Federal Health Chief Information Security & Privacy Officer

Melina S

Cyber
Maryland
Years at GDIT: 7

“GDIT offers you almost anything you can imagine in the realm of cybersecurity.”

Helping research live on. My team owns it.

In Federal Health, we touch the health data of a lot of people. Our customers are curing disease over at the Center for Disease Control, curing cancer over at the National Institute of Health. Supporting veteran care at Veteran Affairs. Our job is to make sure that we’re protecting all of that data.

I think there’s a misconception about cybersecurity work. Sometimes we’re introduced to a new team and they’re nervous about meeting us.

I’ve worked with a few labs where the team members see us coming and want to hide everything. But the things they’re trying to keep us away from are the things we want to see. The worst case scenario is there is a brown out or a flood - what would happen to that research and that data?

That often leads to a storage conversation that allows us to take the data and put it somewhere secure so they have it for years to come.

I want to protect their life’s work. And make sure that in the event one lab laptop goes down - the work and research will live on.

Being asked to take the next step.

I’ve always been focused on the next step in my career, but GDIT approached me with a new role before I had the chance to find it.

A role opened that was leading cybersecurity over all of Federal Health. An internal GDIT recruiter contacted me and said, “We want you to interview. This looks right up your alley.” I wasn’t looking, I was happy leading my team.
It was incredible that recruiting was looking out for me. As a woman, sometimes we’re afraid to say that we want those executive jobs. Moving into this role was a real shot in the arm. It was GDIT saying, “We see you. We notice and we want you to take the next step.”

The personal impact of working in Federal Health.

When I was leading a cybersecurity team at the National Cancer Institute, my daughter was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. That really hit home and made me realize what researchers are doing is so important - and in turn what we’re doing to support them is also important.

GDIT took care of us while we were in the hospital. They made sure everything was okay and supported us through that difficult time.

Sometimes cybersecurity can feel cold. A lot of numbers and metrics. But at the end of the day it’s just people. My connections with my colleagues and their families have been the most rewarding part of my career.