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Celebrating Kantata’s Women in Technology: Emily Smith, Senior Program Manager

Celebrating Kantata’s Women in Technology: Emily Smith, Senior Program Manager

UPDATEDMar 07, 2023

In honor of International Women’s Day, we are sharing a collection of candid interviews with the women at Kantata from a variety of roles across different teams.  Each conversation highlights their impressive achievements and unique experiences in the technology industry and will focus on some of the most inspiring and impactful moments from the interview. 

First up is Emily Smith, Senior Program Manager, Business Operations. Emily originally began her tech career in sales, but eventually moved into operations, and has been with the Kantata Business Operations Team for three years now.

See Emily Smith share what project she’s most excited to work on at Kantata


Q: What are you most proud of in your time at Kantata?

The thing that I’m most proud of actually happened on day 9 of working at Kantata. It was March of 2020, and I was pulled into a conference room with my manager and was told, ‘hey, it’s the COVID-19 pandemic, we are going home. We want you to join our Covid response team and be a part of that team to try and help Kantatans through the pandemic.’

Honestly, I was honored to be given that responsibility on day 9 to work with the executive team and everybody across the world really, to make sure that we knew everyone was doing okay… keep an eye on how everyone was feeling. I worked on a lot of pulse surveys, trying to check in with everybody, trying to make sure everyone felt supported during what was honestly, a really challenging time. It was incredibly rewarding. I felt so lucky to be able to get to meet a lot of people across the business so quickly.

Q: What’s a project or initiative you’re currently working on at Kantata that you’re passionate about and why?

I am always really fascinated by system and process implementation. That was historically my background before I joined Kantata. I was very interested in asking ‘How we can make what we’re currently working on work better? How can we make the process move faster? What are we missing?’ And trying to put that all together. Right now, I’m actually working on overhauling our quoting and invoicing system at Kantata.

It’s a huge project. And it’s got a lot of different facets and things you have to make sure that you’re not forgetting. And I really enjoy and thrive with things like that. I really like making sure that every little detail is in place, and that all the I’s are dotted and our T’s are crossed. So it’s been a really fun project to work on, but I am excited to launch it.

Q: In your experience, do you feel that you face additional challenges being a woman in your profession that you have had to overcome?

I would say initially, yes — not here at Kantata thankfully. It’s tricky. I started my career in sales, and being a saleswoman is a hard thing, being one of a couple of saleswomen in a department is hard. And I think that I really struggled for a long time finding a mentor and finding somebody who could help me understand the business world. I didn’t really feel like I clicked with anybody right off the bat. There were attempts to link me up with people, but I didn’t have that moment of like, ‘Yes, I’ve got this. I really have figured out this person I mesh really well with. I can listen to them. I really admire them, and what they’ve done.’

I will never forget my first week, first job in tech. I was on a team, and there were about 8 or 9 of us, and I was the only woman. And I remember sitting around working and going, ‘Where is everybody?’ It was about lunch time, and I saw one of my team members and he walked by and said, ‘Hey,’ and I’m like, Hey, where is everyone? What’s going on?’ And he looks at me and says, ‘Oh, we’re having a guys’ lunch.’ And he probably meant nothing by it. But it shocked me, it really made me stop and realize that there are so many of these moments that as a woman in tech you might miss because they’re ‘guys’ lunches.’ It was going to be a lot harder for me to build those connections. It wasn’t going to happen as naturally. I had to reach out. I had to stand up, I had to say, ‘Hey, let’s go to lunch. Let’s go do this.’

Q: What advice would you give your younger self when you were just starting out?

I tell this to everybody. It doesn’t hurt to ask. If you don’t know what’s going on, if you need help… It’s always beneficial to ask. I will admit that at the beginning of my career, I was a little bit passive. I didn’t really know what was going on. I didn’t really know what to do. I needed help, but I didn’t know how to ask for help.

I think that if I had been able to have the confidence to speak up and pull someone aside and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got a lot of questions. I feel like I’m struggling here, or I don’t understand this…’ I think it would’ve been a beneficial thing for me — I would have had an easier time overall.

The way that I got my job at Kantata is, I reached out to somebody who worked here and I said: ‘Hey, I would like to work for this company, can I?’ And it got me where I am today. So it doesn’t hurt to ask — the worst that you can hear is no.

Learn More

Emily is one of the countless women at Kantata who are doing a tremendous job moving the needle and playing an enormous role in the greater success of the organization. To hear more stories from the women at Kantata, browse the entire series here or check out our most recent posts featuring Sarah Edwards and Naz Sarfraz. To learn more about career opportunities at Kantata, visit this page.

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