7 Questions with Linda Calvin
Name: Linda Calvin
Current title: VP, School of IT
Current organisation: Ivy Tech Community College
Linda joined Ivy Tech Community College as Vice President of the School of Information Technology in April 2019. In her role, Linda provides professional leadership in the development of quality standards and consistency in academic courses, ensuring curriculum is relevant to industry, training, and other programs to serve the information technology sector. Linda partners with employers to sponsor School of IT activities, identify opportunities to recruit talent from the school of IT, coordinate internships, voice IT curriculum and consult on trends in technology and market demand.
Linda has over 20 years of experience working in IT in the private sector. Before joining Ivy Tech, Linda was the global Digital IT Leader for the Security business in Stanley Black & Decker, partnering with global businesses to deliver innovative digital solutions. Linda kicked off her IT career at Dow AgroSciences in 1993, now Corteva, working in Systems Support for the R&D and Commercial organizations. While at Dow AgroSciences, she held a number of roles in R&D, Manufacturing Operations and Policy Communications. From 2003-2013, Linda served as the global digital, mobile application & social media project leader, leading digital transformation in collaboration with IT, business, marketing, and agency/vendor teams. Linda worked closely with attorneys at Dow AgroSciences and Dow Chemical to architect data privacy and social media policies and train employees on CAN-SPAM and other tech regulations.
During her tenure at Dow AgroSciences, Linda earned her juris doctor and subsequently accepted a position with the Office of the Corporation Counsel for the City of Indianapolis as Assistant City Prosecutor. While working for the city, she regularly spoke on the topic of digital and social media in highly regulated environments for the Marion County and American Bar Associations.
Linda has served on the boards of the Indiana Youth Group (IYG) and Child Advocates. She is currently a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for Kid’s Voice of Indiana. Linda believes that career success requires mentorship and securing a personal board of directors. In 2018, she became a mentor for Pass the Torch for Women and she regularly mentors young women interested in entering the tech sector. Linda is a mentor for a 21st Century Scholar for the Starfish Initiative in 2019. Linda joined the board of Women & Hi Tech in July 2020 as director of the Executive Women’s Forum. She is also a member of the Technology Working Group for the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, the Indiana Technology & Innovation Association and is an advisory board member for The Guarden LLC. Linda graduated from Butler University in 2001, cum laude, with a BA in Journalism and high honors in Public Communication. In 2008, she earned her Juris Doctor from the Indiana University McKinney School of Law, Indianapolis. In 2016, Linda also became a Certified Scrum Master (CSM).
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Ensuring that everyone understands strategy and the priorities of the organization.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
My career began at DowElanco on a helpdesk. In 20 years with Dow, I traversed throughout the organization in IT, R&D, Public Affairs and Marketing. I earned my undergrad and my juris doctor during this time, applying my learning as I worked. I steadily involved myself in more internal and external organizations and continued to pursue learning to grow my knowledge and refine my personal brand.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My day typically starts at 9a. I'm in back-to-back Zoom meetings, although I have baked in 15 minute breaks. I hold my lunchtime every day and have asked people to avoid that time unless necessary. Most days, in this new COVID life, I try to end my day by 5p to walk dogs or have a mental break
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
It's critical to lean on your teams. Often as a leader, people look to you for all of the answers. However, you are only as smart as your team. I do not apologize for not having an answer, I lean in, understand the problem and determine who I can involve to answer. This is harder in this new Zoom world, but it can be done.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Algorithms of Oppression is a current book. It's impacting me as I must help my IT faculty understand how to inculcate this learning into curriculum. However, it's also helping me understand where my next educational pathway is: Race Studies and Digital. Understanding the digital divide, the ways in which we use tech and how we can impact hiring and retention in tech is critical. This book is making me think differently about using tech, but also in how I need to learn to make a difference in my role in the tech ecosystem.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Continuously learning, mentoring and reminding leaders that they do not "know everything." Critical to leadership is understanding how you are only as good as your team. Leaders who seek to learn from their organization, top down, bottom up and sideways, mentor and ask for mentors will grow other mentors.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
As a female leader in IT, I have endured bias and microaggressions. In my former role, I was suffering with impostor syndrome. No matter that I had a lot of experience and wins in my career, my environment was such that I began questioning my intelligence and capabilities. I sunk into depression and began withdrawing from the office to only work from home. I reached out to someone I trusted who I considered a mentor. She met with me and essentially interviewed me on my role, my experiences and education. At one point she said to me, "clearly, you are very qualified and your experience shows. Thus, this is not about your abilities, it's about your environment." She provided counsel on longevity in the role, timing for an exit and how to network and become more involved in organizations in the community to help me get through my time until I decided to leave. A win-win for me and community as this meant I was giving back but also connecting with others who valued me and observed my expertise and valued my contributions. It worked! I stayed the course in the role until I hit the "timing" that would not damage my resume. I felt more valued and I landed my VP position due to my experiences. Had I not reached out and worked with my mentor, I may have not found the role I have today or, I may have missed out on projects and experiences that contributed to my leadership role today. Thus, the moral is to have a mentor and take the relationship seriously. In fact, I urge others to have a personal board of directors, composed of individuals who can coach you, mentor you and sponsor you.