Meet Linh Lam, CIO at Jamf

Linh Lam

Linh is responsible for leading Jamf’s information technology and solutions while continuing to help the company grow. Linh joined Jamf in 2021 from ICE Mortgage Technology as their SVP & Chief Information Officer. She holds a BA degree from Stanford University and since then has worked her way up the ladder via various IT based roles, giving her decades of experience in the role.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current role

I have always had a passion for problem-solving and technology. After university, I started my career in consulting, a job that allowed me to explore both these areas at a fast pace. Over time, I also found myself drawn to people and culture, being interested in the driving forces behind teams and finding what made a company successful. I found that IT can give successful organisations an extra edge. By understanding the organisation’s people better, the most suitable technology can be put in place and help solve challenges.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I didn’t set out to be a CIO. Instead, I focused on looking for a career that allowed me to see operations from end to end and then solve problems arising from the existing technology in use. I’ve always been a very curious person. I was curious about technology, and I loved solving problems. At first, it was solving a small process for a function that led to solving operations for companies leveraging technology. It never was boring, and the next challenge was always more interesting.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Yes – unconscious bias being one. I am Asian, I am short, I look younger, so this was especially evident when I progressed to management roles quickly. I was running multi-million dollar global programs but was still being mistaken for a junior team member or spoken over. Diversity in thought and inclusion is so important, and I was fortunate to have strong allies who mentored me but also advocated for me throughout my career to help me overcome these challenges. With the tenure and position that I am in now, I want to make sure I am an ally for others as well.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My greatest career achievement has been driving digital transformation for a global company that directly impacted the experience of customers, partners, and employees. We engaged beyond our employees, connecting with customers and partners to hear what they valued about their digital interaction with the company. Our personalised experiences, which included automated backend support and operations, allowed us to increase customer satisfaction scores, reduce support volumes and grow to take on new customers and global partners.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Treating people as people first and foremost with kindness and respect. A trusted mentor of mine told me early on in my career, “it doesn’t cost you anything to be nice.” This has stuck with me. Everything is a team effort, but everyone is a person with their own stories, experiences, challenges and background, before they are a member of your team. For teams to be successful, there has to be trust. Always making sure that I lead with kindness and respect for those around me has been my North Star.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Information Technology is transformative and innovative. It has the ability to not just support a company, but to drive and enable it to function better. Above and beyond the traditional use of technology, IT can strive to appreciate business challenges and understand how technology can be so widely valuable.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

There are still barriers for women in tech. Only just over 20 percent of technology jobs are held by women. Over the years, many organisations have attempted to grow the number of women working in technology through different initiatives and programs; however, the current circumstances – exasperated by the pandemic – have worked against these attempts as the number of women in the industry continues to dip. In order to overcome these barriers, organisations need to focus on how they can recruit new talent, retain current talent and continue to recognise the important contributions that women make to their respective businesses.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

According to CBS, nearly three million women left the U.S labour force over the past year. As I previously mentioned, organisations need to retain and recognise the women on their teams. Many women run their households, alongside their paid job, and it’s time for organisations to recognise that work. Offering hybrid work options and flexible work hours beyond the standard 9 to 5 shows a commitment from the company that they want to help the women on their team succeed. Now is also a great time to formally review compensation and benefits schemes to evaluate for bias in organisational systems. Expand your employee benefits by offering competitive parental leave policies, child care support, flexible hours, and hybrid or remote work.

There are currently only 21 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

The answer is twofold for me:

  1. Awareness of the opportunities in tech for women at an early age. When girls are young, we need to expose them to science, technology and the fun career opportunities in tech, so they know it’s not just a possibility, it could be a reality.
  2. We need to ensure that careers in tech are conducive to women’s lifestyles. According to Time, 28% of women with kids under 18 in the household have temporarily or permanently left the workforce to become primary caregivers to children, compared to 10% of men. To attract more women to tech, we need to understand what we need to do to also better fit the requirements they may have in their personal lives that could be preventing them from being in the workforce.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

  • “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” by Carol Dweck
  • “Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals,” by Rachel Hollis
  • “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” by Sheryl Sandberg
  • “Now, Discover Your Strengths,” by Donald Clifton and Marcus Buckingham
  • “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” by Simon Sinek
  • A Call to Lead Podcast with Jennifer Morgan
  • Tilted: A Lean In Podcast
  • Weekly Podcasts from the Harvard Business Review’s IdeaCast
  • 3 in 30: Takeaways for Moms Podcast hosted by Rachel Nielson