This Brilliant Woman is Changing the Face of Technology In Project Management

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How do you use Project Management in your current role?

I previously served as a Senior IT Project Manager in the public sector at the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and most recently the City of Chicago. I lead both application development and operational improvement efforts for the Program Management and Technology division. I am currently the Program Lead for Chicago's Smart City Lighting Project, one of the largest smart city initiatives in the United States.


What is the best career advice you have ever received?

My greatest gift to date is using my voice to advocate for others; it is my life’s work to break down all barriers from glass ceiling, barbed wire to concrete blocks. From my first IT job at DePaul University’s help desk to present day, I have found that the technology industry is majorly lacking diversity. Needless to say, I’ve felt alone in many of my classes, corporate offices and professional organizations. It’s concerning to think of how many women and minorities have this same experience. Hope means not feeling alone on your journey, we all have to make sure no one ever feels alone again.


What is your definition of success?

Success is in the journey of never giving up and realizing that there are many destinations on the way to success.

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What is most important to you?

Advocacy is in the very fabric of my being; my work has included mentoring young students, supporting small businesses, educational programs and volunteering with some great organizations. I’ve served as the Events and Volunteer Lead for Black Girls Code Chicago and I am very active in Chicago’s Tech Community as a diversity and inclusion champion. I am affectionately known by my alias “The Tech Unicorn”, sometimes being a woman or minority in technology is often compared to being a rare, mythological creature no one believes exists. I happen to be both a woman and a minority. I bring visibility to all of the unicorns doing the work and those I represent in leadership by uplifting, providing resources and opportunities. It is my belief that no one is seeking a handout, we all just want an opportunity. In 2016, Verizon recognized me as one of ten brilliant men and women breaking stereotypes in their professions. The Root also graciously included me as one of ten women of color you should know changing the face of technology.


Balance. What is your definition of work-life balance?

As good as is it sounds, work-life balance is a myth. There are many things that you consider imporant and that may change over time. It's more about making room for the things that make you happy,fulfilled and those moments you can't miss and the people you cannot live without.


How do you de-stress from work?

I usually find myself reading books, traveling the world and spending time with family and friends.



Jamila Parham is a Senior IT Project Manager at the City of Chicago. She leads both application development, operational and innovative efforts for the Innovation and Technology Division. Jamila has led smart city, software, infrastructure and network programs ranging from server upgrades, disaster recovery, bus fleet operations, and data security for both the public and private sector.

Affectionately known as The Tech Unicorn, Jamila is an IT Leader, Speaker, and a Champion for Diversity and Inclusion. She advocated on behalf of under-represented communities in order to address the lack of diversity in STEM. She has dedicated much of her life to giving back to her community as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the Events and Volunteer Lead for the Black Girls Code Chicago Chapter and various other organizations. Her mission as The Tech Unicorn is to uplift and provide opportunities to women and minorities by educating, breaking down barriers and providing access to resources. Jamila received a Bachelor of Science from DePaul University in Computer Graphics and Animation. She holds a Master of Information Systems Management from Keller Graduate School. In 2016, Jamila was featured as a 40 Under 40 Awardee and one of Verizon's ten brilliant men and women breaking stereotypes in their professions. She was also featured by The Root and MADE Magazine as one of ten women of color you should know changing the face of technology. Jamila has used her platform in partnership with The University of Chicago, General Assembly, Soroptimist International and Chicago’s Glass Slipper Project.


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