With Mehdi Ghomeshi’s retirement at the end of January, California’s state government is losing a top-tier manager who succeeded in the simplest of ways – he did well by doing good.
Mehdi, deputy director in charge of the Business Operation and Solutions Division (BOSD) at the Department of FI$Cal for the past 3 1/2 years, believes in a basic philosophy of management.
“I’ve always focused on the job and getting it done, with the understanding that to accomplish that is to work with my team,” he says. “The most important resources are the people you work with.”
“I’m a true believer in owning the responsibility and holding myself and my team accountable. I knew that if I took care of my people and provided the support, tools and resources they need, they would take care of me. I treat people how they want to be treated, not necessarily how I want to be treated.”
Mehdi employed that philosophy wherever he went. His career began with a long stint at Caltrans, starting in late 1985. In 1990 he transferred to Southern California and became a right of way agent, where he led a team that changed a government code to allow them to expedite the acquisition of parcels and easements by paying property owners on the spot.
He was forever looking for challenges.
“I always pushed myself to do better and to get to the next level,” he says. “I wanted to expand my horizons and get out of my comfort zone. That’s why I changed from accounting and finance to information technology.”
In 2002, Mehdi joined the EFIS – (ERP Financial Information System) project at Caltrans to replace the department’s legacy financial system and more than 100 shadow and auxiliary subsystems throughout the department. This marked the start of his transition from finance to IT.
By 2007, that change was official: He passed the PMP (Project Management Professional) exam and left Caltrans for a promotion at the Department of Social Services (DSS) as a Project Oversight Manager and changed classification to IT as Senior ISA (Information System Analyst).
In September 2009, he left DSS for a promotion at the Employment Development Department (EDD) to manage the Enterprise Project Management Office with a portfolio of 15 projects. Mehdi left EDD for another promotion at the California Department of Technology in 2012, went to the High Speed Rail Authority in 2013 as the Chief Information Officer and then returned to CDT in April 2015. Finally, he joined FI$Cal in May 2016.
Soon after, with the blessing and support of the executives, he established the On-Site Support Office, dedicated to providing support for departments with their month-end and year-end close activities. Mehdi’s BOSD teams were instrumental in onboarding more than 100 departments in releases 2016, 2017 and 2018 while adding and refining functionality and providing daily transactional, educational and training to system users.
BOSD created user support labs (USL) in October 2017, which have been hugely successful in helping users by inviting them to bring their work into our offices to work out problems. In FY 2018/2019 alone, FI$Cal provided more than 750 USL sessions.
As he goes off into retirement, Mehdi looks forward to some well-earned time to enjoy with his family. And he wants to travel.
“My wife and I have a bucket list of places we want to go,” he said, rattling off Eastern Europe, Asia (China and Japan) and South America.
We wish all the best to a great manager and one of the truly good guys.