Kitty Smith is the Global SRE Customer Liaison at Kyndryl. She is responsible for collaborating with Kyndryl country leadership and their delegates to ensure their SRE objectives are achieved and that they benefit from experiences collected from across the global SRE community. Acting as a liaison between the customer and Kyndryl leadership, she aligns relevant offerings with customer and market needs to help customers succeed in their business transformations.
On a day-to-day basis, what is your role at Kyndryl?
I’ve worked in a very wide variety of roles — generally moving into something new every three years. Some of these were IT specialist roles, and then different architectural roles. And while a lot of these jobs might have been different, they really have built on one another to shape me into the person I am today. Put more succinctly, I’m an engineer through-and-through.
On a day-to-day basis, my job is all about showing the customer that their business is our foremost concern. The enterprises that partner with Kyndryl are some of the most important in the world, places that keep the global economy running smoothly and efficiently. So I get to work with executives internally and externally to find modern ways of working by applying site reliability engineering practices to optimize their operations.
It sounds like, at Kyndryl, we often get to see the results of our work in everyday life.
We do, and that’s a big part of the job. It often helps that, at Kyndryl, we can approach the big projects of our customers as both engineers and consumers. I’ve been a go-to architect for some of our major airline and retail accounts, and it helps that being a consumer of these services brings more connectivity to the work I'm doing.
I remember once I was flying one of the airlines that also happened to be a customer, and noting just how much good work they were doing in regards to their own customer service and how they communicate in real time with people. I was at the airport, and I stopped to look at the arrivals and departures screen, and it was so cool knowing that I was part of a team that created the framework that allows consumers to be able to see and trust the information they are getting from those screens. Little moments like that compel me to do this work not just for myself, but for other people.
Now that you’ve been named by Kyndryl as a Distinguished Engineer, do you have a project or ambition you hope to take on right away?
Right out of the gate, I want to work on developing and retaining talent that attracts the best people, creates a competitive advantage for Kyndryl, and drives outcomes for our customers. This starts by setting stakes in the ground around culture.
What is it that got you into this field of work?
It’s a good question, and I think to a degree you can trace the answer back to my upbringing. I grew up in a large family, and my parents weren’t wealthy. I was a first-generation college student and didn't have a lot of guidance at the time, so I followed the path of least resistance. In school, math and science came so naturally to me, I suspect because it was straightforward and disciplined. The subject chose the student.
I went on to get a degree in Mathematics, actually, and then enrolled in graduate school for Engineering. And it was just that kind of journey for me, a systematic approach that guided me without really my intentionally following one particular path.
And now that I’m at Kyndryl, one big advantage, I think, is the freedom of thought and action that exists here. That’s going to be hard to find elsewhere. When I think about how much I’ve moved around in my career, and all the roles I’ve pursued, it was all about being a continuous learner and wanting to broaden my skills and knowledge. That’s something you can really embrace at Kyndryl, and what’s more, you have so many opportunities to apply new knowledge and skills to real-world situations.
After all that, how did becoming a Distinguished Engineer make you feel?
It’s funny, before I got the official word, I was really downplaying the idea that I’d ever achieve this distinction. I think it was part of a defense mechanism, so that if it didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be disappointed. But then it did happen and it was such a special moment. I remember I did a little happy dance, and it was in that moment that I understood this meant more to me than I’d realized. I really feel like I can wear this title with pride.