Dr. William (Bill) Rials is the Associate Director and Professor of Practice of the Tulane University School of Professional Advancement Information Technology Program, where he focuses on continually delivering and updating the program curriculum based on innovative and emerging technologies. In addition to the responsibilities of running the program, Dr. Rials is also a Professor of Practice and a Distinguished Faculty Member where he teaches innovative technology undergraduate and graduate classes.
Dr. Rials is a nationally recognized subject matter expert on information technology. He has had a career as an IT executive with broad experience delivering value to government, academic, and business partners through the innovative use of technology.
He has served as the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for a law enforcement agency, and during this tenure, he was appointed the local government cybersecurity liaison for the MS-ISAC and U.S. Department of Homeland security efforts for government cybersecurity safety. During this role, he was selected as a committee member to develop national cyber exercise guidelines for the National Center for Internet Security, resulting in him helping to conduct a nationwide cybersecurity exercise involving 12 state government, four federal agencies, and private sector infrastructure organizations in the MS-ISAC headquarters in Albany, NY.
In 2006, he was appointed as Director of Technology and Chief Information Officer (CIO) for local government operations ranging from law enforcement, court systems, tax collections, land records, voter registrations, and other government functions. During this tenure, he implemented innovative technology solutions that not only improved efficiency but also reduced the budget. Dr. Rials was a pioneer in technology virtualization where he implemented virtualization in every piece of the legacy infrastructure. These efforts led him to be credited with first public safety agency in the nation to successfully implement a full virtual desktop deployment in an entire fleet of 100+ emergency vehicles.
In 2011, Dr. Rials joined the MS State Guard and completed Officers Candidate School conducted by the MS Military Department. His military service included working with the National Guard Assistant Chief of Staff (ACoS) G6 Office performing cybersecurity analysis and training for staff as well can a commander for a military police company. He was awarded the emergency service medal by the Adjutant General (TAG) of the MS National Guard for his service in leading the MP company that was in charge of the joint force headquarters security detail during hurricane Isaac in 2012.
Dr. Rials discovered his passion for teaching and higher education when he started instructing as an adjunct professor for Tulane University in 2012. He has taught many technology classes both on-ground and online helping hundreds of students reach their goals. One of his most proud achievements was being awarded the Distinguished Faculty Member Award in 2016. Recently joining the Tulane University School of Professional Advancement as an assistant program director and professor of practice, he is passionate and focused on utilizing his skills and experience to help aspiring IT professionals reach their potential.
In 2012, Dr. Rials became the Cybersecurity Operations Manager for the MS Department of Information Technology Services, where he created the state’s first continuous vulnerability management program as well as the state’s first cybersecurity exercise. In 2014, he was promoted to the senior manager of state data center infrastructure and cloud operations teams. Later, he was promoted into the state’s Chief Enterprise Architect (CEA) role where he implemented statewide policies and strategy. In this role, he crafted the blueprints for the state’s first hybrid cloud strategy and served as chair of the statewide Chief Information Officers (CIO) council. His government technology leadership was recognized in 2015 when he was elected Vice-President of the National Association of State Technology Directors (NASTD) southern region; he was later asked to serve as president in 2016. In 2017, he was given an award as one of the top 50 IT government professionals in the Nation by States Scoop magazine. Additionally, he continues to serve as the principal consultant and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for a technology managed service company specializing in delivering cloud solutions to small businesses.
Dr. Rials holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Belhaven University, a master's degree in computer information systems from Missouri State University as well as a Ph.D. in higher education administration and public administration from Jackson State University. His dissertation research involved the critical factors that affect the adoption of cloud services in the public sector. He has presented his dissertation at many national conferences including the NASTD annual conference in Big Sky, Montana and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers conference in Washington, DC. Recently, he presented and led a discussion on embracing shadow IT in the digital era at the Center Digital Government, Digital Performance Institute CIO conference in Milwaukee, WI. He has given numerous presentations and served as an expert panelist in many technology conferences across the nation.
Dr. Rials is a pioneering member of the NASCIO technology multi-sourcing workgroup founded to propose a new CIO management methodology and theoretical framework around CIO as a Broker of technology services. This work has resulted in two publications, CIO as Broker: A New Model, and The State CIO Top Ten: Why It’s More Than a List in 2018.
Additionally, he is a life-long New Orleans Saints fan and enjoys being in the Superdome screaming with the rest of the WhoDat nation on football Sundays.
What are your favorite activities when you are not working?
I am a lifelong New Orleans Saints fan and enjoys being in the Superdome screaming with the rest of the WhoDat nation on football Sundays.
Additionally, I enjoy physical fitness, martial arts, and boxing.
What advice would you give to someone who's considering finishing their degree, or starting for the first time as an adult?
As a first generation college student and graduate, my entire collegiate experience has been as a working adult. My best advice is to focus on perseverance in keeping the endgame in mind at all times. The seemingly never-ending readings, quizzes, assignments, papers, and exams can overwhelming when balancing with other life responsibilities. By keeping the long-range goal always as your objective, the assignment, test, or class is only the next step in achieving your ultimate goals.
As a working adult, I always advise students to attempt to combine work and class projects. In the Tulane SoPA Applied Computing and Technology Program, all of the coursework is designed with the real world in mind. Successful students find ways to bridge the class learning into their workplace. This not only helps with the overall understanding of the class but keeps the materials relevant, while increasing their motivation to continue into the next class to apply and learn even more.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
Don’t sweat the small stuff and focus on the big picture.