To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th, this week we will be bringing you a series of guest blogs from leading senior females in Technology. They will be discussing their success, career-defining moments and what advice they would give to another female looking to pursue a similar career. This is what May Lam, Chief Information Officer at Assembly Payments had to say.
Profile: May is the Chief Information Officer at Assembly Payments responsible for leading the end to end Technology function. May has 20 years of combined experience in banking and financial services, public sectors, management consulting and technology services industries in Australia, Greater China and Asia Pacific regions. She has been accountable for a spectrum of multi-disciplinary functions in technology, managed services, finance, risk and sales for organisations including Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, Citigroup, HSBC, Bank of China, Bank of East Asia, Unisys, Fuji Xerox, Fujitsu and NSW Roads and Maritime Services.
May holds a Bachelor of Science (Information Systems) and Master of Commerce degrees from the University of New South Wales. May's personal mantra is "Have a grateful heart; dare to compete and pay if forward - there's more to life than just thriving for your own success - Be a Service to others!"
What would be the key things that allowed you to get to where you are today and what do you attribute your success to?
I attribute my success to "People" Having started my career as a developer, my manager was very hands off. This experience made me decide what kind of leader I wanted to be early on. For me I attribute my success to people, seeing people grow and develop is the most rewarding thing in my career, working with individuals to realise their potential has been key understanding where they are coming from and why. As a leader you have an opportunity to really change people's lives, you can't underestimate the impact you have when you believe in someone and take a chance on them and my experience has been people tend to rise to the challenge and go the extra mile.
‘Generosity is not about giving people what they want but it is giving them time’
Have there been any career-defining moments?
I have always been ambitious and at 29 I became an Enterprise Architect, back then I aspired to be CIO one day. Throughout my career, I have always surrounded myself with a trusted advisory circle that I can turn to for different advice on my future and carer. I tend to have different role models that are able to give me a different perspective. My dad has always been a key role model for me he is incredibly entrepreneurial, brings a can-do attitude and made me realise life is a journey. Having always looked forward in my career my advisory circle were able to highlight that my strengths back then were very much my technical skills and my areas of development were people management and commercial acumen. Having highlighted this as a gap I actually had a career change and moved into a finance role to develop this skill set before I moved back into Technology.
What advice would you give to other females looking to pursue a career in Technology?
I always like to start solving a challenge by understanding why then unbundling the context. First of all, don't be intimated by the word Technology nor the overall female representation in the industry. To unbundle what is Technology, I'd like to borrow the definition from Wikipedia: Technology is the collection of techniques, skills, methods and processes used in the production of good or services or in the accomplishment of objectives. The top 3 attributes for anyone to learn, grow and specialise in this industry are problem solving, critical thinking and curiosity. This applies to most of us. The why is simple - we are living in a digital era and we have to accept that this will not be a nominal incremental change. This is no longer a job or to stay relevant, but a social responsibility that someone in each generation has to continuously leverage the disruptive technology to make our world a better place. This someone is You! My advice is to take the first step by knowing yourself not only who you are but more importantly who you are not. Seeking your own purpose, i.e. the centre of what you love, what you are good at, what you can be paid for and what the world needs, then amplify it by putting people first and don't be afraid to set scary goals. "If your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough" - Muhammad Ali
Why should more females be choosing technology?
Technology is here and it's our future, change is the norm. Not only to stay relevant but also to serve our social responsibility you really need to get involved in technology. Any new innovation should be here to serve the entire humankind, hence we need the same representation of the population champion the Technology professional to design the experiences that cater to everyone. Females can bring another level of resilience and curiosity to a problem and have different life experiences and perspectives. Female under-representation in Technology industry is a global phenomenon and we need to encourage and stimulate young girls' interests in technology by creating more role models. This is your time to become the role model!
Join in on the conversation on Twitter for this years' International Women's Day using the hashtag #BalanceforBetter