Fueling the Next Generation: A Conversation with Sue Gordon

2020 USGIF Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, the Honorable Sue Gordon, gives the 2020 Golden Ticket Winners advice on a career in GEOINT


In the face of unprecedented challenges, the Intelligence Community (IC) has continuously developed capabilities to understand those hardships and help determine the means to counter them. According to the Honorable Sue Gordon, recipient of the 2020 Arthur C. Lundahl-Thomas C. Finnie Lifetime Achievement Award, the IC’s perseverance through hard times gives her optimism for the future.

“I’m optimistic because I’ve seen the world face similar moments in our past when we had no idea what to do. And we figured it out,” said Gordon.

This is how Gordon began her discussion with the 2020 Golden Ticket Winners during USGIF’s GEOConnect Main Stage event. She offered the winners insight about their roles in the current and future state of the geospatial tradecraft.

“Creation is going to be your legacy. Evolution is wonderful, but we’re going to need a jump shift. And so, be ready for that. We’re going to have to create, not only in technology, but in society, business, and education,” Gordon said.

There’s a craft to innovation, according to Gordon, and its way bigger than just having an idea. It involves letting go of fixed points and delivering not just the what but the how. And moments of creation are fundamentally inclusive, as shown in the film Hidden Figures, Gordon said, when three black women used their unique capability to put man on the moon. “If you have a solution, if you bring something, in these moments, you will have a place,” she said. “So, be as big as the moment.”

She also advised the ticket winners to be good at something and then get better every day. To have a craft, something you deliver, is really important, she said. But you must also be purposeful.

“You don’t want frenetic activity to be your hallmark. You want it to be delivering something at pace,” Gordon said.

Furthermore, Gordon counseled the ticket winners to remember they have a responsibility to their fellow humans to help them achieve their aims.

“One of the things I always say is practice the words ‘help’ and ‘use.’ What can I help and what can I use,” Gordon said. “Don’t be an island. Don’t hold on too tight to your stuff, be part of a community and go forward. Know that you’re a part of something bigger, and finally, be kind to one another.”

Featured Image: The Honorable Sue Gordon met with the 2019 Golden Ticket Winners at the 2019 GEOINT Symposium

USGIF continues its mission to bring thought leadership, cutting-edge technological presentations, key insights for decision-making, and educational and professional development opportunities to the entire geospatial intelligence, trade, and academic community. The GEOConnect Series is an accelerated outcome from USGIF’s strategic plan to go digital. The GEOConnect Series features multi-session virtual events such as live-streamed or recorded panels, podcasts, webinars, training, a virtual exhibit showcase, and more.

Learn more about The GEOConnect Series.

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