CIO Spotlight: Linh Lam, Jamf

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? “An environment where team members are curious and open to new perspectives and ideas makes for a great culture.”

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Jamf

Name: Linh Lam

Company: Jamf

Job title: Chief Information Officer

Date started current role: September 2021

Location: San Francisco, USA

Lam is responsible for leading Jamf’s information technology and solutions while continuing help the company grow. Lam joins Jamf from ICE Mortgage Technology as their SVP & Chief Information Office. Prior to ICE Mortgage Technology, Lam was an information technology leader at Hitachi Data Systems where she led large-scale, global customer relationship management and digital experience transformations that supported the company’s transition from a hardware to cloud software and solutions company.

What was your first job? When I was 15, I worked in retail, in a shopping mall. I spent all the paychecks I earned from that job to buy clothes from the retailer I worked for.

Did you always want to work in IT? I didn't start with the goal of being a CIO. I set out for a career in the technology sector that allowed me to see the operation from end to end, and then solve problems that arose, which my CIO position allows me to do.

What was your education? Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I have a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.

Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss. I’ve always been drawn to problem solving and technology so, after I graduated from university, I started in consulting as it afforded me the opportunity to explore both areas at a very fast pace. With more experience, I found myself also drawn to people and culture, interested in what drives teams and what makes an organisation successful. I discovered that although IT enables successful organisations, to solve the complex challenges they face, you have to be able to understand people and what technology best suits them.

What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organisation in the coming year? As the world continues to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, technology to enable hybrid workplaces and virtual collaboration will be critical for most businesses. The hybrid workplace will look very different to pre-COVID conditions, so we have to invest in the right areas to enable our teams to have the best experience. Investment in automation and security to scale our operations as we continue to grow is also going to be an important area of focus for us this year and beyond.

What are the CEO's top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT? Scaling our organisation for growth in a global, hybrid work environment is our biggest priority. Jamf is a high-growth company that is powered by its amazing employees so understanding their needs and providing them with the right resources and technology to succeed is always IT’s imperative. As we enter 2022, some of our strategic initiatives include automation of operations, so we can better enable our customers buying and support experience, enhancement of our virtual collaboration capabilities, and continued integrations to bring our global workforce together safely.

Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include? The CIO role is unique in the organisation as it has the role of overseeing all aspects from start to finish, following the buyer’s journey from buying to support, the employee experience from hire to retire and everything in between. A successful IT organisation must understand and continually enable and transform these experiences. Traditional responsibilities of assisting with back-end infrastructure and supporting employee devices and connectivity are staples for all CIOs, but increasingly, you see CIOs driving digital and operational transformations because of the breadth of coverage and delivery.

Are you leading a digital transformation? If so, does it emphasise customer experience and revenue growth or operational efficiency? If both, how do you balance the two? Digital transformations are driven by enabling great customer experiences while progressing operational automation and optimisation. As businesses grow, their products and go-to-market strategies evolve rapidly with a customer focus. Often their back-end operations and supporting systems do not get the same attention, something that is needed in order to scale with a company’s evolution. So, while our focus is enabling a great customer experience, the automation and scalability required to support this experience remain as guiding principles. 

Describe the maturity of your digital business. For example, do you have KPIs to quantify the value of IT? As businesses grow and evolve, their operations and delivery capabilities across people, processes, and technology, will continue to mature to drive success. When introducing new technology or capabilities into an organisation, we must think ahead in terms of scale. For example, if we doubled in size, would this solution scale with us, or would it require more investment? At Jamf, we laid a strong digital foundation that has served our employees, customers, and partners well in providing best-in-class solutions while managing Apple enterprise devices that will continue to scale as we enhance our services and capabilities.

What does good culture fit look like in your organisation? How do you cultivate it? An environment where team members are curious and open to new perspectives and ideas makes for a great culture. Innovation and excellence come from teams with diverse thoughts and willingness to embrace and adopt positive changes. We foster an environment where strategic concepts and directions are provided, but the “how” things are achieved are open for our amazing teams to own, define and drive.  

What roles or skills are you finding (or anticipate to be) the most difficult to fill? Most companies are removing geographical barriers when it comes to hiring. Companies that exclusively hired staff local to their physical offices previously are now much more open to appointing remote workers in this new virtual environment. This allows them to select from a larger pool of talented prospective employees that would not have been accessible otherwise. While this is exciting, it is also leading to more competition for top talent, regardless of skillset. What I’ve found is that the biggest challenge in hiring isn’t necessarily finding the right technical skillset, but in finding the right team and cultural fit. Especially in a virtual environment, ensuring that team dynamics and culture are healthy and thriving is crucial.

What's the best career advice you ever received? Even when things are heated and stressful, it doesn’t cost anything to be nice.

Do you have a succession plan? If so, discuss the importance of and challenges with training up high-performing staff. A leader is only as good as his or her team and there is data to support the assertion that employees generally leave their jobs due to their managers/leaders. Therefore, it’s important to understand the performance goals that team members have for themselves and provide them with the opportunities to achieve them. There may not always be obvious or apparent opportunities for progression for these employees, so it is the challenge of a leader to work with our team members to shape them.

What advice would you give to aspiring IT leaders? Information technology is transformative and innovative, it doesn’t only support companies; it drives and enables them. Beyond the technology, strive to understand business challenges and value delivered by the technology.

What has been your greatest career achievement? My greatest career achievement has been driving a digital transformation for a global company that directly impacted customers, partners, and employees’ experiences. Under my guidance, the organisation reached beyond our employees, engaging with customers and partners to understand what they valued in their digital experience with our company. Learning from this, we delivered personalised experiences that also supported automated back-end support and operations behind the scenes. This led to increased customer satisfaction scores, reduction in support volumes, as well as allowing us to scale up and take on new customers and partners globally.

Looking back with 20:20 hindsight, what would you have done differently? I’m a firm believer that our past experiences influence and shape our decisions for the future. Therefore, I wouldn’t change the past as it’s afforded me the opportunity to be where I am today, but I hope I continue to learn from it as I grow, and my perspective evolves.

What are you reading now? My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Going There by Katie Couric.

Most people don't know that I… can’t cook, but I can make an incredible sandwich!

In my spare time, I like to… Binge-watch dramas - I’m currently watching Succession on HBO.

Ask me to do anything but… Grocery shop. I will forget the items I need and end up buying a bunch of stuff I don’t need.