Chief information officer finds joy in profession by playing to her strengths

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Through working in a variety of career fields and organizations, Dewberry CIO Lisa Roger, MBA ’20, discovered the tasks and responsibilities that she enjoys most, leading her to the peak of her industry.

Lisa Roger’s career has taken a winding road on the way to becoming a preeminent and award-winning executive. From programming to being a sign language interpreter, Roger learned everything she could from seemingly unrelated jobs and in the process found the kind of work that brings her joy. Many of these lessons she has shared to readers through her published book The Joy Factor: Escaping Job Disappointment and Finding Your Dream Career. She believes that by identifying and leveraging personal strengths, an individual can continuously grow and have a much more fulfilling career. “If you’re looking at a very specific career path when you get started, you will probably be disappointed,” she says. “It’s important to design your own path as you discover what brings you joy.”

Lisa Roger, School of Business alum and CIO at Dewberry
Lisa Roger

Roger has been at the Fairfax-based civil engineering firm Dewberry for more than five years, currently serving as the chief information officer (CIO). “CIO is a unique C-suite position because you have visibility into everything – every operational function you touch,” she says. “When done right, you can be an effective partner in making the entire organization better and more prosperous.” As suggested by her previous occupations, it wasn’t a position she always had in mind. But by learning what she was gifted at, it was a career path that formed along the way. “What I tell audiences and mentees is articulated in The Joy Factor, that it’s really about taking those elements of whatever you’re doing in life and growing those parts that bring you joy,” she says. “Whatever your next role or opportunity is, make sure you’re getting more joy and less of what you don’t want.”

As demonstrated by her position as chairwoman-elect for the Women in Business Initiative (WIBI) at George Mason University’s School of Business, Roger is an ardent supporter of women in business and STEM fields. “I’m passionate about making sure our next generation is equipped to handle the challenges and keep up with the rest of the world,” she says. Through the mentorship and fundraising efforts of WIBI, Roger is directly impacting that generation of future leaders. “My hope is to leverage the wonderful work done by previous chairs to expand WIBI membership so we can increase support for our endowment, reaching more women and young professionals early in their careers when they are facing tough challenges,” she says.

“Whatever your next role or opportunity is, make sure you’re getting more joy and less of what you don’t want.”

Having been nominated by her peers for a third year in a row, Roger received the coveted Capital CIO of the Year Orbie Award in 2022. “CIOs across the nation evaluate nominees to determine who wins, so it’s a wonderful recognition,” she says. In many ways, the award validates the path that Roger took to ultimately become CIO at Dewberry. While she was learning from the various jobs she held, she also continued her formal education inside the classroom, including earning her MBA from Mason in 2020. Utilizing her role as WIBI’s chair-elect among her other positions, Lisa Roger is eager to help prepare business students in order to transform their own lives and strengthen the workforce for the foreseeable future.