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Q&A With Clara Conti, VP & GM of Red Hat North America Public Sector

Clara Conti, vice president and general manager of Red Hat’s North America Public Sector as well as a 2022 Wash100 Award winner, recently took part in a Q&A session with GovCon Wire to discuss her background in the public sector market and how it led to her appointment with Red Hat.

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Conti also discussed why she wanted to join Red Hat, the opportunities coming for government agencies in the next five years as well as future goals for Red Hat’s 2022 performance.

“I have dedicated my career to serving the public sector, and I am excited to take on this new role and align my passion for the public sector with Red Hat’s open source innovation engine to help governments improve the lives of its citizens.”

You can read the full Q&A session with Clara Conti below:

GovCon Wire: Tell us more about your background and your work in the public sector.

Clara Conti: “For more than 25 years, I have been on the front lines of building technology companies and I started my career by founding my own company, Aurora Enterprise Solutions. Along the way, I have been fortunate to serve as CEO of ObjectVideo, IPIX, and OnDialog.

My first crossover with Red Hat was when I served as the leader of the sales and growth of IBM’s Global Business Services Public Sector,  where I focused on negotiating deals and identifying growth opportunities across the public sector.

Most recently, I served as general manager at Presidio Federal, where I focused on cultivating new business opportunities and further expanding Presidio’s presence in the federal space.

I have dedicated my career to serving the public sector, and I am excited to take on this new role and align my passion for the public sector with Red Hat’s open source innovation engine to help governments improve the lives of its citizens.”

GovCon Wire: What drew you to Red Hat?

Clara Conti: “What drew me to Red Hat is the technology, processes and the people.

(Technology) Open source is the innovation engine for today’s and tomorrow’s technologies. Red Hat Enterprise Linux is the de facto reference implementation for enterprise Linux.

OpenShift is the leading enterprise Kubernetes platform that adds technologies that make it easier to build, deploy, and manage container-based apps in the government enterprise. Ansible is the automation platform that ties together hybrid cloud environments, freeing teams to focus less on menial work and more on higher-level improved service delivery.

(Process) Open Organization. It was only recently I realized my entire leadership philosophy for the past two decades has been aligned with Red Hat. After reading The Open Organization by former Red Hat president and CEO Jim Whitehurst I knew I could contribute to the growth of Red Hat’s Public Sector team in a meaningful way.

(People) Most importantly, I joined because of the people. They are truly the physical

embodiment of The Open Organization. They are passionate about customer success, and they are true partners who internally advocate for our customers instead of transactional vendors.

We bridge the gap between government requirements and open source communities to make sure that the technologies we develop are ready for government use.”

GovCon Wire: What do you view as the top tech challenges/opportunities for government agencies over the next 3-5 years?

Clara Conti: “Open source artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) at the edge – I see the confluence of all these technologies taking off next year. Over the past couple of years, AI and ML have advanced tremendously, often thanks to the elasticity of public clouds and GPU-enabled supercomputing.

In these cases, the data are collected and then sent off to the cloud or HPC data center for analysis. These models work well for workloads where you have the time to collect and transfer all that data to the cloud, but they aren’t as effective when you want to do real-time decision making.

The next frontier is doing the analysis and decision making where the data are generated — at the edge. By moving the computing to where the data is, you can gain insight faster — possibly instantaneously. This unlocks the ability to potentially solve problems that were considered impractical or even impossible.

And this is where open source standards play a key role. If you build your AI and ML models using open source in the cloud, you can deploy these models at the edge with little to no rework. Open source AI and ML at the edge can make not only the impossible possible but they make the impossible possible faster.”

GovCon Wire: What do you hope to accomplish in the coming months as you take on your new role?

Clara Conti: “We are experiencing a very unique time within the public sector with the enormous amount of funding coming to IT companies with the $100 billion infrastructure bill, IT Modernization initiatives, and the executive order on cybersecurity.

The time is now for the industry to take advantage of this wave and start combatting the challenges that the pandemic has escalated across organizations with technology.

For many of those challenges, I see open source technology as being the engine of innovation to help propel governments to get there. Whether it’s the public or private sector, I believe we are stronger than ever when we work together.

In my first few months, I will invest my time and energy into bettering our current and future ecosystem partnerships to best help our government customers meet challenges ahead.”

About Clara Conti

Clara brings more than 25 years of experience to Red Hat with specific expertise in leading entrepreneurial startups, mid-size and global corporations to substantial market growth in the technology industry.

Throughout her career, Clara has proven her ability to lead transformational change, increase market share, unify stakeholders, and deliver growth in key metrics and is already doing so in her first few months at Red Hat.

In her new role, Clara works closely with government customers to meet their missions with open hybrid cloud technologies. We sat down with Clara as she steps into her new role to learn more about her and what she’s excited about as she continues to settle into her role as the vice president and general manager of Red Hat’s North America Public Sector team.

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