A spy by luck: the case file on CIA's Jeanne Tisinger
CIA Chief Information Officer Jeanne Tisinger
May 25th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

A spy by luck: the case file on CIA's Jeanne Tisinger

Editor's note: In the Security Clearance "Case File" series, CNN national security producers profile key members of the intelligence community. As part of the series, Security Clearance is focusing on the roles women play in the U.S. intelligence community

By Pam Benson

You don't really expect to simply fall into the spy business, but for Jeanne Tisinger, that's pretty much how it happened.

She was a business major at George Mason University, looking for some experience in her field while continuing her studies. She joined the college's work-study program and, much to her amazement, her first interview was with the Central Intelligence Agency.

"I was surprised they were even hiring co-op students," she says. "Why would they want a college kid to come into their version of campus? I wasn't sure what they were going to do with me. Then there was, of course, a part of me that was. wow, the mystique of the CIA - what better place to start. It was just kind of a bit of a wide-eyed wonder."

That was nearly three decades ago.

"I'm the classic story of sometimes it's better to be lucky than good," Tisinger says.

She's still with the agency, rising through the ranks to become the CIA's first female chief information officer nearly two years ago. Her job is to oversee the CIA's vital information technology systems and coordinate information-sharing.

Managing IT may not be a traditional spy role, but don't say that to Tisinger. She pushes back on the notion that she's not a spook.

"My DNA is shaped as an intel officer first. So I actually don't see myself as a business major or a technologist, or I should say I don't define myself that way. I see myself as an intel officer. All of us are here to support the intel mission."

Even becoming a CIA technologist had a bit of luck involved. In the mid '80s, personal computers were hardly common place at work or home, but Tisinger was given an assignment to develop a workforce handbook, and one of her tools was this new piece of technology.

"They gave me this PC, I liked it, I was good at it and by the way (there was) no one else around me - there weren't a whole lot of people to compete against in that field."

Being in the right place at the right time led Tisinger down a new career path. "It's good to get in first, to get in early," she says.

It was a growth business with lots of opportunities for a technically proficient officer.

But it was also a male-dominated field.

Women were in a minority and as Tisinger looks back on the early days, she says the environment wasn't as friendly.

"I sometimes felt that there was a sense by some of my bosses that I was only here temporarily rather than in it for the long run."

She tells the story of an incident that occurred after she took her first leadership position.

"I was the chief and I think there was one other woman and, I think, probably five or six men that were on the program. They were all these big, tall guys, way over six feet. I'm like five-two. We were doing a program management review with this particular commercial company and we were in the company's space," she remembers.

"There's a big long conference table. The government (staff) comes walking in and the men are all sitting at the table and I come sit down. And the vendor program manager of the company was just addressing the men of the audience. I'm like, 'Hello, I would be the chief.'"

The lesson Tisinger learned from the incident: "Sometimes you have to assert yourself in more obvious and direct ways."

The CIA had two separate IT systems, one to support overseas posts and another to handle technology for the Washington metro area. In 2000, Tisinger was asked to participate on the team tasked with joining the systems.

"We needed to create one organization and one global network, and basically (create) a mesh community of technology providers that support everyone across the globe."

That meant battling an internal culture, especially among the overseas contingent that liked being separate.

Now that she is the CIO - a position she assumed in July 2010 - Tisinger will use that experience to help out the overall intelligence community.

The spy agencies are not immune to the budget constraints facing the U.S. government as it tries to dig itself out of massive deficits.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said last fall he expects to make significant savings by integrating the community's IT infrastructure. Most of the 16 members of the intelligence community have separate systems.

Tisinger says the intelligence community has vast amounts of data to analyze, and integrating systems will make it easier for the collectors and the analysts to connect with their counterparts.

"It's about lowering the barriers for collaboration and knowledge across the (intelligence community). If you can unify the underlying foundation, that will help."

Tisinger says the CIA will be the principle provider for key portions of the new IT infrastructure.

"Collaborative to a point, and then I make a decision" is the way Tisinger describes her management style. "You can't study it to death. You have to set a direction, approve a plan, execute and adjust."

Tisinger also tries to focus her time on the most important issues not necessarily the most urgent.

"You can't get caught up in the tyranny of the inbox. If you only focus your personal time on the urgent, you'll be a gerbil in a cage. You've got to be able to lift your head up, look out a couple of years and say what are the most important things we need to get done."

Has she ever thought of leaving the organization she never expected to join in the first place? Tisinger says there were a couple of times she considered going to private industry, but didn't.

The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States became a defining moment for her.

"As I think about my job, as a CIO, it's all about the information we can bring to bear. I can directly tie what I do, what my people do, to keeping this country safe and keeping my family safe," Tisinger says.

"I believe we have a very noble purpose and I find that very motivational. It is something that I genuinely feel, and that is the kind of tugging at the heartstrings of my workforce to make them feel such a critical part of the intelligence mission. It's a good career."

soundoff (866 Responses)
  1. RV Repair Fountain Valley

    This is the perfect web site for anybody who really wants to find out about this topic. You understand so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually would want toÖHaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a topic which has been discussed for years. Wonderful stuff, just excellent!

    https://www.acer.com/en/home/leaving/ocrvcenter.com/

    June 24, 2021 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  2. RV Electrical Repair Near Me

    Great info. Lucky me I found your website by chance (stumbleupon). I've book marked it for later!

    https://www.cefic.org/click.aspx?uid=7aad121c-9f74-447a-8222-9ba69cb40182&fw=http://ocrvcenter.com/

    June 24, 2021 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  3. RV Mobile Repair Service Near Me

    http://result.folder.jp/tool/location.cgi?url=http://ocrvmotorsports.info

    June 24, 2021 at 12:03 pm | Reply
  4. Internet Marketing Mechanics

    http://aluminumdistribution.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=curtismelancon.com

    June 24, 2021 at 10:34 am | Reply
  5. Internet Marketing Service

    I need to to thank you for this excellent read!! I certainly loved every little bit of it. I've got you saved as a favorite to check out new stuff you postÖ

    https://lifecollection.top/site/gourl?url=https://rankemailads.com

    June 24, 2021 at 8:06 am | Reply
  6. Digital Marketing Experts

    http://www.twinsradionetwork.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=lifeboosterpack.com

    June 24, 2021 at 7:51 am | Reply
  7. Social Media Marketing Firms Near Me

    http://50carleton.withbob.net/info.php?a%5B%5D=<a+href=https://spokanevalleywebdesign.com

    June 24, 2021 at 7:48 am | Reply
  8. RV Repair Center Near Me

    http://crabnyc.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.me

    June 24, 2021 at 3:33 am | Reply
  9. spas near me

    http://dieblok.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bestservicenearme.com

    June 23, 2021 at 11:53 pm | Reply
  10. 24 Hour RV Repair Near Me

    Excellent article. I am facing many of these issues as well..

    http://www.pharmstats.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.mobi

    June 23, 2021 at 11:43 pm | Reply
  11. pharmacepticacom

    sildenafil 50 mg best price https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 23, 2021 at 10:33 pm | Reply
  12. used tires near me

    Having read this I thought it was very enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this information together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

    http://www.cellaccessories.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.bestshopnearme.com

    June 23, 2021 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  13. Social Media Marketing Company Near Me

    You made some really good points there. I looked on the internet to find out more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this web site.

    http://olympicminds.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=juicycalls.com

    June 23, 2021 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  14. Digital Marketing Firms

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend who had been conducting a little research on this. And he actually ordered me lunch due to the fact that I found it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to talk about this subject here on your site.

    http://www.abhct.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=online-website-marketing.com

    June 23, 2021 at 4:41 pm | Reply
  15. RV Suspension Repair Near Me

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the issues. It was truly informative. Your website is useful. Thank you for sharing!

    https://ams.ceu.edu/optimal/optimal.php?url=https://ocrvmotorsports.biz

    June 23, 2021 at 2:58 pm | Reply
  16. Digital Marketing Consultant Near Me

    Good blog you have got here.. Itís difficult to find high quality writing like yours these days. I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!

    http://mp3cafe.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=postfallsmarketing.com

    June 23, 2021 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  17. Best RV Repair Near Me

    http://alexduffyshow.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 23, 2021 at 7:41 am | Reply
  18. Digital Marketing Consultant

    Excellent site you have here.. Itís difficult to find excellent writing like yours these days. I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    http://phapay.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=consciousgrowthmarketing.com

    June 23, 2021 at 6:32 am | Reply
  19. Best RV Repair Near Me

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this post and also the rest of the site is really good.

    http://www.4lslearning.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 23, 2021 at 3:38 am | Reply
  20. Internet Marketing Service Near Me

    Itís nearly impossible to find experienced people for this topic, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks

    http://www.dispatchmedia.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=consciousgrowthmarketing.com

    June 23, 2021 at 2:47 am | Reply
  21. girls gotta eat podcast

    https://reporting.singlefeed.com/r/?cvsfe=5&cvsfurl=//backbonehunters.com

    June 23, 2021 at 1:55 am | Reply
  22. 538 politics podcast

    The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn't fail me just as much as this particular one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read, nonetheless I truly thought you would probably have something helpful to say. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something you could possibly fix if you weren't too busy searching for attention.

    http://www.monamagick.com/gbook/go.php?url=https://backbonehunters.com

    June 23, 2021 at 1:48 am | Reply
  23. bunny ears podcast

    http://likeaprosports.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=backbonehunters.com

    June 23, 2021 at 1:23 am | Reply
  24. RV Repair Parts Near Me

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular post! It is the little changes that produce the largest changes. Thanks for sharing!

    http://arcticstorm.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 23, 2021 at 1:18 am | Reply
  25. Social Media Marketing Companies Near Me

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It's always exciting to read articles from other authors and practice something from their websites.

    https://dairyadvantage.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=consciousgrowthmarketing.com/

    June 22, 2021 at 10:04 pm | Reply
  26. top podcast

    http://autism.invamama.ru/redirect?url=https://backbonehunters.com/

    June 22, 2021 at 7:14 pm | Reply
  27. RV Electrical Repair Near Me

    This is a really good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very precise infoÖ Thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!

    http://jabry.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorsports.co

    June 22, 2021 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  28. norm macdonald podcast

    http://emerginginsights.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=backbonehunters.com

    June 22, 2021 at 6:12 pm | Reply
  29. RV Engine Repair Near Me

    Iím amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog thatís both equally educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy that I found this during my hunt for something relating to this.

    https://www.nbmain.com/NetBooking.Reservations.Server.Servlets.Availability.SiteAvailabilityMainR?innkey=mcdaniel&bg=&formname=rdetail&s=BookMark&backpage=https://ocrv.store&ikback=&pcode=&ik=0&months=3&month=February&day=1&year=2022

    June 22, 2021 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  30. financial coach near me

    http://ilcicu.com.tw/LotongSchool/imglink/hits.php?id=33&url=https://masteringthemanwithin.com

    June 22, 2021 at 10:14 am | Reply
  31. online executive coach

    I love it when individuals get together and share ideas. Great site, stick with it!

    http://funfest.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=realchrisburns.com

    June 22, 2021 at 10:08 am | Reply
  32. Best RV Repair Near Me

    Your style is unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this site.

    http://aspheute.com/service/3w_link.asp?3wsite=//ocrvparts.com

    June 22, 2021 at 8:42 am | Reply
  33. RV Repair Shops Near Me

    http://chicagowebstore.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorcoaches.com

    June 22, 2021 at 6:42 am | Reply
  34. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa

    Everything is very open with a really clear clarification of the challenges. It was really informative. Your website is very helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    http://crm.abit.org.br/redir.ashx?URI=https://ocrvcenter.info

    June 22, 2021 at 4:31 am | Reply
  35. Sprinter Van Ecm Repair

    http://www.volleyballaustralia.org.au/Redirect.aspx?destination=https://www.fleetautorepairshop.com/

    June 22, 2021 at 4:30 am | Reply
  36. Benny Shinsky

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a video game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these second life websites and blogs

    http://digitalbeginnings.blogspot.com/2007/08/children-and-video-games.html

    June 21, 2021 at 11:09 pm | Reply
  37. Van Technician

    Iím impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog thatís equally educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which too few people are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy I came across this during my search for something regarding this.

    http://swinehook.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=boxtruckrepairshop.com

    June 21, 2021 at 11:09 pm | Reply
  38. Handicap Van Repair

    Wonderful post! We are linking to this particularly great content on our site. Keep up the good writing.

    http://hvacdoctor.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=fleetrepairshops.com

    June 21, 2021 at 10:36 pm | Reply
  39. Mercedes Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that you ought to write more on this issue, it may not be a taboo subject but generally people don't talk about such topics. To the next! All the best!!

    http://www.radwellint.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=customcampervans.com

    June 21, 2021 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  40. RV Roof Repair Service Near Me

    http://en25.biz/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorsports.com

    June 21, 2021 at 7:16 pm | Reply
  41. RV Repairs Near Me

    http://bongu.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.ocrv.rocks

    June 21, 2021 at 6:17 pm | Reply
  42. Passenger Van Repair

    Saved as a favorite, I like your web site!

    http://americancarehp.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=fleetservicesorangecounty.com

    June 21, 2021 at 3:54 pm | Reply
  43. meijer near me

    Hi there! This article couldnít be written much better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he'll have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.folle.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bestshopnearme.com

    June 21, 2021 at 12:42 pm | Reply
  44. RV Repair Orange County California

    http://www.championfg.ws/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.ocrvcenter.com

    June 21, 2021 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  45. bar near me

    http://www.theplazacastle.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bestservicenearme.com

    June 21, 2021 at 7:45 am | Reply
  46. dispensaries near me

    This is the right site for everyone who hopes to understand this topic. You know so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally would want toÖHaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic which has been written about for years. Excellent stuff, just great!

    http://nethercutt-museum.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bestlocalnearme.com

    June 21, 2021 at 7:14 am | Reply
  47. church's chicken near me

    This is the right blog for anybody who would like to understand this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally would want toÖHaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a topic that's been discussed for a long time. Wonderful stuff, just wonderful!

    http://deltechomes.biz/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bestlocalnearme.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 5:07 am | Reply
  48. jewelry store near me

    http://africare.info/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=nearmyspot.com

    June 21, 2021 at 4:31 am | Reply
  49. Camper Repairs Near Me

    Howdy! This article couldnít be written any better! Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I am going to forward this post to him. Fairly certain he'll have a great read. Many thanks for sharing!

    http://www.celendin.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 21, 2021 at 3:08 am | Reply
  50. pharmaceptica

    generic sildenafil sale online https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 3:04 am | Reply
  51. Camper Repair Shops Near Me

    http://jeremy-voss.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 21, 2021 at 2:37 am | Reply
  52. supercuts near me

    http://www.haregot.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=masternearme.com

    June 21, 2021 at 12:29 am | Reply
  53. Grace Lenort

    https://www.etis.ford.com/externalURL.do?url=https://www.highrise-agency.com/

    June 20, 2021 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  54. Maxine Sturgis

    https://www.triathlon.org/?URL=https://www.gomode.tv/

    June 20, 2021 at 8:23 pm | Reply
  55. Deshawn Dockray

    https://response-o-matic.com/thank_you.php?u=www.arizonasvision.com

    June 20, 2021 at 6:16 pm | Reply
  56. Rodolfo Poaipuni

    I have to thank you for the efforts you've put in penning this blog. I really hope to view the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own blog now 😉

    http://ichikawa.genki365.net/gnki02/common/redirect.php?url=https://postfallsayurveda.com/

    June 20, 2021 at 5:38 pm | Reply
  57. Delma Jefford

    Next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not disappoint me just as much as this particular one. After all, I know it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I genuinely thought you would have something helpful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of crying about something that you can fix if you weren't too busy searching for attention.

    http://www.mydoterra.com/Application/index.cfm?EnrollerID=458046&Theme=DefaultTheme&Returnurl=maseratis.net/&LNG=en_dot&iact=1

    June 20, 2021 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  58. Renato Blakenship

    https://maps.google.tk/url?q=https://ocrv.vip

    June 20, 2021 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  59. Ashlee Grigsby

    Your style is really unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this site.

    http://paltalk.com/client/webapp/client/External.wmt?url=summitboys.co

    June 20, 2021 at 1:38 pm | Reply
  60. Social Media Marketing Businesses

    Great information. Lucky me I found your website by chance (stumbleupon). I've book-marked it for later!

    https://www.waypaver.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=https://affordableranking.com/

    June 20, 2021 at 10:27 am | Reply
  61. Social Media Marketing Services

    http://norcalshotblast.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=http://www.affordableranking.com/

    June 20, 2021 at 9:55 am | Reply
  62. SEO Marketing Experts

    Great web site you have got here.. Itís difficult to find high-quality writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    http://medreview.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.https://www.affordableranking.com/

    June 20, 2021 at 6:29 am | Reply
  63. Local Marketing Near Me

    https://racialdiscrimination.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.https://affordableranking.com

    June 20, 2021 at 5:21 am | Reply
  64. Digital Marketing Near Me

    You should be a part of a contest for one of the finest blogs on the internet. I will recommend this web site!

    https://avantguard.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=http://affordableranking.com

    June 20, 2021 at 3:09 am | Reply
  65. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now

    I was pretty pleased to discover this site. I need to to thank you for your time due to this fantastic read!! I definitely savored every bit of it and i also have you book-marked to see new information on your web site.

    http://mydoterra.com/Application/index.cfm?EnrollerID=458046&Theme=DefaultTheme&Returnurl=https://www.ocrv.fun/cargo-van-collision-repair-shop-near-me/&LNG=en_dot&iact=1

    June 19, 2021 at 9:44 pm | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Leave a Reply to Seo Marketing Agencies


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.