The Tale of Two Women (Tech) Professionals

Mar 11, 2019 | Career

Our city is teeming with intelligent, accomplished businesswomen making an impact on our community. Recent college grads, seasoned account executives, and future CEOs come together to create Louisville’s robust professional community — unafraid to work hard and make their dreams a reality. These two women are making waves in the technology and UX design fields.

The Master: Haleh Karimi

Haleh Karimi has been in the technology field for over two decades. Her experience ranges from hands-on programming and application development to IT program management and now collegiate teaching. Haleh earned her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, CSI and Management from Central Missouri State University; her Executive MBA in Business Intra/Entrepreneurship from Bellarmine University; and is currently pursuing her doctorate in IT strategic management from Sullivan University. During her career, she has worked for Fortune 500 companies Colgate Palmolive and Coca-Cola Enterprises and served as the department chair for Sullivan University’s Dynamic Web Development Department Program. She is now a professor at the University of Louisville and serves as executive director of the nonprofit organization Interfaith Paths to Peace. She is passionate about changing the current landscape of the IT industry to produce more graduates who are equipped with the skills required to be successful in this field.

What initially sparked your interest in the technology field?

“I originally studied nursing and quickly realized that was not the field for me. I sat down and started analyzing my strengths and weaknesses and learned that I am very analytical, process oriented, and I like to solve problems. I researched technology, took a few classes, and realized IT is fantastic because every programming project is like a little puzzle to solve. I had to use my analytical skills, creativity, and problem-solving skills.”

What is your favorite thing about your job?

“Being able to transform lives for the better is very rewarding,” Haleh says. “Whether I’m in the classroom or at an event giving a speech I can educate and inspire people to be better human beings. My mother always said education is the most valuable asset you can have because no one can take it away from you. I feel like I am in a position to provide that for people.”

What is your biggest career accomplishment?

“Being an educator is a huge accomplishment, but also my work with Interfaith Paths to Peace. The organization recently earned the award for The Art of Inclusivity from the Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNPE). That was huge in my opinion because we serve as a shining light to create peace and inclusivity in our community.”

What is your biggest career goal?

“To put myself in the position to seriously decrease the skills gap that we are witnessing in the IT community. It hurts to see college graduates unable to get a job because they don’t have certain skills. That’s why I’m pursuing my Ph.D. in IT Strategic Management, so I can determine where the skill gap lies, figure out where we can fill that gap, and empower graduates to become better future employees.”

What advice would you give a young woman who is interested in entering the technology industry?

“Go for it, believe in yourself, and don’t be afraid,” Haleh says. “I think women are more analytical and process oriented, and there are so many different paths to take in technology. I encourage girls to get out of their comfort zone and pursue passions that might provide them better opportunities. Do an analysis of your strengths and weaknesses, shadow people within technology, and take a class or two. We need people who have an understanding of technology, but yet can communicate, solve problems, and be creative.”

The Next: Caitlin Cambron

Caitlin Cambron’s passion for User Experience (UX) design was sparked at a young age — whether she realized it or not. After seeing her mother face the problem of losing pieces of her jewelry, Caitlin developed a solution by creating a jewelry box to house her jewelry.

“This was a big moment for me,” she says. “It was the first time that I remember using art to solve a problem. I was doing something I enjoyed while making something useful for someone else. Later I learned that this is called User Experience Design.”

After changing majors twice, Caitlin ultimately decided to focus on graphic design. She graduated from Ball State University with a bachelor’s degree in visual communication and Spanish. She joined the Interapt team in 2015 as a visual and UX intern. Fast forward to 2018, and several promotions later, she now serves as the director of design and UX at Interapt. As a UX designer Caitlin works to create web apps, mobile apps, progressive web apps, desktop apps, and websites that work intuitively creating a streamlined user experience. Through discovery meetings, in-depth research, prototype development, and product testing, Caitlin and her team are able to create products that change the way the world interacts with technology.

Were you always interested in software development, design and UX? What initially sparked your interest in this field?

“Art and design are what really led me to technology. I am a very organized, analytical person, but my mind also functions better when I’m doing art. Through my web design class, I realized that I can make pretty websites all day, but if people can’t use them then there’s no point. At the time I didn’t realize that was called UX.”

What is your favorite thing about your job and UX as a whole?

“I love the people I work with, mentoring those who are more junior than me, and learning from management staff who have more experience than me. As for UX in general, I feel like I’m serving people because I have to listen to the users, and translate what they want into a set of data to implement in an app, product or website that solves their problem. I get to see well-designed results that people like based on data.”

Out of all your career successes, what is your proudest accomplishment?

“There are a couple of products for two large healthcare companies that are some of my proudest career moments because I was working with a great team, and I know that we did good work. We took surveys to collect qualitative and quantitative data before, during, and after development, and we determined that we empirically improved people’s lives.”

What is your ultimate career goal?

“That’s hard to answer because three years ago I was an intern and now I’m a director, so it’s all moving pretty fast. What I would really like to do is make the UX team at Interapt super successful. I have several goals for us in 2019, and if we hit those goals our work will have a huge impact on the whole UX community. Ultimately I would also like to help create a more diverse workforce in the technology community and help remove barriers.”

What advice do you have for other young women interested in entering the technology field?

“If children, especially girls, were encouraged to get involved with math and science at a younger age I think we would see more women in technology,” she says. “Talk to me because that is something I’m passionate about. Also talk to other people in the field who are in positions that you want and buy them coffee. People are super willing to get women into technology, but I think you just have to ask.”

Extra tidbit: This woman has developed an innovative idea for dealing with hearing loss — and it could save you some money.