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Advancing Women in Technology

At KiZAN, we’re focused on creating raving fans. In order to accomplish this goal, we’ve spent the last 25 years building a diverse team that brings together many different experiences, viewpoints and ways of working with customers to make that a reality. In many cases it means recognizing talent early on and offering opportunities to those who might not necessarily fit the standard IT mold.

Advance Your Career

Shelli Calhoun: VP of Sales :

Meet Shelli Calhoun. “Twenty-three years ago, I was eager to work in the IT field but lacked some of the background I thought I needed.” The owners of KiZAN met Shelli and were so impressed by her enthusiasm and drive they hired her as a personal assistant so she could see and learn all aspects of the business. Shelli got her first sales experience helping to market and sell training services. To hone her skills, Shelli says “I spent many hours in both our customer IT classes and internal training sessions so that I could better understand the world of KiZAN and Microsoft.” Her efforts were recognized, and she was later named as the Director of Training in 1999.

In 2004, when the focus of the company shifted to becoming a Microsoft Gold solutions provider, Shelli eagerly moved into consultant sales and 18 months later was named to her current role of VP of Sales. When asked what has helped her to become a successful woman in the IT business Shelli says, “It has been KiZAN’s culture of inclusivity and diversity that has enabled me to work with companies of all sizes and specialties and be viewed as a respected peer and leader.”

Tenure at KiZAN: 23 Years

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Jackie Roberts: CFO

Meet Jackie Roberts, our 31st hire. While not from an IT background, Jackie showed the business savvy and financial expertise KiZAN needed. Jackie began her career as KiZAN’s first controller. According to Jackie, “I was drawn to the excitement of a young, growing technology company that also had the casual, family-like atmosphere that I loved."  Jackie stayed with and guided KiZAN through an acquisition by Panurgy Corporation, and after a few years, also helped relaunch KiZAN when the new owners purchased the assets to relaunch the KiZAN brand once again. Based on her skill and loyalty to the company, Jackie was then named part owner and CFO of KiZAN.

Asked about her impact on being a woman in the IT business, Jackie says, “I would hope that I am an example of someone that can have a wonderful career in IT, even though I do not have the technical experience.” Having spent the last 22 years in the IT industry, I have seen many wonderful opportunities created for young women.  In fact, “I have enjoyed seeing young women join our team and grow in our company and in the industry.  Some of them have even left our company to start their own IT companies or move on to Microsoft. IT is an exciting, ever-changing industry that has opportunities for almost anyone that wants to take a chance.”

Tenure at KiZAN: 22 Years

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Cassie Smith: Senior Business Development Executive

Meet Cassie Smith. Cassie came to KiZAN and helped bring a new perspective to the sales and marketing departments. Being new to the IT industry, Cassie was up to the challenge. “I had zero experience in technology, but I was determined to learn the industry and how I could best market KiZAN.” Her success connecting with customers and selling the value of Microsoft services helped earn her a promotion to the role of Senior Business Development Executive.

What KiZAN saw in Cassie, and what continues to make her a successful woman in IT, is her ability to match her technical expertise with her ability to connect with customers. “While it’s easy to solely focus on the technical side of the business, at the end of the day we are solving real challenges for our clients. I’ve been able to cultivate partnerships with current and new customers because they realize I’m listening and helping them translate urgent technical and business needs into realistic solutions.” Asked about her journey into the IT field, Cassie says, “I can say that I have stepped out of my comfort zone these past six years. KiZAN has given me the chance to improve and grow in ways I didn’t think I was ready to and I look forward to many more exciting days to come.”

Tenure at KiZAN: 6 Years

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Denise Poe: Director of Project Services

Meet Denise Poe. Twenty-one years ago, Denise came to KiZAN looking to change careers. Formerly a graphic designer, Denise wanted to get into the IT field as a system engineer and began taking Microsoft certification classes through KiZAN. Denise and her trainers quickly concluded that her talents were better suited as a developer and helped her to pursue her Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer certificate. In time, Denise joined the KiZAN developer team. Her skill and tenacity eventually led her to her current position as Director of Project Services (overseeing all project management and business analysis).

Looking back on her career development, Denise understood she was entering a field dominated by men, but she focused more on "the work” than on “who was working” in the field. “You have to know what drives you and what makes you passionate… then pursue that,” says Denise. Through KiZAN and the support of her trainers and the management team, Denise has had the ability to pursue both her technical and project management passions. “As the Director of Project Services, I see the value of putting together diverse teams, which includes having women represented. I love finding people’s strengths and putting the right folks together and accomplishing something seemingly insurmountable.”

 

Tenure at KiZAN: 21 Years

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Jenn Browning: Senior Consultant

Meet Jenn Browning. Jenn Came to KiZAN as an intern from the University of Louisville with a focus on working as a developer in the IT industry. Jenn’s drive and accomplishments during her internship were too good to pass up, which led to her being hired after she graduated in 2009. Microsoft had just introduced SharePoint, and as a dedicated learner, Jenn was eager to tackle the new product and how a variety of industries could use it. “Although my initial focus was in development, KiZAN has helped me expand my skill set into the administration and architecture side of SharePoint.” As one of KiZAN’s core members of the SharePoint team, Jenn has helped develop solutions across various industries including education, defense, state government, and private investment.

When planning for her career, Jenn focused on software development and how it could be applied to solve business challenges. The University of Louisville’s internship program has helped KiZAN identify and work with several promising female candidates. “I’m actually a second-generation woman in IT, having followed my mother who started her career 20 years ago. There is less of a stigma for women working in technology today because of other female trailblazers, like my mother, showing determination to succeed in a field where they’ve not historically been welcome. I hope to be a real-life example to other women interested in pursuing a career in technology so that they can see they can thrive and be successful in this field.”

Tenure at KiZAN: 11 Years

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