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Minnesota CISO on Drawing Cyber Talent to Government

Minnesota CISO Rohit Tandon explains that as cybersecurity threats grow, so does the need for staff to protect the state, and in a world of remote work, competition for skilled talent is fiercer than ever.

SEATTLE — The challenge of attracting and retaining tech talent to government work is not a new one, but it has perhaps shifted in the past 18 months.

At the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Annual Conference Monday, Minnesota CISO Rohit Tandon said that as cases of cybersecurity incidents, particularly ransomware attacks, grow, so does the need for a bigger workforce to combat them. While Minnesota IT Services already has highly skilled staff, Tandon said, it just needs more of them.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, remote work has been both a pro and a con for Minnesota IT: Telework is a draw for many potential employees, and allows the state to hire cyber experts outside the capital in St. Paul. But the same can be said for private companies looking for talent that may be drawn away from government.

State CIO Tarek Tomes shared similar thoughts about the benefits and drawbacks of hiring in a post-pandemic world. He said what will be key to bolstering the state workforce, including cybersecurity staff, is the lure of the public sector’s mission.

“Many people are drawn to what we do, the idea that technology is really going to alter and change someone’s life for the better,” Tomes said, “and we will continue to lead with that as we look to find technologists that can really help.”
Lauren Kinkade is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 15 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.
Noelle Knell is the executive editor for e.Republic, responsible for setting the overall direction for e.Republic’s editorial platforms, including <i>Government Technology</i>, <i>Governing</i>, <i>Industry Insider, Emergency Management</i> and the Center for Digital Education. She has been with e.Republic since 2011, and has decades of writing, editing and leadership experience. A California native, Noelle has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history.