By Anton Cordes ’20, Business honors

“Never say no.”

This was one of the key takeaways from a meeting with MIS graduate Jamie Duke McClain ’97. Jamie is currently a Senior Security Manager at Samsung Electronics America — but she never planned on working in security. Jamie started her career as a consultant and worked for companies including Accenture, EDS, and McKesson Pharmaceuticals with a focus on process innovation.

After starting at Samsung in 2009 as a Process Innovation Manager, McClain was given a few small security-related tasks. These tasks include the security of unreleased products and marketing materials, internal and external non-disclosure agreements, and supply chain operations. Even though she did not have any experience in security, she accepted each task eagerly and taught herself the nuances of security on the fly. Over time, McClain performed well and was given more and more responsibility until she was ultimately asked to move over to full-time security management. She now oversees Samsung USA cybersecurity and all strategic products from development to release.

McClain used her experiences to explain to us how career paths are never straight — they are more like a windy river, with unexpected twists and turns. “However,” McClain explained, “as long you stay open to opportunities wherever they present themselves and work diligently, recognition, titles, and compensation will all work themselves out.”

Anna Scharpf ’20, a Business Honors major, said: “It was really great to hear from Jamie McClain because she was very relatable. I really enjoyed her take on women in the workforce. It was really fun hearing crazy security stories from the U.S. and Korea.”

Allain Bigirimana ’20, a Business Honors major, said she enjoyed having the opportunity to interact with a senior leader at a major global corporation. “I appreciated the insight into her early career, her transition into her current role, and how she manages to balance work with her personal life. From Jamie, I learned 1) plan but don’t be afraid of unplanned opportunities. And 2) in the face of adversity, focus on the positives because they will always outweigh the negatives.”