Peter Tseronis | Transition Leader
GCN IT Leadership Awards 2007 | Education's Tseronis focuses on light at the end of the IPv6 tunnel
Peter Tseronis, director of network services at the Education Department, is acutely aware of the Office of Management and Budget's order for agencies to transition to the new IPv6 networking protocols.
'We're down to a year and two months to the OMB deadline,' he said recently.
But Tseronis, who is overseeing Education's transition, sees that mandate as an opportunity rather than a chore. And his efforts aren't limited to Education.
Tseronis is he also is co-chairman of the CIO Council's IPv6 Working Group.
'I get pretty excited about the concept of end-to-end communications,' he said. 'You can't help but get excited about anytime, anywhere access to information. I'm passionate about it.'
It is this quality that defines Tseronis' management style, colleagues say.
'Pete's No. 1 trait is probably passion,' said David Harrity, Education's lead information technology specialist. 'Pete has elevated the game.'
During his 13 years at Education, Tseronis has distinguished himself as an advocate for IP convergence and IPv6. 'He's a bit of a tech-head,' Harrity said.
However, he did not come by that naturally. 'I came out of Villanova University with a liberal arts degree' in communications in 1989, Tseronis said.
His first government job was as a space management specialist administrative assistant to the Secretary of the Army. That was in 1991, when high-tech communications meant e-mail over local-area networks. Tseronis moved to Education's Chief Financial Officer's Office in 1993, where in 1997 he became an IT specialist and heard about a promising innovation.
'The Internet for me was the big eye-opening light bulb,' he said. 'I decided to go back to school.'
At Johns Hopkins University, Tseronis earned a master's degree in information and telecommunications systems for business. He had a choice of going down a technical or a managerial path in his IT career.
'I wanted to stay in management,' he said. 'I could be technically sound,' but his strength lies in his ability to explain. 'That is my mission. I feel like I do my job when I've bridged the two worlds' of technology and management.
He moved to the chief information officer's office as director of network services in 2000. There was a lot of talk at the time about converging voice and video onto IP data networks.Sound of savings
Education has been deploying voice-over-IP service in offices across the country, generating savings of as much as $2 million in the past five years, Harrity said.
Realizing those savings means spending money upfront on infrastructure.
'Selling it to management is the challenge,' Tseronis said. 'At the end of the day, it's not a technology problem, it's a business case.'
He was fortunate that his boss, Education CIO Craig Luigart ' now CIO at the Veterans Health Administration ' whom Tseronis called a visionary, was able to see the long-term benefits of a converged network.
The ability to see technology in terms of mission is what distinguishes Tseronis, said John McManus, chief technology officer and deputy CIO at the Commerce Department.
'Pete has a very good balance of enthusiasm, technology and knowledge of what mission really means,' said McManus, who has worked closely with Tseronis for the past year as the other co-chairman of the IPv6 Working Group. When Tseronis got the memo in July 2005 asking him to take on the job of IPv6 transition lead for Education, he saw that he had a choice.
'I can either embrace it and run with it' or fight it, he said.
'IPv6 is going to take a long, long time to deploy,' he said. 'We won't realize the full benefits of it until a long time after it's deployed. It's a tough sell.'
In his professional climb from staff through management to leadership positions, he has found that leadership is as much about the people below you as about the person at the top. He describes leadership as a process.
'It's all about collaboration and communication,' he said. 'I really want to empower people.'