ITLA Course Descriptions

What Is ITLA?

The Information Technology Leadership Academy is a seven month program for state IT professionals with a focus on developing leadership skills.

Participants in the academy are selected from state agencies and departments that work in information technology programs. Individuals with a vision for enterprise-wide thinking, strong potential for career advancement, and experience carrying out their organization’s mission and vision are ideal candidates for acceptance into this program.

The classes listed below are general course descriptions of IT Leadership Academy course content and subject matter. Specific classes may vary from year to year.

General Course Descriptions

Leadership Foundations and Team Building

This interactive, 1.5 day course is designed to provide an in-depth overview of critical leadership principles and how students can successfully incorporate them into their careers. Through various activities, discussion, and reflection, students will learn the practices of exemplary leadership, its inherent challenges, and techniques for ensuring long term success.  Students will also be able to identify their personal leadership styles and recognize other such styles in order to better communicate with staff, peers and their management teams.

Using Your Brain to Win: The Human Factor (1-day course)

This engaging, 1-day course explores the lens through which we see the world and how/why we behave the way we do. Using an interactive, fun approach, the course addresses why so often there is miscommunication, misdirection, and missed opportunities in the workplace and how to avoid these pitfalls as leaders. Through emphasizing the importance of how our brains impact the way we see the world and workplace situations within, students learn tools for better engaging and understanding their staff and being more impactful leaders as a result.

Business Communications (2-day course)

Using the VanWrite method, this 2-day course consists of both lecture and hands-on student practice using VanWrite’s “sentence aerobics” concept to improve clarity. By emphasizing the importance of active listening/thinking and mind mapping, students eliminate wordiness, passive voice, and weak verbs in their writing. Included as part of the class is a subscription to VanWrite’s Sentence Aerobics Editing Software.

Executive Presentations (1-day course, 10 students per class)

Providing students with a small classroom experience, this course focuses on strengthening students’ skills in speech preparation in delivery. Participants are required to develop a short presentation prior to class and present the material in several components. This is filmed each time for review. Through these presentations and immediate feedback received from the instructor and their peers, students see their progress, improve their skill set, and become more confident, polished speakers.

Management Perspective and the Budget Process (2.5-day course)

This course covers the numerous variables involved in the state budget process, including the overall framework, the key decision-makers and how to appeal to them, and how to successfully present in front of a budget committee. Using a combination of lecture, discussion, group exercises, and a lively simulation experience as a culminating activity, students gain a better understanding of this complex and often misunderstood process.

Organizational Change Management

This informative seminar provides a high level overview of the key components for OCM. Students will learn why and when it’s needed, common reasons for staff resistance, and various ways managers can help employees both understand and even embrace change.


Why Security Matters (half-day course)

This course focuses on key issues related to security and how/why they matter to IT professionals specifically. Topics include major factors involved in security incidents, the importance of “due care,” and what students can do to avoid security breaches within their own organizations. The course concludes with a simulation activity to reinforce class concepts.

What Makes a Good CIO? (half-day course)

Too often, technical managers struggle with letting go of their backgrounds and taking on a business-based frame of mind. This course helps students recognize how to “deliver IT without fuss” to make a strong impact on their organization and prepare themselves for the executive level. Through lecture, discussion, and an engaging simulation activity to reinforce class concepts, students learn how to approach IT challenges from a business perspective and communicate these challenges more effectively.

Executive Interview Skills (half-day course)

This course discusses the qualities executives seek in their team members and provides tips and suggestions for interpreting/navigating common interview questions. Through student practice, analysis, and discussion, students gain insight into how to successfully prepare for an interview at the executive level.

Walk Like a Leader

One of the most popular and valuable components of the Academy, the Walk Like a Leader experience provides students with the opportunity to shadow a leader within the state’s executive community. Students are paired with their leader for an entire day and see firsthand what a “day in the life” entails. Typical activities include attending executive meetings with vendors, sponsors, and business partners; observing strategy sessions, negotiations, and even budget discussions/hearings; and gaining insight/advice from their leaders. It is a rare networking opportunity that allows students to witness both the challenges and rewards of executive leadership.

CIO Academy (2 days)

This invitation-only event brings together the C-level community unlike any other conference. Developed by and for government, the California CIO Academy is designed to address the most important policy, management and leadership issues surrounding the future of digital government and the role of the public sector CIO in the State of California. A valuable learning/networking opportunity, ITLA students are not only required to attend this event, but are also paired with Academy speakers to help develop material and assist during breakout sessions.

Class Project (ongoing throughout Program)

All ITLA students must participate in the completion of a class project which addresses a significant IT issue that will have a positive and lasting impact on state government. The project focus and parameters are determined by ITLA Class Sponsors and overseen by ITLA Class Managers. Students must work together cooperatively to complete this project throughout their time in the Academy and present their results/final product to an executive audience for approval.

Political Skills (half-day course)

This critical course focuses on providing students with techniques for navigating through the politics of any organization. Through personal experiences and lessons learned, the instructor(s) discuss the importance of learning the culture, being aware of the leadership styles of an organization, knowing and understanding the politics of decision making, and how to accomplish these often difficult tasks.

How To Apply

Notification will go out to State of CA AIOs and CIOs when the next application period opens and information will also be posted here.  For questions or further information contact Office of Professional Development at