Computerworld’s May 5, 2014 issue features none other than our own CIO, Linglong He. Linglong is featured as a member of Michigan’s CIO Kitchen Cabinet, a group of about two dozen metro Detroit IT leaders that was brought together to share ideas, innovation and best practices to better the state of Michigan.
I’ve known Linglong for years, and I’ve never passed her in the hall without a smile and a hello. She’s that kind of a person, one who always goes out of her way to be friendly. Linglong has led the Quicken Loans IT team through some of the greatest growth in our 29-year history. Today, Linglong oversees over 1,100 team members, and she does it well. In 2013, Computerworld ranked Quicken Loans the #1 place to work in IT in the U.S. Not bad!
I sat down with Linglong to get a better idea of what life is like for a technologist on the top technology team in the country. Here’s what she had to say.
How long have you worked in IT?
LINGLONG: I have been in the technology field for 20+ years, and with Quicken Loans for 18 years now. I have served in various roles, including developer, DBA, SE and several leadership roles within IT.
What do you look for when hiring new IT professionals and leaders?
LINGLONG: Besides a strong technology skill set, we are looking for the right attitude and aptitude. They need to fit in our culture, have passion for technology and innovation, be solution-oriented and have strong communication skills.
What are the biggest challenges when working in IT?
LINGLONG: We treat challenges as opportunities. One of our opportunities is that we are constantly growing. We need the ability to ensure our technology processes, structure and platforms drive business forward, while maintaining our culture. Another opportunity is that technology is constantly evolving and changing; we need to stay cutting-edge and apply those new technologies to our business needs.
What are you most excited about when it comes to future technologies?
LINGLONG: There are many great technologies rising up every day, such as cloud computing, big data, social media networking, mobile computing etc. It impacts our business and everyday life. One thing is very important to our technologists: Technology will not mean much if it does not change or impact people’s lives or the way we do business.
What is it about Quicken Loans that is unlike any other mortgage company, in relation to IT?
LINGLONG: Our secret sauce is our people and our culture. Our company treats technology as an investment, not an expense. Our IT team members knows they drive the business here. We often tell the rest of world that we are a technology company that just does mortgages extremely well. We compare ourselves with other technology companies, not just companies in the mortgage space. We do not settle, and we always find a better way to help our clients. Everyday day, we leverage our cutting-edge technology platforms to drive the business here.
What is Bullet Time and how does it help Quicken Loans IT team members grow?
LINGLONG: Every Monday afternoon, Technology team members get the opportunity to stop doing their regular work and focus their attention toward innovative ideas or projects. This is a great opportunity for team members to grow by learning new skills, developing new applications, prototyping new ideas and tackling company challenges with innovative technology solutions!
What have you learned from being a member of the Michigan CIO Kitchen Cabinet?
LINGLONG: Regardless of the size of the company or if they are private and public, as CIOs, we deal with many of the same challenges, such as how to retain and attract talented people, how to deliver quality projects on time and how to build a trust relationship with the business. We are very open with each other. Sometimes, we share best practices and lessons learned with good and bad examples. I enjoy my partnership with CIO Kitchen Cabinet, and I am honored to be part of this technology leadership team!
What advice do you have for young and upcoming IT professionals to prepare for working at a place like Quicken Loans?
LINGLONG: Embrace the culture, believe in and be yourself, take the ownership for what you do, have passion for what you do every day and carry your own sunshine. The most important is to make a positive impact to the business and to the people around you!
So there it is. Congratulations to Linglong He for being recognized as a leader of IT by Computerworld. And, more importantly, thank you to Linglong for her outstanding leadership and vision, both of which have contributed greatly to making Quicken Loans the great company it is.