Anh Selissen: Building Careers & Fostering Strong Relationships for TxDOT

Anh Selissen, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), is an authentic and passionate leader who exudes confidence and encourages others to remain true to themselves while growing their careers with the state of Texas.

Prior to joining TxDOT, Selissen held the position of deputy CIO at the Texas Comptroller's Office. She has extensive experience leading Enterprise IT Systems and staff in both the public and private sectors, and actively participates in various professional affiliations.

AnhSelissen_2024_Speaker_IndustryInsiderAs the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Selissen is responsible for managing the entire Information Technology (IT) infrastructure for TxDOT in Texas. Her role includes supervising day-to-day support for more than 13,000 TxDOT employees across the state, managing networking components, hardware and software intelligence for the transportation systems, operations and financial applications, data, traffic technology, and providing strategic direction. Despite her busy schedule, Selissen spoke with TPEA about how her essential role for the state of Texas has impacted her career and provided her with an opportunity to mentor others.

What do you enjoy most about leading TxDOT’s IT space as CIO, and why?

I am fortunate to receive exceptional support from an outstanding team with whom I have the privilege of working with. When I present a well-justified request, my leaders consistently offer their full support. The remarkable results delivered by the tremendous team I work with are a testament to our collective capabilities.

What was the moment you knew you had made the right decision to work here?

In the first six months of my time at TxDOT, I simultaneously faced the challenge of navigating COVID-19 and a ransomware attack. The initial 24 hours were overwhelming, and doubts started to creep in. Facing these two events was a completely new experience, and the weight of responsibility for such a large organization felt heavy. However, after collecting my thoughts, I reached out to TxDOT’s Executive Director, James Bass, to provide an update. In previous roles, I had dealt with high-pressure situations with minimal support. When I spoke to my manager, his first words were, "Congratulations!" Initially, I was puzzled, given the circumstances. But he calmly reassured me, saying, "While it's an unfortunate situation, I couldn’t have asked for a more capable person to get us through this situation. We will be alright, and you will get us through this." His words left me feeling motivated, supported, and uplifted. Within just 30 days, TxDOT was back up and running.

AnhSelissen_2021_SIM_IT_Exec_Year_AwardI work hard, and even though I know my capabilities, others may not always recognize them. However, here at TxDOT, surrounded by love, support, and faith from others, I am confident I made the right decision to work here. TxDOT is a great place to be, and I am committed to staying here, making a significant impact, and shaping this organization into one I can be proud of when I retire.

What is a common misconception about IT within TxDOT that you would like to clarify?

IMG_0625 (1)There is a widespread misconception that IT within TxDOT only supports day-to-day user needs for TxDOT employees. TxDOT plays a comprehensive role in all transportation-related matters for the entire state of Texas. As an IT organization, we have a strong and vital responsibility to keep everyone connected throughout Texas. Whether through our contractors or internal staff, we help the TxDOT engineering teams support all major enterprise systems on the road, from video cameras to incident management systems, networking components for traffic technology to broadband statewide for the agency, agency security and privacy, and so much more.

What was the best day in your career so far at TxDOT?

When an agency faces a disaster or business emergency, the Commission selects departments for the Great Resilience in Texas (GRIT) Award. AnhSelissen_2024_IT_Awards_Ceremony-1While IT was historically viewed negatively by TxDOT employees, we witnessed a significant shift after successfully navigating a Ransomware attack and delivering results for the agency. We proudly received the GRIT award for the first time in TxDOT history in 2020. This achievement marked a pivotal moment, not just because we received the GRIT award but also because it signaled our recognition as a valued organization within TxDOT. It validated that IT matters and that we are an indispensable part of the TxDOT Agency.  

What is unique about the TxDOT agency?

The culture of family is an integral part of everything we do here at TxDOT. No matter how large our organization has become, that unique part of our culture remains the same. Here, we take care of each other and have great relationships. Our leadership team continues to foster a culture of positivity every day. Currently, as I navigate through some health issues within the family, TxDOT has embraced me and reassured me of their support and care. This sense of togetherness will stay with me forever in my heart.

What are you most proud of at work?

02_AnhSelissen_2023_CIO_oftheYear_Award_Presentedby_IT_ Leadership_ForumI love what I do. My passion drives me to do the work I do each day and do it to my greatest ability. I take great pride in being a female leader. I've come to understand my significant impact on others in both the private and public spheres of my career; I am a mentor. My actions match my words, and I am proud of what I have built at TxDOT, the team I work with daily (I love my team!), the career I have achieved, and the difference I have made.

As immigrants from Vietnam, my family and I view this as an opportunity to repay the many opportunities we have had. My dedication to the State of Texas is unwavering.

Any last words you would like to share?

Historically, women have often struggled with confidence and self-doubt. It's crucial to believe in your actions so long as they are motivated by the desire to create a positive impact and do what is right. This passion will guide you. Treating everyone equally and respectfully is crucial. As you grow into leadership roles, or if you are already a leader, it is essential to remember that it's possible to be a direct and robust leader while still being respectful, kind, and authentic. Strive to be a role model in everything you do.

Anh Selissen and her team also host the Women in Government IT Leadership Workshop. The event was held at the JJ Pickle Research Campus-Commons Conference Center.  Keep them in mind for the next one!


Thank you for everything you do for the State of Texas!


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