TONI TOWNES WHITLEY Microsoft

Daniel Diasgranados

Toni Townes-Whitley

President of US Regulated Industries, Microsoft

Toni Townes-Whitley made her mark on Microsoft’s $15 billion public-sector business when she helped the company land the Pentagon’s hotly contested $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud-computing contract.

That contract alone is transforming how federal agencies use the cloud.

But Townes-Whitley's transformational influence on the enterprise-technology industry expanded more than could be expected this year as the coronavirus crisis forced massive changes on the other Microsoft customers she oversees: regulated industries like education, healthcare, and financial services, all of which have had to adopt cloud-computing technologies at lightning speed.

“COVID-19 has fast-tracked this modern cloud-technology adoption at speeds that are unprecedented in the history of our nation,” Townes-Whitley tells Business Insider.

Those organizations, she says, are turning to Microsoft to migrate away from physical data centers, adopt collaboration tools, and deploy virtual desktops. But across both regulated industries and the public sector, there is still a lot of work to be done.

“Relying on digital technology and data has proved to be a necessity — not a luxury — for government during this time,” Townes-Whitley tells Business Insider. “Restarting economies successfully will be a defining moment for government leaders.”