It would be easy to describe Jeffrey Wann's professional history as binary, between the pillars of pastoring and information technology — binary like computer systems' data code language of zeroes and ones — but Wann's career has not been by the numbers.
"I rolled up my sleeves and started programming," Wann said of when he as pastor convinced his church to spend $13,000 to purchase a Macintosh XL computer, when that was a cutting-edge product.
Wann has been on the job a little more than a month as Missouri government's chief information officer, leading the Office of Administration's Information Technology Services Division — which has almost 1,000 IT workers who "support the IT systems and services used by 14 executive departments and three statewide elected officials in their daily operations," according to an OA news release.
When he got to coding on Apple's Macintosh XL, he ultimately wrote programs for other churches, then for denominational uses, then businesses — he ended up being bi-vocational, Wann said.
That led him to switch to a full-time programming career in 1992, when he joined a St. Louis company. That led to becoming a development coordinator, then consulting work and then being a technical editor for product instruction manuals — the latter being "almost like getting a master's degree every quarter."
He later led seminars and product roll-outs for Microsoft Corp. and ultimately became chief technology officer for the Federal Reserve in St. Louis.
His career took him to the IRS, then into insurance.
He was previously the vice president of information technology at Illinois Mutual Insurance, and he also doubled as chief information officer and chief information security officer, according to the OA.
In terms of his education, Wann had transferred from the pre-medicine program at Ohio University to graduate in 1979 from Central Bible College in Springfield.
Like Central Bible College's status in history — closed for years after being consolidated with Evangel University and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary — the Macintosh XL is a relic of 1980s technology, a far cry from the contemporary server farm in the Harry S. Truman Building.
At the time when Wann was pastor of an Assemblies of God church, though, he noticed a lot of time was being spent on manually maintaining records on ledger sheets, and he thought a computer could help.
He was not new to technology then. His father held 33 patents, and Wann said of himself that "I've always been incredibly curious from a technology standpoint," having done some programming in high school and college.
Being a pastor did not run in his family — "that was all on me." He's still an ordained minister and active in church.
He and wife Kathleen, who have been married 41 years, have eight children — one boy and seven girls, four being biologically their own and four of the girls being sisters who were adopted together.
Born in Bonne Terre, Wann lives in Taos and enjoys trout fishing.
At age 63, being the OA's ITSD leader is Wann's first state government job. He started Jan. 16.
He's still learning his way around, literally, in the maze of hallways and cubicle-walled corners of the Truman Building, but he considers it a great honor and privilege to serve his home state. He said his favorite part of the job is the people he works with — "they come to work wanting to do a good job," he said.
It's his job to get them the resources they need and to work on developing one- and three-year plans for the division's future.
"The future of IT surrounds data," he said — making government services more efficient and easier for people to quickly access, use and share information.
He would like to develop "smart systems" that help citizens get their easily-answered questions addressed, leaving more challenging questions for human staff.
With his youngest child in fifth grade, Wann said he plans to stick around for a while yet in his career.