Nikki Gregory – Class of 1980
IT Director of Technology, City of Statesville, NC

In today’s modern world, everything runs on technology, and those who help to keep our towns and cities operating at their best provide a great service to our society. Nikki Gregory is one of those people. Since 2015, she has worked as the IT Director of Technology for the City of Statesville, NC.

“The IT Department consists of several divisions,” Nikki explains, “specifically Networking and Support, Utility Billing, and Graphical Information Systems. We support the network hardware, workstations, phone systems, and Enterprise software for over 500 employees as they serve our citizens. I report directly to the City Manager, who serves at the pleasure and direction of the Elected Officials. I enjoy using technology to make processes more efficient and easier for our employees to serve the Citizens. I also enjoy the wide variety of projects that I am involved in daily.

“When I graduated from East Burke in 1980, careers for women in Math and Science fields were limited to primarily teaching, a noble profession but not the career path I was looking for. Fortunately, I entered college as computers were evolving from scientific applications to business and personal uses. A whole new world opened as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software matured to help organizations automate and manage core business processes, creating many career opportunities for IT professionals. I caught the crest of this wave but found my niche as a Public Servant.”

Every career has its challenges and rewards, and a career in technology is certainly no exception. “There are many challenges, which is part of the draw of the profession. It requires problem solving skills and thinking outside the box. Those are my favorite parts – finding solutions. The largest challenges currently are security issues – ransomware and data protection. The rewards are improving efficiencies and data accuracy to enable data-driven decisions to benefit our customers, the Citizens of Statesville.

“My first job in IT was at Impact Furniture in the Business Office for the summer between high school graduation and leaving for college. It was a trial position working with their ‘new’ IBM System 32. (Anyone watch the movie ‘Hidden Figures’?) My job was to come in at 4 am, put a new box of greenbar paper to finish printing and distribute the nightly orders and reports, restart the IBM System 32, and call the Navy time clock to set the date and time accurately, since mainframes at that time did not have the ability to roll over from one day to the next. That allowed the office staff and plant production team to be productive as soon as they reported to work. The ‘trial’ was a complete success, since bringing in a minimum wage person to get the system and orders ready for the day was more efficient than their previous method. I was hooked. Now, 42 years later, I still get great job satisfaction when I’m able to help a process be more efficient or accurate for our users and citizens. I’ve worked in private and public sector positions, performing this service in all of them.”

Nikki graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1984 with a BS in Mathematical Sciences with a Concentration in Operations Research and Systems Analysis. In 2005, she was in the inaugural class of Certified Government Chief Information Officers offered by the School of Government, and which has now evolved into a National Certification.

“My ‘mentor” at East Burke High School would have been Mrs. Lucille Bond, the math teacher. During high school, my strength was obviously in the math fields, but the applied mathematical sciences were just beginning. I was unsure of what I wanted to do with them. Mrs. Bond was a great resource and encouraged me to keep searching until I found the career I really wanted and not to settle for anything less. The best advice ever! My advisor at UNC-CH, Dr. Ancel C. Mewborne (I’ll never forget him!) picked up the baton, encouraging me and meeting with me one-on-one when multi-variate calculus and I didn’t see eye-to-eye. Like Mrs. Bond, he was my constant supporter and teacher, who refused to allow me to give up. Teachers like these create the future, and I cannot be thankful enough. Very possibly, these two people are part of the reason that I prefer the ‘servant’ role of the public sector.

“Oddly enough, as I reach the end of my working career, I have some projects I’d like to complete and make ready for the next generations. I’ve always had a tongue-in-cheek goal of being a librarian like my grandmother, Irene Tucker. They won’t page me in the middle of the night. Books don’t crash, and I’ve never seen one get ransomware. You can travel to different times and anywhere in the universe imaginable. But if the opportunity arises to be a Mrs. Bond or a Dr. Mewborne to someone else, I will be excited to have paid it forward.

Published November 2022

Home Page