It’s no secret that competing for tech jobs in San Francisco is no simple task. Stories of difficult interviews with local tech companies, like Google, Linkedin and Twitter, have been around for years, prompting job seekers to gain any advantage in getting hired, much less a coveted interview. One way to gain an edge in the hiring process is to seek career advice from experts in the field, such as Letha McLaren of Bay Area-based Icontrol. As the chief marketing officer, McLaren is responsible for product expansion and corresponding marketing strategies to allow Icontrol to continue as the leader in the connected home space. McLaren has more than 15 years of diverse marketing, product development and business leadership experience in the technology and energy industries.

What is your background and level of education?

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“I’ve always loved problem solving. Early on, I thrived in math and physics, ending up with an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering. As I progressed in my career, I found that I was good at dealing with customers and realized my true passion: understanding customer needs and translating those into new product offerings; thus, evolved a long career in product management/marketing. To fine-tune my business skills, I obtained an M.B.A. from Georgia Institute of Technology.”

What type of services does Icontrol provide?

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“Icontrol is the most widely distributed connected home platform in the industry. In addition to our all-in-one Piper home security, video monitoring and automation device, Icontrol currently manages more than 26 million sensors and devices as the software behind leading service provider and security dealer smart home solutions, such as ADT Pulse and Comcast’s Xfinity Home.”

What career advice can you share to students interested in a career in information technology?

“Understand your customers. Regardless of who they are – end-users, business partners, colleagues – strive to understand customer needs. You’ll be primed for success and won’t waste time and effort. Embrace change. Change lets you learn and grow. Especially in IT, if you resist change, your skills could become outdated and obsolete. Strive to operate outside your comfort zone. Once you’ve achieved your goals, move the bar. Career growth is directionally proportional to the risk you’re willing to take.”

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Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on