Join us each month for a series highlighting the unique career journey of employees. This month, we talk to a Senior Manager in St. Louis.
1. When did you start with Centric? Tell me about your career path.
I started with Centric in May 2015. I had worked in various industries, starting at an equipment company and later joining healthcare, biotech, technology and manufacturing companies. My first and only experience in consulting prior to Centric was very short-term as a right-to-hire, where I was hired within three months, at Monsanto as a programmer.
After 11 years in multiple roles (programmer, functional architect, system analyst, database administrator), I decided to focus on my higher education. While continuing my studies, I worked at a local hospital, developing small software programs, implementing Lean, and steering various initiatives. As I was finishing up my degree, I still missed the fast pace of “St. Louis” and innovated organizations!
So I starting working with Paul Holway at SavisDirect, which was a division of CenturyLink that provided Cloud services. As a bonus, it was in my area of studies. When this division dissolved, one of my former bosses left to New Balance, taking me along to lead an Agile Transformation.
2. How did you end up in consulting?
I was putting undue pressure on myself. Lucky for me, I recruited Paul as my mentor (which he may not have known at the time) to help review my training material, bounce off ideas and provide constructive feedback. I soon realized change was critical to my quest for internal growth and pursuit of knowledge.
3. If you had to pinpoint a definitive moment in your career, what would that be?
There was a moment in my career when I felt I was not making time to pursue work-life balance. I realized I was no longer getting any emotional rewards from my career and life was all about work.
A peer told me, “Kathi, I work to live, NOT live to work. You need to think about that!”
This simple statement made me stop and think. To this day, I ponder on this statement to help regain focus and purpose in making my life really count.
4. How does your current role fit into your career path/goals?
I love to work in IT, keeping abreast with new technology and helping others address their challenges. My current role allows me to network and enhances my existing strengths along with continuing to grow my skill sets. But most importantly, I love to help clients understand how Centric can help them.
5. What are some unique, funny or interesting stories you can share about your career journey?
When I got my first job in St. Louis making $11,000 a year, I thought I was rich! I rented a flat, bought my first used car, and worked on my bachelor’s degree. I thought life was great!
What I didn’t realize is… I needed to pay for electric and gas. I didn’t even use my stove, I thought, so why do I need to pay for gas? I also forgot to budget for food and insurance payments! I went from feeling rich and pursuing the American Dream to working two part-time jobs to sustain my new wealth.
Lesson learned: To this day, I actively budget everything.
At the time, I was working for an equipment company and wanted to learn everything about the business from the office to the docks. I hated being stagnate, so when the office was slow, I would volunteer to work on the dock packaging up equipment or pulling stock from the shelves. Sometimes I would volunteer to help with the inventory.
I even started programming on their AS400, which would upset the sales guys. I would compile the code, while they tried to enter quotes. They would say, “Kathi, what are you doing in that back room again!”
At that time in my life, I was looking to climb the corporate ladder, but since this was a family-owned company there was no ladder to climb. A year after leaving this company, they asked me to come back as a manager. They were my work family and I went back for about two years until I realized it was time for me to disrupt my routine and look for more challenging opportunities. So… I quit, with no job lined up, a rent payment, and this time, a NEW car payment!
I think back to that time when I was young, ambitious, and had no fear of change. Today, it seems we’ve become less impelled to disrupt our current careers due to obligations and responsibilities we acquire as we pursue our life journey.
6. What motivates your career and drives you to keep going?
My motivation is to continuously improve, learn new skills, and strengthen existing ones to overcome the fear of becoming stagnant. As a consultant, I have different experiences with each client thanks to differences in culture, industry, visions, and/or growth expectations.
Each new engagement helps me build and acquire experiences to fill my “toolbox” of knowledge so I can continue helping future clients with their challenges. I thrive on learning and challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone and be that younger “me” who had no fear of change!
7. Please describe consulting at Centric. What is this job like? Describe your typical day.
Working at Centric is great. It is challenging for me to explain my typical day because there is no set routine. I never become stagnant because each day and each client is different.
Though the start of each day is very similar. I start reviewing my weekly calendar and prepping for the day’s activities. I review my personal task list of items that I want to accomplish and catch up on any outstanding emails. My role usually requires me to facilitate meetings, identify opportunities to help the client achieve their specific goals, and help the teams deliver.
Whether it’s identifying a new process, defining requirements, helping define reports, coaching and mentoring on various methodologies, making contacts with potential clients, or investigating and teaching new tools. Depending on the client or goal, I may need to shift focus and deviate from my daily plan, but that’s one of my favorite parts about consulting.
8. What did your recruiting process look like? Did you find Centric, or did we find you?
Paul and I continued to network while he was actively pursuing clients that would be a good fit for both the client and myself. Centric really cares about their employees and wants to ensure new recruits will be happy at Centric. It was a seamless transition from first being a temp to a full-time employee.
9. Is your practice currently hiring? Or, is the company currently hiring for roles like yours? If so, what positions are open?
The St. Louis office has several positions available for both Technology and Business Consulting opportunities. You can check out our most current openings by clicking here.
10. What mix of skills, personality, and values do you find most important for a consulting role like yours?
Personally, I rely on empathy and compassion along with being flexible. These align with some of Centric’s core values: Embrace Integrity and Openness, Strive to Innovate, and Delivery Excellence. Many clients need someone to listen and help them overcome the fear of change, redefining processes, learning new software, or overcoming a mind shift. As a servant leader, I help guide clients to their objectives.
One client told me, “We had consultants tell us what we need to be doing, but you are the first to actually show us and provide suggestions on how to operationalize the concepts.” Flexibility helps me strive for innovation, reach for opportunities, and acquire life experiences. For me, it is no longer about climbing that “corporate ladder,” it’s more of being on a “jungle gym” where you are moving sideways, forward, and backward to achieve success and emotional rewards.
11. What tips would you share with future Centric recruits?
Centric is not a ‘staff augmentation’ company. We focus on delivering services to help organizations achieve their goals. We work as a team to remove the old mindset of being a ‘butt in the chair’ for completing short-term tasks.
With this being said, if titles and climbing that ‘corporate ladder’ is not driving an emotional reward for your career, I strongly encourage you to jump on the “jungle gym” to disrupt the stagnation and experience new opportunities!
12. Given that Centric values work-life balance, please share some of your hobbies or special interests outside of work.
I love to garden. I’m actually a “Master Gardner” (believe it or not it is a USDA certification). I love to help others identify various insects, planting techniques, and how to preserve their garden goodies. Gardening gives me that time to let my brain relax and escape.
When I am not gardening, I’m trying to keep up with new technologies either by reading or taking an online course. To pull myself away from the computer, I stay outdoors either paddling around on our lake, bass fishing, landscaping, training (aka playing) with my Sheltie dogs, or just sitting and observing nature.
- Read our Career Journey series.
- Check out more information on our business consulting and technology careers.
- Learn more about our St. Louis location
About the Author
Kathi Paquet is a Senior Manager based in St. Louis who specializes in Agile Transformation and Scaled Agile Framework. She has over 18 years of experience in designing and delivering cross-functional improvements and integration efforts that meet compliance needs and ensure the integration and flow of information. Kathi has played a variety of roles on teams, including strong management, agile transformation, project management, implementation of new processes, change management and database design.