Diva Tech Talk recently interviewed Carey Pachla, President of Fast Switch, a rapidly growing information technology consulting company, with 750 staff members and 2015 sales of $80 million (a 30% annual growth rate) specializing in contract, contract-to-hire and executive search services.
Carey’s journey in technology was an intentional one. Graduating as a business major with a human resources concentration from Western Michigan University, Carey thought, long and hard, about which industry would be best for her. Discussing information technology, she said “I actually sought it out. When I got out into the field, my first job was in sales for a logistics and shipping company. Loved it, but really thinking long-term, I talked to many people and I researched. At that time, IT was booming and everything I learned pointed me in a technology direction.” She learned much more on the job. “I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what all that meant,” she said. “But I started out seeking jobs in IT and that led me ultimately into staffing and recruiting in the field.”
Carey said she couldn’t be happier about her choice. “The main reason is that there are so many wonderful, smart individuals in this industry, and I learn every day.”
Having spent the subsequent 10 years in tech companies, after her stint in logistics, Carey is also enthusiastic about her company of the last 14 years: Fast Switch. “It is extremely forward-thinking. Our motto is ‘fast, flexible, creative, and honest.’ Fourteen years ago we were doing things other IT staffing companies were not.” Carey’s customers range from Fortune 100 organizations to startups. Her biggest regional clients include Ford Motor Company, Nationwide Insurance, Cardinal Health, United Health Group, General Motors, and a number of automotive suppliers and financial/banking companies.
Having evolved into President of Fast Switch, Carey spends much of her current time strategically evaluating how she and her team can consistently improve in delivering on their overall mission. “I’m always looking at how we can do things faster; how we can do them better; how can we deliver better value.” Carey said that she is extremely fortunate in her timing as she joined Fast Switch when the company was developing the Midwest region. “We had an open drawing board. No one knew who we were. “ Now, through focused efforts, the Fast Switch team is very proud of their level of positive recognition.
Carey discussed her continuous creative efforts serving her customers. She described a program that Fast Switch initiated with nonprofit Focus Hope equipping individuals with technology skills to become part of the talent pool for one of her largest customers. Because of this program, and other initiatives like it, “I would say that the one adjective that describes my job is fulfilling,” Carey said.
Asked about her personal leadership strengths, Carey said that self-awareness and her propensity to surround herself with people who are dissimilar to her, filling in for her weaknesses, is very important. She also thinks that always taking a genuine interest in her colleagues, her customers, and her team is powerful and positive.
In terms of her philanthropic life, Carey is currently the Vice President of The Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT), a nonprofit dedicated to advancing women in tech. She is slated to become that organization’s President in 2017. She described a number of MCWT programs aimed at helping girls consider, and join, the tech field including six Camp Infinity summer camps for middle schoolers, and a 1-day event for both middle school and high school girls called “Girls Are IT,” teaching inner city girls about IT. Carey also discussed an MCWT event for women coming up in May 2016: EXECUTIVE CONNECTIONS SUMMIT, which convenes 1000 people and thought leaders.
In a common theme throughout her career and life, Carey talked about women and what they bring to the workplace. “Women bring a lot of great things. We bring compassion. We bring resilience,” she said. She also discussed achieving life balance. The mother of two growing daughters, she ensures that she takes time for them, being present but supported by technology when necessary. “If they see you happy, and healthy, and putting a good effort forward in your career, they are learning from you.”
As part of her support system, Carey credits several mentors for their support. And she has four key pieces of leadership wisdom for other women:
- Work hard. There is no substitute for hard work.
- Take the “long cut.” There are no shortcuts. Learn your trade, dig in, and take the long road.
- Take a genuine interest in, and listen to your team.
- Lead by example.
In conclusion, Carey strongly advises other women: “Don’t be afraid and learn.” Carey Pachla can be reached at email@example.com. The Michigan Council of Women in Technology can be viewed at www.mcwt.org.
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