Our Black in Tech series features the career path & advice from Black professionals in the tech industry. In this Q&A, Anderson Dinga - Sr. Manager, Office of the CIO - Change Readiness at LogMeIn shares his story.
VentureFizz: Where did you grow up and what were you like as a child? What did your parents do for work?
Anderson Dinga: I am originally from Cameroon in West Africa. I spent most of my childhood in Kumba, an affluent metropolitan city in the South West part of the country. Growing up, my aspirations changed from wanting to be the president to wanting to be a scientist as I was very good at math and sciences but struggled with the arts (history and literature). Outside of school, I had a few friends in the neighborhood who I hung out with occasionally since I was a bit of a nerd and did not have much time to socialize.
This was partly due to the fact that my parents wanted my 4 siblings and me to get the best education possible. They both worked in the medical industry, my dad as a medical researcher and my mom as a nurse. Out of desire and luck, my family was blessed with the opportunity to immigrate to the United States. For my parents, this meant they could finally leave the corrupt systems in place where I grew up, for us kids, it meant we could freely pursue our dreams in a country that we only knew from shows like Sesame Street and Cosby Show. My parents worked very hard to provide for us, for which I will be eternally grateful. I credit my work ethic and growth mindset to my family.
VF: Where did you go to college? What did you study and what did you do after graduating?
AD: I went to Boston University to pursue Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. I actually spent my first semester of college at the University of Massachusetts in Boston before transferring over to BU which offered many more options, including an affordable financial package and the engineering program I wanted. During my time in college, I took on a part time job at a venture capital firm as a research assistant. My boss at the time was the only IT person, so she taught me how to build, manage and troubleshoot everything from computers, scanners, Blackberries, Palm Pilots and a plethora of technologies. I got really good at translating anything super technical to versions that were ‘user friendly’. This also exposed me to my first experience with web development and computer programming.
VF: What inspired you to get into the tech industry?
AD: Technology is something I have always been passionate about, which I think comes from three places. First, both of my parents were in the medical industry. While I did not have much interest to pursue this field, it definitely influenced my decision to get into technology. For most African parents, a child is successful only if they pursue a career in medicine, law, government or engineering. Secondly, math and sciences were my strong suit. Since biology was a struggle, I chose to pursue engineering. Finally, when I got into IT, I realized that there was a huge gap between the software engineer and business/end-user. This created a huge opportunity to bridge this gap, and learn a great deal about innovative technologies and customer experience.
VF: What has your career path looked like in tech and the various positions you’ve held before joining LogMeIn?
AD: When I started at LogMeIn, I was a Sales Systems Specialist. I was brought in to support and drive the adoption of sales technologies like Salesforce CRM, InsideSales Click to Call and DocuSign. This gave me a lot of exposure to the SaaS industry and business process reporting and automation. Thereafter, I was promoted to a leadership role in our Corporate IT department. As the manager of enterprise-wide applications, I looked after three teams doing endpoint management, application engineering and IT communication. In my time in our IT department, I witnessed LogMeIn grow rapidly, both organically and through M&A. Change was everywhere, especially around technology. And so as of April, I took on a new role running a Change Readiness team for the newly formed Office of our CIO (OCIO).
VF: Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as a Senior Manager, Office of the CIO - Change Readiness at LogMeIn?
AD: My team consists of three functions: CIO Communications, Change Management and Business Relationship Management. All three functions make sure that change initiatives are executed as efficiently as possible. To achieve this, we focus on the people side of change and determine project success by the overall adoption or utilization of the change. For example, when I took on this new role in April, we were in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the first things my team was able to do was support the transition of all employees to remote work. This required collaborating closely with our internal IT and customer care teams to ensure that we were ready for questions or requests from employees or customers. This also involved launching a new knowledge site that would host all of the tips and tricks to adopt a work from home lifestyle. Today, we have a lot more change initiatives in the works.
VF: What has attributed to your success thus far and what types of obstacles have you had to overcome along the way as a Black professional?
AD: I’ll attribute a lot of my success to a powerful support system and good work ethic. Even as a kid, my parents always pushed me to work extra hard. I still remember them saying “you were not born with a silver spoon in your mouth.” So I developed this drive to always be learning, growing and teaching. That said, it has not always been easy. There are not a lot of black people in technology, so when I walk in a room, I unconsciously check myself. My friend thinks it’s just imposter syndrome, I think it is more than that. It used to be a source of insecurity for me, but I have grown to overcome it although the racial gap is something I still struggle with.
VF: What types of programs and initiatives does LogMeIn have that support diversity, equity, and inclusion?
AD: LogMeIn has three main ERG’s. [email protected] is our ERG empowering our female employees and allies. Our [email protected] group brings together a strong LGBTQIA+ community. And of course we have a black employee ERG ([email protected]) which has been quite active with the recent uptick we’ve seen in racial injustice in America. We’re thankful to our leaders and allies for their guidance and support and we navigate through these challenging times.
VF: What advice would you give to other Black professionals who are interested in joining the tech industry?
AD: Do it! Seriously. Take a look around you. Technology is everywhere. If you're reading this, you're probably using some form of technology. There is no shortage of opportunities for people who want to pursue a career in technology. The only limit is your imagination. If you're not sure what to do or how, find a mentor. If you can not find one, let's talk!
VF: While general awareness of the problem of diversity in the tech industry is a step forward, to make a lasting change, real actions need to be taken. Do you have any ideas or suggestions on what companies or employees can do to step up and make a difference?
AD: Good question. Education is very important. If you don't have someone close in your circle who you can ask, or who is knowledgeable, go online. It has been an extensive source of education on the breadth of the diversity problem. I use Statista.com but if you just search for Black in Tech on Google, you'll find a lot of good information.