Leadership Voices

Igniting Agency Innovation with Positivity, Passion and Hybrid Cloud

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Igniting Agency
Innovation

with Positivity, Passion
and Hybrid Cloud

Clara Conti

Vice President and General Manager, 

Public Sector, Red Hat

Clara Conti arrived at Red Hat with a mission to bring her over 25 years of experience leading organizational transformation to Red Hat’s public sector.

But Red Hat isn’t just any tech company. What stands out for Conti, who serves as vice president and general manager for public sector at Red Hat, isn’t just the technological capabilities but the company’s culture. It’s what drew her to Red Hat long into a varied career that included working in big tech, owning a small business and contracting as a CEO for hire.

“The enthusiasm and the positivity that Red Hatters have is contagious,” says Conti. “It is by far the most unique and uplifting company that I’ve ever been with, and I love every minute of it. The energy our employees bring is something that ignites a lot of passion, goodwill and excitement with our customers.”

Conti started with Red Hat in late 2021, a critical time for hybrid cloud advancement as the pandemic accelerates needs for a wider range of capabilities. She has since worked to spearhead new advances in open hybrid cloud offerings, a big part of the company’s ongoing legacy as a top developer of open source technologies.

Moving operations to the cloud allows organizations to outsource management of the technology infrastructure that runs their applications. It also provides an environment for deploying artificial intelligence and machine learning, which can automate rote tasks as well as predict issues across systems, thereby limiting outages and downtime. Red Hat’s open source model allows for ongoing community improvements as anyone can view, modify or distribute the code as they see fit.

“The enthusiasm and the positivity that Red Hatters have is contagious. It is by far the most unique and uplifting company that I’ve ever been with, and I love every minute of it. The energy our employees bring is something that ignites a lot of passion, goodwill and excitement with our customers.”

— Clara Conti, Vice President and General Manager, Public Sector, Red Hat

According to Conti, open hybrid cloud is the understanding that to extract the most value from cloud, cloud applications and cloud partners and providers, multiple must be leveraged. 

“Whether it be because of your mission, class or simply because of where your preferred vendor decided to build their application, you’re going to be utilizing and likely building workloads in disparate clouds,” she says.

That’s where Red Hat’s open hybrid cloud approach can come in to facilitate connections and bring to bear the flexibility, speed, stability and scale required for business digital transformation, Conti says.

Open source communities and open standards are “the lifeblood of interoperability,” she adds, and they’ve historically been huge drivers of innovation in the technology industry, having spawned advances in AI, machine learning and other next-generation technologies.

The wrinkle in all of this is that each cloud provider has developed their own standards and toolings, features and functionality on top of those open technologies. So the way something is done in cloud A may be completely different in cloud B, Conti says. 

“That’s where Red Hat’s hybrid cloud strategy comes into play,” she adds. “For agencies looking to maximize their investment in cloud, using an open source technology like those provided by Red Hat just makes sense.”

“Whether it be because of your mission, class or simply because of where your preferred vendor decided to build their application, you’re going to be utilizing and likely building workloads in disparate clouds.”

— Clara Conti, Vice President and General Manager, Public Sector, Red Hat

Red Hat and the Proverbial North Star

Red Hat has worked with government agencies on major transformations since its founding nearly 30 years ago. Back then, the company was helping organizations migrate from expensive proprietary Unix systems to Commodity X86 hardware, while adapting to new technology paradigms. Whether it’s early web technologies or large database infrastructure, Red Hat was helping to ensure its customers had more choices in their data center, Conti explains. That work continued as agencies stepped into the world of virtualization and early cloud adoption with technologies like Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat middleware.  “Today, Red Hat’s OpenShift platform is one of the most mature implementations of Kubernetes available for customers looking to implement a full, agile DevSecOps strategy in their agency whether those workloads are destined to live in their data center, the cloud or both,” she adds. For Conti, Red Hat’s proverbial North Star is supporting customers’ missions – and it’s what drives her and her team to help government agencies leverage AI, ML, zero trust security frameworks and other leading approaches. “The ability of the government to deliver on its commitments to our uniformed personnel as well as the needs of the people of our country is where I’m looking for Red Hat to make that impact,” Conti says.

“The ability of the government to deliver on its commitments to our uniformed personnel as well as the needs of the people of our country is where I’m looking for Red Hat to make that impact.”

— Clara Conti, Vice President and General Manager, Public Sector, Red Hat

Small Biz and New Biz

Twenty-five years ago, Conti left New York for Washington, D.C., where she immediately noticed buildings for large, high-tech companies erected all down the toll road leading into the nation’s capital. “And I thought, ‘This is the place I need to be,’” Conti recalls. Conti began her career as a program manager at Science Applications International Corp., but soon left to start her own company focused on information security technology. That company was sold in 1999, and Conti found work for many years as a CEO for hire where she helped companies navigate transformations and successfully prepare for their next phase. “I ran public and private companies and most recently was with IBM running their sales and growth team and was recruited to come to Red Hat to help with their transformation in public sector – which is what brings me here today,” Conti says. Conti’s experience helped refine her decision-making process and be able to help companies clearly navigate a path forward. She learned quickly which steps are required to transform an organization. “I grew my leadership skills as well,” she says. “I started off shaky just as would any young professional who was immediately put into CEO/leadership roles, and over the years, I refined my approach to leadership with a lot more grace and a lot more understanding of what it takes to move organizations ahead and help others along the way.” Today, she is most proud of helping long-term government customers meet their missions and serve their clients well, and  appreciates the trust they have placed in Red Hat.  “It’s something we as a company have built over the past couple of decades in working with our customers,” she says. “It’s extremely rewarding to hear the stories of what we have done for them in the past and how they want to work with us. They know we can help them move into the future.” Learn more about how RedHat is helping to move cloud innovation forward for government.

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