Lynne Chamberlain, Vice President, Business Development, Public Sector, Red Hat
A 13-year veteran of Red Hat, Lynne Chamberlain offers up a Judy Garland quote when asked to give advice to women who are just starting out in the tech sector: “Always be a first rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” That outlook has taken her to the top of Red Hat’s federal and state/local/education business lines, with a focus on federal system integrators. It’s a job that takes strategic thinking and commitment, “allocating the right resources and following existing programs to closure,” she says.
Can you talk about the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? How did you conquer that challenge?
Like many women who have been in the IT market for 20-plus years, it would be rare not to have encountered the “Good Old Boys Network.” This happened to me on two such occasions. My answer was to work harder, prove myself over and over again by winning and being the top performer in whatever organization I was in, and to not whine, but stand up for what was right and not shy away.
What/who inspired you to get into your field of work?
While I was in graduate school studying to work on Wall Street, I was assigned to audit a restaurant. I reached out to NCR for help. I really enjoyed working with their state-of-the-art computer cash registers. My mom said, “Why would you want to be in finance when working for a technology company is something you find passion in?” She was right. I never thought about technology until she made me open my eyes to what I really enjoyed … the rest is history.
Why is it important to you to empower women and other minorities to join more technical and technology-related fields?
After being in this field for over 20-plus years, I still see so few women. In reality, women are very strong at sales. By nature women are nurturing, supportive, and have compassion for their customers. In realizing these strengths, I’ve hired many women during my career, which, in turn has afforded me success. I believe young women and minority graduates need role models and people to coach them on taking a leap outside their comfort zone to look at technology roles, whether in sales or on the support side. The STEM programs are helping schools and universities to recognize this.