C-suite career advice: Abbey Lin, Crayon – IDG Connect

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Name: Abbey Lin
Company: Crayon
Job Title: Chief ESG & Integrity Officer
Location: Oslo, Norway
Abbey Lin is the Chief ESG & Integrity Officer of Crayon, responsible for Global Risk, Compliance & Environmental, Social, & Governance (ESG) strategy and implementation. She is an independent member of the Executive Management Team, reporting directly to the Chairman of the Board. Lin has 15 years of international ethics and compliance experience, most recently coming from Microsoft, supporting global, regional, and local compliance activities within the sales and marketing subsidiaries. Prior to Microsoft, she was the Head of Compliance and Business Integrity at KMPG Norway. In addition, Lin was integral in the launching of the initial Ethics and Compliance program, as well as the first Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reporting, to over 50 countries at Yara International, one of Norway’s largest companies. In addition to compliance, Lin has a passion for responsible AI. She is the founder of Ethical AI Resources, a co-founder and board member of Oslo.AI, and a board member of Visualyst an AI start up.
What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received? How to present to your audience. Different personality types need different ways of presenting in order to make your message land. Don’t assume how you like to receive information (or process information) is the same for everybody. 
What was the worst piece of business advice that you received? Stay in a stable job that pays well, even if you aren’t able to make the impact you want. 
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in IT/tech? Meet deadlines, create clarity, and try to anticipate the next step needed to progress in a project/deliverable. 
Did you always want to work in IT/tech? Not always but later in my career I wanted to be closer to my roots.  I grew up in Silicon Valley, my dad was a computer programmer. Many of my friends and old classmates work in the industry. I missed the pace and environment. 
What was your first job in IT/tech? Summer internship before UCLA at a small tech company. 
What are some common misconceptions about working in IT/tech? It’s fast paced and you are working on cutting edge things. That can be true, but it can also be very bureaucratic and slow paced in some large organisations. 
What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position? Get a mentor or executive coach to understand potential roadblocks. Understanding what got you recognised before might not help you get further. Be okay with changing the way you work. Strategy and stakeholder management vs individual project delivery becomes more important as you go up, so make sure you work on your soft skills.
What are your career ambitions and have you reached them yet? I’m very happy in my current role. Not sure of my ambition level yet but throughout my career when my learning slows, I usually start looking for my next growth opportunity. 
Do you have a good work life balance in your current role? Yes, for the most part given the flexibility of the tech sector. But I do have 3 young kids so not sure if I will ever be truly balanced. 
What, if anything, would you change about the route your career path has taken? I wouldn’t change anything as hindsight is 2020, but I think I would have been more effective in my earlier roles if I learned about the importance of networking or stakeholder management earlier on in my career. 
Which would you recommend: A coding bootcamp or a computer science degree? There is no right answer. It’s a personal preference depending on your financial situation, time, availability and whether or not you are early or later on in your career.
How important are specific certifications? I think it’s more important earlier in your career to stand out from the crowd, less so later on in your career. 
What are the three skills or abilities you look for in prospective candidates? Proactive, strategic with the ability to execute and deliver on time. Good communication skills are a plus. 
What would put you off of a candidate? Not catching the cues of the interviewer and ploughing through their goals & demands before sharing how they can add value to a role. 
What are the most common mistakes made by candidates in an interview? How can those mistakes be avoided? Not being prepared for the case study portion of the interview because the first interview went so well. 
Do you think it is better to have technical or business skills – or a mix of both? Depends on the role but both are important. That said the most effective technical people I know can explain the business rationale behind what they are trying to do, build and/or sell. 
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