CIO Spotlight: Nathan G. Rogers, SAIC

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? “The hardest roles to fill are in cybersecurity. The need for good cybersecurity in all industries is growing exponentially…”


Name: Nathan G. Rogers

Company: SAIC

Job title: Vice President & CIO

Date started current role: January 2019

Location: New Hampshire (Home)

Nathan G. Rogers is senior vice president and chief information officer (CIO) for SAIC. In this role, he manages information technology (IT) strategic planning, operations, governance, and cybersecurity. He focuses on advancing technical and digital innovation that supports the organisation’s mission success. As CIO, he is leading the company’s digital transformation of IT and providing best-in-class customer service that enables SAIC to serve and protect our world. Rogers has served in various diversified IT, financial, and operational management roles for 20 years across Engility, which was acquired by SAIC in 2019, as well as its legacy companies.

What was your first job? I became a paperboy in third grade, which honestly started my love for hard work. After college my first job was a staff accountant at The Analytic Sciences Corp. Inc. (TASC).

Did you always want to work in IT? I always wanted to run a business. I never imagined being a CIO, but I pinch myself every day that I get to be a CIO and especially the CIO for a great company like SAIC.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I received my Master of Business Administration from Boston University and a Bachelor of Science in accounting from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. I have always had the attitude that I need to work myself out of a job. When my job becomes unnecessary or routine day-to-day work, then it is time for me to move on to a new challenge. I started as an accountant and quickly become a manager of a team at 26. In 2005, I went on a four-week honeymoon. And before I left, I told my boss you will realise you don’t need me in this role by the time I get back and you will either need to fire me or promote me to something new. When I got back, he agreed and I became an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and data warehouse program manager to help integrate a $5 billion sector at Northrop Grumman.

At 29, I became the director of Contract Accounting for the IT sector at Northrop Grumman, and the team grew to 350 people by 2009 with a couple sectors merging. In 2010, global investment firm KKR and General Atlantic bought TASC, and I decided to leave Northrop Grumman and help stand up a ‘new’ TASC. I led the selection of our business systems, related managed data centers and stand-up of a shared services organisation. In 2015, after running the integration of Engility and TASC, I was made the CIO for Engility. It has been an amazing run, and again, I am so happy to be a CIO.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? We are focused on digital technologies, future of work tools, improved cybersecurity, data analytics and knowledge management that will help grow the business, empower and inspire people, drive business optimisation and demonstrate technology leadership.

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? SAIC CEO Nazzic Keene’s priorities are to drive profitable growth, focus on our momentum areas and our people, and to integrate our acquisitions successfully. We use OKRs (objectives and key results) to track progress at SAIC, and my objectives align directly to Nazzic’s and the entire leadership team. OKRs are a great way to align our organisational priorities.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? CIO roles can vary widely across organisations and industries. I can only speak for my experience. I believe I have the right span of control today and my team can contribute in a meaningful way to SAIC’s purpose which is to advance the power of technology and innovation to serve and protect the world.

Are you leading a digital transformation? If so, does it emphasise customer experience and revenue growth or operational efficiency? If both, how do you balance the two?  I am leading the digital transformation at SAIC. We have five objectives in our digital strategy that include the three noted above plus enabling mission success and transforming the way we work with an agile operating model. We balance these five objectives by operationalising our digital strategy and planning a well-thought-out three-year roadmap that is reviewed quarterly to ensure our priorities are correct. Using OKRs we are able to stay focused on our priorities and measure our success.

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? We use the Technology Business Model (TBM) to provide transparency and to quantify our business value.

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? We are looking for smart, hard working, passionate, diverse, and creative people who are willing to learn. We work hard, and we have fun. I am cultivating a team empowered to make decisions and to think courageously. We are offering the training needed to advance their technical and leadership skills.

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? The hardest roles to fill are in cybersecurity. The need for good cybersecurity in all industries is growing exponentially, and there just aren’t enough people in the field. With that said, SAIC’s mission is compelling and people are attracted to our purpose. We have an amazing culture and are able to attract and retain the best.

What's the best career advice you ever received? Put your family first.

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. Succession plans are incredibly important. We are working across SAIC to make sure we have succession plans for key roles.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Make sure you love what you do. Bring passion to you role. Remember it is all about the people. My values are Family, Team, Customer, Community and Self.

What has been your greatest career achievement?  In 2010, TASC stood up a $1.6 billion company after the spinout from Northrop Grumman with just a white piece of paper and a huge portfolio of programs. It felt like the biggest garage start-up ever. We had 12 months to choose and implement all the business systems, networks, managed data centre, design the business processes, hire a shared services team, train everyone, convert data and continue to deliver mission success to our customers. It was a challenge like no other, and we knocked it out of the park.

When Engility bought TASC, we ended up using the TASC systems, processes and people in most cases to run Engility. How often do you see a company move to the acquired company’s toolset? That is how successful the back office implementation during the divestiture of TASC went.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? I have very few regrets, but I do wish that I became a CIO earlier. I had former CFOs that I had worked for suggest that I should be a CIO after the TASC stand-up in 2011, and I didn’t take it seriously. I thought becoming a controller and then a CFO was my career path. I wished I had embraced the idea of IT leadership much earlier than 2015.

What are you reading now? ? I tend to read/listen to a couple books at the same time. My whole team and I just finished The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni to prepare for a workshop to work on creating clarity in the organisation. He is just fantastic in improving organisation health. I highly recommend all of his books. I am also listening to How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi right now, and I am reading Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien in parallel with my 12 year old son.

Most people don't know that I… Hiked the Appalachian Trail.

In my spare time, I like to…Be outdoors with my family hiking, paddling, swimming, playing sports.

Ask me to do anything but… Wear a tie.