Christy Wyatt comes from a family of builders. Early on, she discovered a love for the process of building, creating, and problem-solving. It took her some time, but she eventually discovered a passion for computer science and programming because it allowed her to do exactly that — build something new.
"I could build products, I could build software. It was a creative process, an intellectually stimulating one," Wyatt said. "I'd get lost in a problem and you could wake me up two days later. Folks would tell me I had entire conversations in the meantime, but I wouldn't remember."
Wyatt is the CEO of Good Technology, a mobile security solutions provider that assists organizations, governments, and businesses around the world in securing their mobile devices and the data on them.
Though she has held positions at many large tech companies throughout her career, Wyatt said the main focus of her work has always been people.
"I tend to get exposed to really brilliant people, and innovative products, and I sort of fall in love and go 'yeah, I want to go do that," she said.
Wyatt held leadership roles at Sun Microsystems, JavaSoft and ESRI, directed OS licensing at Palm, served as Worldwide Developer Relations Director at Apple, and was vice president and general manager for Motorola Mobility's Enterprise Business Unit.
Almost two years ago, right before she came to Good, Wyatt was the head of Citi's Consumer eBusiness and Mobile Technology unit. The company was a customer of Good, and Good had approached her before when they were looking for a new CEO. Once she started using the software and understood its potential, she had a revelation about the importance of mobile security.
"If you're comfortable with the platform and allow data on mobile devices, imagine all the different apps that could dramatically change how you did business, all because you could trust. You could trust that your data would be okay on these devices," she said.
Throughout the past year at Good, Wyatt has made some big changes to pricing, UI, and the backend software. Soon, the company will launch a new software release after it revamps the platform in a few big ways, including pricing and subscription plans.
As exciting as those types of projects are for Wyatt, she said she loves seeing the growth of her customers, with whom she speaks to multiple times a day. Helping famous retailers, federal governments, and big banks, which had never before trusted mobility or only trusted "clunky Blackberries for their senior execs," create their own apps and innovate with their data is something that inspires her.
"They're changing the way they're building airplanes, managing healthcare, running insurance processes, getting secured apps to the end customer. All of this is possible because they have a way to trust the data, and that's a very cool thing," she said.
Good operates in 190 countries, so Wyatt has to maintain a global vision. According to Wyatt, the most important aspect of leadership is to think big, and in advance. When she sees that the team she leads has the ability to succeed, she gets fired up. She likes to work with every member, moving through each layer of the process — from the builders and engineers, to the marketing department, to her fellow high-level executives.
That respect for collaboration is why she always asks potential new hires what their specific contribution to a team was. It is also why she asks at what points along the road they experienced friction, when they stumbled, and what pitfalls they experienced.
"It's not about how big the mistake was. It's how big the learning was," Wyatt said.
To cope with all these experiences — the mistakes, the stumbles, the successes — Wyatt has always relied on advice someone gave her early on: Never run from something, but always run to something.
"If you're going to make a decision, a change, if you're going to build something, or hire someone, begin with understanding what it is you're moving towards as opposed to moving away from. You make all sorts of mistakes if you're only focused on the rearview mirror," she said.
In her own words...
What are your hobbies?
"I'm a big outdoor person. I'm Canadian, so it's all about the skiing, the hockey. Here in California I like to go for runs, go hiking. I have a one-year-old at home, so right now all of my off time is chasing him around. I have three children — a 17-year-old, 13-year-old, and the baby. Usually for Christmas and in the summer, we head back up to Canada, go on the lake, go skiing, see the family."
Who is your favorite hockey team?
"It's got to be the San Jose Sharks. I can say that openly now. When I was younger I had to pretend to be a Canucks fan, my family was Canadian!"
What is your perfect weekend?
"For me, a fantastic Sunday is the farmer's market in the morning and cooking dinner for the family and having friends over. And not getting on an airplane."
How much do you travel?
"I travel quite a lot. We operate in 190 countries, we have customers all over the world. We are constantly circling the globe. Last week I was at the World Economic Forum. For the first time we were asked to speak on cybersecurity. Generally my trips are not that much fun — it's six cities in four days."
Lyndsey Gilpin has nothing to disclose. She doesn't hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Lyndsey Gilpin is a former Staff Writer for TechRepublic, covering sustainability and entrepreneurship. She's co-author of the book Follow the Geeks.