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November 1 Newsletter


Welcome to the SIMCAC Weekly Newsletter....
....Where each week, we'll share SIMCAC announcements, member spotlights, local/national industry news, upcoming events, and recaps of past ones! 

SIMCAC Member Spotlight Article

Saeed Elnaj - VP of IT & CIO at National Council on Aging (NCOA)

Briefly describe your current company and role 
      I joined National Council on Aging (NCOA) early this year as the Vice President, Information Technology and CIO. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is the national voice for every person’s right to age well. NCOA empowers individuals with trusted solutions to improve their own health and economic security—and protects and strengthens federal programs that people depend on as they age. Working with a nationwide network of partners, NCOA’s goal is to improve the lives of 10 million older adults by 2020.
You’re approaching a year in this position, what has been your biggest challenge? Biggest learning lesson or takeaway?

      It has been 10 months since I joined NCOA. With every new position, I assess some 10 dimensions of IT and the overall organization. I started with looking at the business strategy, the IT strategy, governance, IT portfolio and key assets, security, DR and Business Continuity Plans (BCP), IT budget, IT infrastructure and OPS, and vendors and partners.

      Within few months and working along the business lines and with the executive team, we were able to define the business and IT strategies and identified the need for a digital transformation initiative. We found that we had many digital products, but were operating in some analogue fashion and culture.

      From there on, I started the preparations for the DX initiative to assess our readiness as an organization. I mainly, faced two challenges: one is resources capacity and limitations to meet the immediate needs of the DX initiative and the second is the cultural readiness.

      I found out that I needed to adjust my style and expectations in executing the new digital transformation strategy to fit with the NCOA culture  or to try and work on slightly modifying the culture to support the DX strategy. DX initiatives by nature require taking more educated risks and not being afraid of failing. This is something that most organizations are not used to. I must say that this is still work in progress.

What current professional project, challenge, or opportunity are you most excited about and why?

     I’m most excited about our digital transformation initiative. It is a crucial initiative that will redefine how we serve our customers, how we scale to serve more millions of our customers, and how we can positively impact their lives on daily basis. We are looking at delivering our products through an omni-channel architecture that includes our current web, social media, email, and Google channels. We are also looking at expanding these channels to include text messaging (SMS), audio (Alexa, Siri, and Google Home), and a mobile app.

      Even more exciting for me, is the ability to use the vast amounts of data that NCOA has gathered over the years to help predict the needs of our customers through the development of a Machine Learning (ML) engine that can predict the needs of our customer and deliver the right product, to the right customer, at the right time and through the right channel. We know that this is a big lofty goal, but my team and I are looking forward to this exciting journey in delivering this ML engine.

Outside of work, what endeavors are you most excited about today?

      Outside of  work I’m most excited about two things: continuing to write articles for about the future impact of technology on our lives. I’ve been writing about the impact and future of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. I also wrote articles on self-driving cars and their future impact on our lives and economy. I also volunteer as a judge on UC Berkeley Big Ideas Contest where I get the opportunity to review and evaluate amazing and innovative ideas.  

I believe you are a fairly new member? What has been the most beneficial part about being a SIM/SIMCAC member?

      I have tremendously enjoyed the events that SIMCAC has sponsored. These events always offered great learning and networking opportunities. Most, if not all, of the events have been spot on, in terms of the issues and challenges that I and NCOA-IT was grappling with. For example the AI event sponsored by SIMCAC and how members shared their AI experiences, and the session and presentation by Peter High and how he shared his insights into how build a world class IT strategy and operations. In fact, these events were an eye opener that encouraged me to join SIMCAC as a member.
Only Two Weeks Away!
The SIMCAC Executive Women Leadership Breakfast
November 15h from 07:30 AM - 09:30 AM
Washington, DC

Topic:  Identifying and Living Out Your Brand!

In today’s workplace, women are leaders, empowered and making a difference in the environment.  Yet still, many women do have challenges being heard, standing in the power of their role, and defining exactly who or what they want to become.

This SIMCAC Executive Women Leadership Breakfast will focus on how a female leader can define her position of leadership in her organization and stand tall amid challenges and negative stereotypes.

Conversations will surround:

  • Career enhancement and advancement
  • A seat at the Exec table
  • Posture for power

Join your peers to enjoy a time of fulfilling and inspiring discussions, stories and guidance.  Attendees are encouraged to attend with their direct reports to take advantage of this development opportunity.  Leadership Coach and Corporate Culture Strategist, Tiffany Houser, will be on hand to deliver some key points to empower this part of your career journey.   

As your gift for attending this leadership event, Tiffany is offering a 15-minute complimentary coaching session with her, over the phone, to dive deeper into your leadership goals. Sign-up for time during the breakfast.

Our Speaker:

Tiffany Houser - As a leadership coach and culture strategist, Tiffany Houser has over 18 years experience working with tech companies and tech professionals. Her work allows aspiring leaders and professionals to step into their professional purpose so they can fully engage in the work they passionately love while creating an impact and elevating their leadership. The work includes breaking through your mindsets that are holding you back to clear the way for you to become and inspiring leader in tech. With her culture transformation work, Tiffany and her team of inspiring and empowering coaches and leaders collaborate with your senior leadership to define your thriving culture and bring it to life with the 4 cornerstones of her work - insight, emotional intelligence, inspirational leadership and impact. Tiffany and her team also produce and facilitate corporate retreats and workshops, and are available for speaking engagements. To find out more about Tiffany Houser, please check out her site and her LinkedIn profile.

Register Now!
Upcoming Event 
The 2018 SIMCAC Holiday Reception
December 11th at Elizabeth's on L in Washington, D.C.

Join us for a casual reception, full of holiday cheer, delicious food and great company!  For the second straight year, we will be celebrating at Elizabeth’s on L.  It is one of the most stylish event venues in Washington’s downtown core.  This Federalist townhouse offers a graceful embracing setting, perfect for networking over drinks and a light dinner with your SIMCAC peers and colleagues.  As the home base to one of DC’s most distinguished caterers—The Catering Company of Washington—the food promises to be spectacular!

Register Now

Our holiday reception is a perfect opportunity to get to know your fellow SIMCAC members in a social setting, as well as being a great way to recruit eligible prospective members.  As such, we are asking (and strongly encouraging) all SIMCAC members to invite up to 2 eligible prospective members (directs, peers, or contacts) to be their guests.  If you have any question about membership eligibility, please check the membership criteria page on or reach out to any SIMCAC board member.


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