A Standout Female
Chatelle Lynch is senior vice president and chief human resources officer at McAfee. She oversees compensation, benefits, rewards and recognition, human resources systems, human resources services, and workforce intelligence, along with learning, development, and talent.
Chatelle joined McAfee in 2005, later helping it evolve during its time as a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel, until today: an independent $3BN global IT security software company with 7,500+ employees worldwide.
As a senior HR executive, Chatelle has played a pivotal role in achieving strategic alignment to recruit, retain, and develop the best talent in the industry. She is passionate about driving diversity in the workplace and speaks often on the topic at industry events. She is also a frequent media commentator on diversity, online safety for kids, the cyber security skills shortage and more.
In 2017, Chatelle was named 'Chief Human Resources Officer of the Year' at the 2017 Stevie Awards for Great Employers, her team was also named 'HR Department of the Year' in the same awards.
Interview with Chatelle Lynch, Chief Human Resources Officer for McAfee
Question: What brings you back to Australia?
Chatelle Lynch: I'm here to talk about an incredibly important topic: diversity. We have a role to play in advancing diversity – in all shapes and forms. And I feel fortunate to be here at a time when we're celebrating a momentous event with Australians loudly voicing their support to legalise same-sex marriage for the LGBT community. I couldn't be prouder of my fellow Australians and can't wait to see this become a reality.
Question: What do you hope to achieve with talk at the MPower Sydney 'Women in Cybersecurity' event?
Chatelle Lynch: Education and exposure. Not enough young girls are choosing to learn and develop a career in STEM. We have only 11% of women in cybersecurity today. And that's not right. A lot of this comes down to exposure and role modelling. As the mother of boys and girls, I recognize the importance of exposing all my children to as many possibilities as I can. Why shouldn't my daughters dream of being an astronaut or a scientist just as much as my boys?
You'd be surprised at how early their views and understanding on STEM starts. From the toys for two-year old children that are designed for a specific gender and teach spatial logic, to the role models we expose kids to at seven or eight. It all shapes their views on what they're good at and what they -could' be when they grow up.
And while we're working to fuel the future talent pool, we still need to educate organizations and individuals about the power of diversity. Diversity does amazing things to our brain. When you interact and work with people who are different than yourself, your brain tells you that this person may not think like you - and here's the good bit - this makes you work harder, smarter and to think more creatively to strengthen your opinions and arguments. And who doesn't want that?!
Question: What do you miss about Australia?
Chatelle Lynch: First and foremost, I miss my family and friends. The familiarity. The culture. The sport. The food. The beaches. Honestly, I miss everything about Australia. Australia is home, always has been, always will be to me. I'm so proud of my heritage and to be Australian.
Question: How do you not only oversee 8,000 employees but also have five children?
Chatelle Lynch: Becoming a mother has made me a better leader. And while this might not be true for all women, I can share my own experience and what I've learnt along the way. For one, having five children teaches you the value of patience. I'm also far more empathetic. And my negotiating powers have increased ten-fold since having twins!
When you truly love your job and what you do though, it helps of course. I'm intrinsically motivated to be the best I can be. As a HR leader, I also feel a personal responsibility for our thousands of employees worldwide to make sure they're engaged, motivated, happy and achieving the same job satisfaction that I am.
But of course, I also have hard days. Like everyone else. I know all too well what it's like to feel that there's not enough of me to go around. I feel stretched, I feel overwhelmed, I feel mummy's guilt. If there is a working mother out there that hasn't felt this way at some stage then I would like their number! I think the more we admit our challenges and the reality of working mothers' lives, the less pressure we'll all feel to -get it right'.
I would like other working mothers to know it's okay to admit that it's not always perfect. Sometimes I walk in the door after a 12-hour day and as much as I love my kids, all I want to do is have a few minutes to myself. But as soon as my key turns in the door and I take my first step into the house, it's like a surprise party. You can feel their excitement. I'm greeted by what can sometimes feel like a million tiny hands as they get to work on reclaiming their mummy. Taking my work bag, taking my phone, taking my jacket off, grappling for a spare hand to lead me into the next room to show me their school project or the Lego castle they've built.
And while it can feel tough sometimes, they also give me my energy and make me feel more balanced and walking through the door to my own surprise party makes me smile every time. So as tired as I might be, that's when I turn on mummy mode: I listen to their stories from school, I get them their dinner or desserts, I make their lunch for the next day, I read them a book and walk my happy, content children to bed.
Question: What advice do you have for working mothers?
Chatelle Lynch: You are doing an amazing job and no one is harder on you, than you! One thing I know to be true is to love what you do. If you're going to balance your career with motherhood, make sure that your work is fulfilling. I honestly love my job. I have passion and drive for what I get to do every day. I get to work in an industry and for a company whose core mission is to protect the world from cyber threats. I work with some of the smartest people in the world. The knowledge I learn from our Chief Technology Officer and from other cyber professionals I get to take home to my kids and not only am I educating them, but for now at least, they think I'm pretty cool protecting the world form cyber bad guys!
Question: What's it like being so successful in a male-dominated workspace? I have had a few moments in my career where I realise we still have a long way to go in shifting perceptions. One was on a recent flight. The flight was full with many people returning home after a busy week of meetings so space for hand luggage was limited. The flight attendant called over the intercom that the bulky carrier bags belonging to all the businessmen might need to be checked. I looked around to see any other faces of indignation – the flight attendant assumed all the business bags, belonged to business men. Of course no one else found this strange. And while this was an innocent mistake, it shows how much work we need to do to shift these types of assumptions based on business stereotypes.
Question: How do you hope to encourage girls to think about careers in technology?
Chatelle Lynch: Exposure, exposure, exposure. Role modelling is also a key part of this. We need to show young girls, what does it look like to be a data scientist, an engineer, or an IT analyst. They need to be able to identify with other females and imagine themselves in a similar role when they're an adult. So, we need to do more to promote these career paths, detail how these females got there, and why they love their jobs and what they do every day, to hopefully inspire future generations.
Question: What are you doing to manage the culture change across the global scale?
Chatelle Lynch: We have a number of programs and initiatives in place to try and drive change globally. Here's just a few of them:
• Female quotas in the candidate pool and interview process. For APAC this is, on average, two female candidates per job opportunity that make it to interview stage. We've mapped the available talent pool against the roles at McAfee to make sure if the market supports it, we have the female candidates in the recruitment process
• Diversity in the Interview Panel. For all our job roles, we require at least one female to be included in the interview panel that makes the decision on the candidate.
Fueling the Talent Pipeline:
• McAfee Explorers Program: This is a new program launching this summer in Australia (and in other locations globally) where children aged 11-18 spend a few days per quarter at McAfee for training, job shadowing and development opportunities. The children are matched with a McAfee cyber professional and gain real-world experience that shows them what an education in STEM could lead to.
• McAfee's Online Safety for Kids: this volunteer-run program has been up and running for several years and it's designed to educate and inspire kids from all over the world, at every age to learn about online safety. To date, we have educated more than 500,000 children globally.
• Intern Programs: this year we've had more than 100 interns from both high schools and colleges undertaking summer internships at McAfee and we actively make sure we have a 50-50 split of females and males.
Question: How can other employers promote diversity in the workplace?
Chatelle Lynch: One of the simplest, but most effective ways is to set up and support employee-run community groups. We have six at McAfee that are centred on driving awareness and support for these communities: LGBT, African American, Women in Security, Veterans, Differently-Abled and a Latino group.
Our Women in Security community now has over 1,000 active members and it's designed to engage and support the growth, empowerment and success of professional women within the broader company. Employees worldwide contribute in sharing their own personal career stories, or organizing career development events, creating support and mentor networks and more. The important part of running a community though is sharing much of the activity with the wider company. So we make sure to support the women in these groups who are maybe recognized with industry awards, or we stream some of the talks to the whole company. While we have 1,000 active members, the community is open to everyone and it's great to see men attending and participating too.
Question: Can you share with us, a typical day, for you?
Chatelle Lynch: Every day is a little different. But I can tell you my days usually start pretty early! I make dates with my children to make sure we have 1:1 quality time. My oldest son likes to play basketball and so we often do practice at 5.30am for 45 mins or an hour before the rest of the house wakes up. I then will usually have a pretty chaotic, typical household morning, trying to get all the kids fed and dressed; my three-year old twin girls love to wriggle away from me just as I need to get their hair done. Then we're all off to school or daycare, playgroups, whatever is that happening that day. And then I'm off to work.
My office hours are usually filled with meetings and conference calls. It could be a meeting with the board for progress reports, or I could be meeting with my HR team to work through priorities and actions. But as I'm also the executive sponsor for our Women in Security group, I could also find myself participating in say a panel event or a TED style talk with a group of future women leaders.
I try and make the most of my journey to and from work and will often use that time to catch up with colleagues I may have missed during the day.
Once home, it's back to mum mode before the kids head up to bed! And usually, my husband and I aren't too far behind them after a long day. Before I switch off for the night though I usually can't help checking emails. Especially in a global role, it's easy for things to get lost if I don't stay on top if it and check in regularly. Then it's light out, ready to do it all again the next day. And I wouldn't have it any other way!
Question: What's next, for you?
Chatelle Lynch: This year has been a big one for McAfee as we've stood up an independent company. Next year, we'll really see us get into our stride and I'm excited about what the future holds. For me, my passion and drive to advance diversity isn't slowing down, and I can't wait to see some of our newer programs, like McAfee Explorers, really take off.
Interview by Brooke Hunter