CIO World IWD Series – Rising Through The Ranks

VP and CIO of Johnson Controls Asia Pacific 

Kennas Lam, the Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Johnson Controls Asia Pacific, is a leading figure in the building industry. With over 20 years of management consultancy and technology experience, she has created a digital transformation roadmap for Johnson Controls that focuses on making the company more customer-centric and agile. With her visionary approach to digital technology, she is paving the way for the future of work and human interaction in the industry.

As a female leader in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Kennas has faced numerous challenges throughout her career. However, her perseverance and determination have allowed her to rise through the ranks to become an IT VP responsible for overseeing the APAC market. In this interview, Kennas shares her experience as a female leader, the challenges she faced, and the tips she has learned for overcoming them.

Kennas is also driving initiatives to make buildings smarter, more sustainable, and better connected through the innovative use of technology. She has played a key role in improving the technology landscape at Johnson Controls, and in this interview, she shares insights into how these initiatives are making a difference in the industry. Join us as we delve into the inspiring career journey and vision of Kennas Lam.

CIO World Asia spoke with Kennas Lam about women in the technological industry.

Rising Through The Ranks of Johnson Controls Asia Pacific

Kennas Lam began their career in banking and finance, but transitioning to the technology field was a challenging endeavor. Due to the lack of background in computer science or IT, Kennas faced a steep learning curve to catch up with their colleagues. However, with the support of her employers and colleagues, she was able to excel and advance in their career. Kennas’s guiding principle throughout her professional journey has been to always act with good intentions and be purpose-driven. Kennas was focused on achieving positive outcomes for their team and organization as a whole.

Obstacles Faced in a Male-Dominated Industry

In comparison to when Kennas first joined the workforce, there is now more equity. Looking back on her early career, she felt the need to prove herself constantly because of biases she faced regarding their qualifications, experience, and capabilities. She also experienced instances where their viewpoints were not given the same importance as others. Despite these challenges, she was not afraid to speak up and advocate for equality, inclusion, and results-driven outcomes.

Over time, Kennas developed three key strategies to overcome these challenges. First, she learned to listen carefully and patiently to others’ perspectives, regardless of biases or prejudices she may face. Kennas believed it was essential to respect everyone’s backgrounds, including factors such as age, experience, and culture.

Second, Kennas demonstrated empathy towards others, recognizing that everyone has their own struggles. She made an effort to support and value their colleagues and ensure that they felt included and part of the team.

Lastly, Kennas emphasized the importance of showing her commitment to helping and serving others. She believed that her actions would speak louder than words and that achieving positive results would prove her competence and gain the trust of her colleagues and peers over time.

Perception of Female Leaders Over The Years

Female leadership has seen a positive shift in recent years, with more and more women occupying leadership positions in sectors that have traditionally been male-dominated. However, despite this progress, there is still room for improvement.

One way to improve gender diversity in the workplace is by making a firm commitment to hiring more women at all levels. Johnson Controls, a company committed to diversity and inclusion, recognizes the importance of creating a culture that values uniqueness, celebrates creativity, and drives innovation, and believes that this can best be achieved through diversity.

Employers and leaders can promote diversity by focusing on qualifications rather than age or gender when hiring new talent. Taking this approach has led to an increase in the number of women hired at Johnson Controls, resulting in a positive shift in the company’s culture. By prioritizing diversity, companies can create an inclusive environment that fosters innovation and encourages all employees to contribute to their full potential.

Future of Work and Human Interaction Through Digital Technology

Digital technology has been present for quite some time, and its continuous evolution has brought new solutions that enrich our lives. Among the many advantages of digital technology, two key benefits are improved quality of life and connectivity.

In the context of the built environment, we envision smart and personalized workplaces that cater to the needs of each individual. Work environments should prioritize purposeful space utilization, promoting efficiency, effectiveness, human interaction, and collaboration. Our proposed approach involves the use of intelligent sensors within spaces that can adjust a building’s cooling system according to comfort levels, based on data collected from the sensors. Using this data, the system can optimize energy consumption, regulate lighting, arrange space utilization based on occupancy rates, and provide high-quality indoor air for the workforce.

The ultimate goal of technology in society is not to disrupt human interaction but rather to enhance our capabilities while promoting increased interaction. Technology serves as a tool that enables us to achieve more while improving our quality of life.