August’s Big Nerd of the Month took home the title in a landslide vote. Word around the office is that Project Strategist Kathryn Thomas has been “crushing it” and exemplifying Nerd values, bringing our best to client projects.
Her fellow Nerds couldn’t agree more. As UX/UI designer Zack Simon said, “Kathy is always trying to make consulting a better experience for designers, developers and clients. I haven’t yet walked away from a conversation with her without learning something about both of our jobs.”
We sat down with Kathy to see what it’s like to be the very definition of a project strategist.
Big Nerd Ranch: Congratulations on your well-deserved win! As a project strategist, you’re a bit of a behind-the-scenes powerhouse. Tell us a little more about your role at Big Nerd Ranch.
Kathy Thomas: The project strategists and I do everything we can to help make a project successful. A lot of that tends to be ensuring that clients and engineers are communicating well, that there are clear expectations on both sides and that everyone has what they need in order to do their jobs.
BNR: You’re clearly doing your part! Your fellow Nerds overwhelmingly nominated you, praising you for being level-headed, focused and consistent. What inspires your work ethic?
KT: I like to be helpful. I want a project to be better off because I’m a part of it. The Nerds are a great inspiration because they truly are brilliant, passionate people. I want to improve myself in order to be a better teammate for them.
BNR: You aren’t just a good teammate, however. You have served as co-chair of Carnegie Mellon’s Women @ Information Networking Institute and organized university tours for middle school girls. What has been your most rewarding experience as a mentor?
KT: I like introducing mentees to new ideas and new ways to think. It’s rewarding to know that I can introduce a whole new approach of problem-solving to someone. It’s also important to reinforce the idea that you don’t have to be the best, brightest, fastest person in school—some of the greatest successes as an adult are done in a team, which is why it’s so important to be kind to others.
BNR: Lastly, what advice can you offer for someone kicking off a career in project strategy?
KT: Transparency is the key. Be transparent about your intentions and plans to both the clients and to the software developers. As long as you have honorable intentions, a hardworking spirit and a constant desire for improvement, most issues will be eased.
BNR: We appreciate your hard work and leadership, Kathy! Congratulations again, and thanks for taking the time to chat.