How Teri Takai shattered the glass ceiling at DoD

“I never thought that I would go into government,” says Teri Takai, former chief information officer of the Department of Defense and advisor to the Secretary on information technology.

(Courtesy of DoD)

Takai tells Aileen Black and Gigi Schumm on this week’s Women of Washington (WoW) radio show that women should be open to working in government “not necessarily their entire career … but at the right time [in their life].”

Takai gives credit for her move into the federal space to former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Gramholm who told her, “It was time to think about giving back and going into public service.”

During her time as CIO of the Defense Department, Takai said she had a moment when the department’s mission came to life.


“The moment that was really life changing for me was the opportunity to go to Afghanistan,” Takai said. While there, she saw firsthand how she and her team kept DoD supply chains in motion.

“One of the things that was just so touching for me was a young man, who was part of a Navy Seal team, and his job was communications for that team when they went on a mission,” she said. “He had taken out all 80 pounds of communications equipment that he carried with him to support his team and spent time taking me through what all of those pieces of equipment were and why it was important for him to have them and why he needed the necessary back up. All of that was equipment that I was responsible — at the highest level — for making sure that he had and that it worked.”

Also in this week’s episode, Takai predicts the legacy of the Joint Information Environment (JIE), explains how the government should be competing with Silicon Valley for cyber talent and offers a different view on why working for the government — at any level — will never go out of style for the civic-minded.

Listen to the full interview with Takai.