Transitioning from an administrative role to a tech company CEO may seem like an unattainable goal—especially for a woman in a male-dominated field. But Tina Lux-Boim, the co-founder, president, and CEO of Managed Maintenance, did just that.
Early in her career, Lux-Boim worked for IT reseller Champion Solutions Group, where she recognized a business opportunity with IBM, and pitched a new solution to the CEO. Soon she was running her own business unit, which led to more than $30 million in revenue within six years.
In 2007, Lux-Boim founded Managed Maintenance, a company that offers tech providers including IBM the tools to effectively manage customer data around hardware and software assets, and associated maintenance and support.
SEE: IT jobs 2018: Hiring priorities, growth areas, and strategies to fill open roles (Tech Pro Research)
Managed Maintenance has continued to grow year over year in revenue and profitability, emerging as a preeminent Software as a Service (SaaS) provider of maintenance and support services.
Here are four lessons Lux-Boim learned along her career journey:
1. Timing is everything.
When she created a new solution at Champion Solutions Group, "I happened to be at the right place at the right time, and I was asking questions of people I knew in the company, and it led me into a career that I never had even trained for," Lux-Boim said.
2. Try new things and don't be afraid to fail
"We were breaking a bunch of rules, and we weren't afraid," Lux-Boim said of her time at Champion Solutions Group. "Sometimes not knowing so much was to our benefit, because sometimes, the more you know can paralyze you. The less you know, you go more with a free spirit into trying new ventures, building new things, and procuring new customers."
3. Delegate, and trust your team
Company leaders—particularly women—face a challenge in feeling that they must know the job of everyone who works for them in order to effectively manage them. "Very painfully and slowly over several years, I've learned that that's not the case—you need to be a good leader first, and make sure you surround yourself with very good people, because you can't know everything," Lux-Boim said.
Even if you don't have software development skills, you can trust in your own leadership skills to guide those doing the job.
SEE: The state of women in computer science: An investigative report (TechRepublic cover story)
4. Be prepared to be in the minority
"Because tech is not an industry I trained for, I didn't know when I got into it how male-dominated it was," Lux-Boim said. "You need to be prepared for that, and that you can be seen very differently based on your gender in the workplace and the industry."
Female leaders often must walk a line in terms of their demeanor: Being commanding can be seen as harsh, while addressing a problem can be seen as whining, Lux-Boim said.
Addressing this requires preparation, she added. "I very seldomly will go into a meeting or a call without knowing 100% and having real conviction of what I'm speaking about, because I think that allows me to minimize the emotion with how I speak, and maximize the impact of my credibility," Lux-Boim said.
And despite so many stories of sexual harassment in tech and other industries hitting headlines, women should not be deterred from entering the field, with its many job opportunities and strong compensation packages.
"Women pursuing these careers now is extremely important for the generations to follow," Lux-Boim said. "Unfortunately the way we've set it up today, the perception is from the time girls are very young that they are not mathematically inclined. And the truth of the matter is, there's a whole lot of opportunity within technology that doesn't need you to be a coder or a developer."
- Closing the tech gender gap: How women can negotiate a higher salary (TechRepublic)
- CIO leadership: Two role models (who happen to be women) (ZDNet)
- Can these tech tools fight gender bias and increase workplace diversity? (TechRepublic)
- Solve for XX (CNET)
- Sexual harassment policy (Tech Pro Research)
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.