozens of communities where students little chance at access to coding classes, one-to-one computing, and the other infrastructure of a 21st century education.
As we seek to build the profile of a CIO from tech support to a product developer, the make-up of our teams will only matter more. Our teams need to mirror the markets we seek to reach.
We live in a diverse world. To succeed, our teams must begin to better reflect that reality. In part, because diverse perspectives help us understand our users, but there’s a second reason I recruit women and minorities for my teams: diversity of thought.
Without different backgrounds and perspectives, teams can become homogenized. They can stop questioning, experimenting, and innovating. All that makes it even harder for a team to build something the user needs and understands.
Just this year, we’ve seen the power of a diverse team pay off at Battelle. After extensive development, our department rolled out a new company-wide system for resolving and tracking IT problems. Weeks later, a Battelle-affiliate found themselves in need of the same kind of system. But, instead of Columbus, Ohio, this team was based in Qatar.
Despite a literal ocean between us and our new customers, the Qatar team could quickly and reliably deploy our system. Why? Because the team that built the original product was diverse and skilled enough to build a product that could last.
I’ve seen the benefits of comprehensive STEM education first-hand in new employees. Battelle works at the cutting edge of science and technology. One of the labs we manage runs Titan, the world’s fastest supercomputer in 2012. And the lab, Oak National Laboratory, is hard at work on Titan’s successor. For my team, the pressure of managing change at this speed requires hiring people who add significant value from their first day on the job.
Graduates of STEM programs often have stronger skillsets. They’re able to learn new material and adapt to change faster. Those skills are essential for my organization. For the graduates, those skills are more. They’re essential for modern life.