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Meet Anita Lynch, One Of The First African American Women To Serve As A Chief Data Officer For A Public Company

 

Anita Lynch was far from your typical tween during her upbringing. At just the age of 10, she fell in love with technology because at the time her father worked at Hewlett-Packard (HP). Although he was in the sales department, he was encouraged by sales engineers to buy her a computer to learn how to code. Lynch was given a Radio Shack TRS-80, which resembles an electric typewriter, along with a book of programs to build her own creations.

“That was my first real introduction to having independent thought and creativity,” Lynch shared with AfroTech. “‘Because I could change the color, the position, and make them walk out a certain way. It was just fascinating to me that I had the ability to do this on my own.”

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And the rest is history.

A Look Into Anita Lynch’s Career Timeline

Becoming tech-savvy as an adolescent opened the door to her love for software — ultimately leading her to become a software developer for the first 10 years of her career. What’s more, her work includes leading big brands such as Disney, Apple, Amazon, and Yahoo!

In 2021, Lynch became the first Chief Data Officer at New Relic — marking her as one of the first African American women to serve in the position for a public company. The exec revealed to us that being one of the first made her appalled and happy, and aware that “it also means that we still have so much work to do.”

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Lynch’s awareness of representation stems back to her youth, just as her love for tech and building.

When initially going to school in Chicago — before moving to California — she found herself playing by herself at recess because the other kids saw her as “different.”

“It was a moment for me when I realized that I couldn’t allow people’s perception of me being different to become a barrier to being able to achieve the things that I wanted to achieve or build the relationships that I knew I needed to build in order to be a part of a community and to thrive in different communities,” Lynch recalled.

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She continued: “And so ever since then, I’ve always made it a point to find ways to transcend that moment that we all have when we walk into a room and we realize that we are the only whatever it might be, the only woman, the only person of color, the only fill in the blank, transcending that moment, by at least initially having the awareness that’s gonna inevitably happen just by the nature of what I do. There aren’t that many women in tech. There aren’t that many Black people in tech. When you are the intersection of both, it becomes fewer, but transcending that moment by having the awareness it’s inevitable, but also having the awareness that there are other ways to connect with people in the room.”

NASDAQ Appointment

After making history last year, Lynch continues to kick down doors. In July, she was appointed to the Board of Directors, Nasdaq U.S. Exchanges. While in the early stages of being a full-time corporate board director, Lynch is focused on identifying and managing risk, as well as helping the CEO ensure they have an effective strategy to navigate that.

Work As An Angel Investor

When it comes to her time spent in the VC space, Lynch is all about investing in what aligns with the impact she aims to make. For her, she wants to be a part of ensuring that technology and data are being used to make the world a better place. In short, “treating data rights as human rights while also leveraging technology to make businesses more resilient.”

“There’s all sorts of bias that goes into human decision making that can be the result of cultural influence,” she said to AfroTech. “It can be the result of differences in language. There are all sorts of things that can happen but you have to have someone present who sits at the intersection of both of those things to the ability to understand the technology and also speak to some of the risks that might be negative outcomes for marginalized groups if they’re not included.”

“That’s one thing that I’m investing in quite a bit and taking the time to find, for example, founders who are diverse and there’s an organization called Black VC that has been really monumental in teaching me how to think about being an effective investor,” she added.

Desire To Make A Community Impact

Outside of her current roles, Lynch wants to contribute to her community through her deep passion for education. Coming from a mother and grandmother who were public teachers in Chicago, the power education holds has since been instilled in her.

Currently, she is looking into writing case studies for the Harvard Business School — her alma mater — and becoming involved in executive education programs to help teach those who will one day follow in her footsteps.

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Written by How Africa News

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