Ep 42: Kim Kaminski: More Powerful Than What Scares You

Diva Tech Talk was honored to speak with Kimberly Kaminski, Vice President of Global Marketing for rapidly-growing TMaxSoft, a 20-year old worldwide software innovator focused on infrastructure and data modernization to support digital business.  Kim’s rich technology marketing career spans both Fortune 500 companies and emergent technology innovators. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, TMaxSoft (www.tmaxsoft.com) offers enterprise CIOs solutions to empower and modernize their IT infrastructures, and dynamically drive competitive advantage.  With over 800 employees in 20 strategic centers around the globe (and plans to move into more throughout 2017) the company is a leader in relational database management systems for virtual data centers, legacy re-hosting solutions for mainframes, service-oriented architecture to enhance IT environments, and web application server software, among other offerings.

Like some of our other Divas, at one point Kim considered becoming a doctor, but graduated Northern Illinois University, instead, as a journalism major with an emphasis on advertising. She began her fascinating journey, right out of college, as a writer/producer for a post-operative medical products manufacturer. “The job was perfect for me because it allowed me to pursue my love of science, while also perfecting the craft of writing and learning marketing,” she said. “I have a very strong foundation as a writer, which has served me well throughout my career.  My early start as a journalist and the ability to ask questions, and have that curiosity, has helped me connect with developers, and ask those really tough questions that marketing uses to create value propositions that get customers to buy.”   

Having “cut her teeth” in marketing, Kim moved into the advertising business for several years including a stint in the tech practice for J. Walter Thompson (https://www.jwt.com/)), the 4th largest ad agency in the world.  From JWT, she migrated to semiconductor powerhouse Texas Instruments (www.ti.com), working at their headquarters in Dallas, Texas as marketing communications manager. “It was at TI where my marketing career took off,” Kim said.  “I was working for some really great leaders who were doing Six Sigma and other progressive things across all their businesses.”  Kim was then recruited to work at software company, Novadigm (later acquired by Hewlett Packard: www.hp.com ) and “I have been in the software industry ever since!”   

From Novadigm, Kim moved to CA Technologies (www.ca.com), then the 5th largest enterprise software company in the world. “It was an exciting time to join CA, because we were going through the rebranding of the company from Computer Associates to CA. That was a great project to be a part of.  The company was trying to move from being a very technical company to being a customer-facing, market-driven company.”   Kim spent 11 years at CA, evolving into progressively greater leadership roles.  “I was fortunate to be in all facets of marketing,” she said, “from MARCOM to product marketing/product management and then field marketing.” Eventually Kim was promoted to Vice President of Field Marketing within CA’s Northern Division sales organization.  Then Kim leaped to a smaller company, Avocent (acquired by Emerson Electric - http://www.emerson.com/en-us ) in Huntsville, Alabama, as Director of Global Field Marketing, where she worked for 2.5 years. “My legacy of understanding data infrastructure and moving progressively through companies that focus on that has taken me on a path that has served me well,” she said.  Recruited as Vice President, Marketing for privately-held Vision Solutions for 2 years (https://www.visionsolutions.com/)  she then led their global marketing team.   Her first worldwide leadership job, this was also a “great opportunity to work in private equity where marketing is held much more accountable to articulate how to drive value for the company.   As a marketing leader, learning to do that is valuable.”   After Vision Solutions, Kim worked for Infogix (http://www.infogix.com/) in global marketing leadership for another 2 years, before moving to her current role at TMaxSoft.

Kim is having fun in her current job.  “My personal mission is to grow the marketing discipline, grow the team” at TMaxSoft, she said. “We’re working to create, within the company, a culture of customer-focused marketing.”  One of TMaxSoft’s value propositions is to provide very high return on investment by “unshackling legacy solutions from the mainframe,” and helping customers effectively deploy and use cloud-based and mobile digital methods of application delivery. “We’re talking to people at all levels in IT. We’re talking to CIOs because they’re looking for cost savings, and efficiency --- doing more with less. We’re talking to the users of our potential solutions because they’re the ‘influencers’; they need to know the technology works, that it’s easy to use, and not going to be a training burden.”   Kim sees this as both “the challenge and the opportunity for our sales teams. And for marketing, it provides us with an opportunity to really help the sales team sell at all those levels.”

Kim shared that one thing she has had to realize, along the way, is that “the only real inhibitor to my success was me. We all have to get to a point where we discover, and come to believe in, our own authenticity.”   She had the chance to work with a coach at the Master of Business Leadership Program (http://masterbusinessleadership.com/) which focuses on helping leaders find their unique value and capitalize on that. “That was pivotal for me to realize that no one was standing in my way, except for me.”  One of Kim’s favorite current quotes is “You are a lot more powerful than that which scares you.”  

To achieve her success, Kim believes three key personal characteristics have been essential for her: patience, tenacity, and a sense of humor.  Particularly as she has undertaken a global role, “there are language issues, geographical boundaries, and lot of work taking place over phone conference calls and Webex.”   She stressed “it takes a lot of patience, diplomacy, tact, and tenacity to go around and through roadblocks that inevitably pop up in business.   When you’re leading a team, it’s the leader’s responsibility to help the team navigate those roadblocks, to make their jobs fun and easy.” Kim also relies on her sense of humor to “break the ice, lighten the moments, when things get tense. The ability to laugh and try to find the positive aspects of a situation are really important.”

For Kim, being a woman in the tech field has affected her “in both positive and not-so-positive ways.”   She shared a story from her early career where a male manager told her that he felt that women should be exclusively at home, raising kids. “Instead of reacting negatively, I decided to just do a great job, and prove him wrong. And I ended up becoming one of his most trusted employees!” Kim is relieved that the business world is a lot different today but she said “I do think there is still some degree of negative things like ‘ageism.’ However, I think it is all about how you react to that. For me, personally, I refuse to feed into those notions.   I don’t hide my age, as an example.”   Kim also is thrilled that she has had the chance to mentor younger women. “This has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career,” she said. To her, “it’s important for every woman not to measure themselves against another woman. You must find what works for you.  That can take many different forms throughout your career.”

Kim has cogent advice for other women aspiring to lead, particularly technology marketing leaders:

  • Stay humble and be willing to learn from everyone. “It is really important to keep that sense of humility and open mindedness,” especially as it applies to learning from younger colleagues.

  • Continue to study hard. “Learn how to talk the language of development,” and additionally “speak the language of business.”  Kim emphasizes that bridging technology and the needs of the business is an essential job for marketing.

  • And remember that “marketing has the responsibility to be the headlights of the business; really going out there, shining the light on the markets and the customers” to show where the business needs to go.

One precept Kim tries to live by is “everything in moderation.”  She advises to keep things simple. “Find the little things that all add up.  Make a little bit of time, every day, for yourself to sit and reflect.” Kim is a registered yoga instructor, and finds that it “brings a lot of calm and peace” to her life, in general.

Finally, for Kim, “my faith is my anchor in my work, and in my life. We are called to love one another, and this applies to all facets of my life, including working relationships. Although there are all different cultures in the world, we are all more alike than we are different, and that is awesome.”  To sum it up, Kim says: “I approach everything with a spirit of kindness, loving what I do, and loving the people I am with.”

Please feel free to contact Kimberly Kaminski at her personal email kakaminski2952@gmail.com.  Her Twitter handle is @kkaminski2952.

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