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From Program Management to the CEO’s Right Hand – Kimberley Never Takes No for an Answer

Jasmine Davis Manager, Internal Communications Published 26 Oct 2020

Straight out of college, Kimberley began pursuing her dreams by taking chances and risks. She wanted to work for IBM, but when she interviewed the only roles available were in the call center. She accepted the role, worked hard, and in less than a year she was promoted out of the call center and worked her way up the ladder – all because she had taken a chance and wanted to prove she could do it. Never taking ‘no’ for an answer, Kimberley made her way to Extreme five years ago as a program management contractor, then Director of the PMO before accepting a new challenge as the Chief of Staff to the CEO this April. In August, she added Head of Diversity and Inclusion to her title. See how Kimberley advances with us!

Why did you choose Extreme?

I came to Extreme originally as a contractor and decided to stay because I fell in love with the culture. I’ve worked for very large companies in the past, but what excited me about Extreme was the roll up your sleeves, get it done vibe. I embraced the exciting environment of being able to make things happen. Fun fact, I actually started the day Ed Meyercord took over as CEO.

What do you like about your new role as Chief of Staff?

I’ve had the opportunity to run very large programs and projects – some as large as $50 million! I’ve come to realize that the core of who I am is a planner, a strategic thinker, and a leader. This new role allows me to leverage my core skillset while supporting our CEO and executive team. It’s thrilling to see the company from this new perspective. Instead of looking up, I now have a bird’s eye view of the company, and it’s super exciting – I’m truly humbled by the opportunity.

In addition to your role as Chief of Staff, you’re also our new Head of Diversity and Inclusion. Can you tell us a little about your goals for the new role?

As Head of Diversity and Inclusion, I’ll partner with the HR organization and serve as a change agent that influences the organization on matters of diversity and inclusion, both internal and external. This includes the coordination and strategic planning for the development and implementation of programs in alignment with our core values to ensure inclusion for all employees. It’s very important to me that every employee feels that they have a “level playing” field here at Extreme, and their differences are what they bring to the table as added value. Unlike other companies where I have worked, we have full support from our CEO, Ed, and the E-team. We are currently forming a Diversity Council that will oversee all of our initiatives in the D & I space.

[Kimberley and the Extreme RDU office celebrating International Women’s Day]

What’s your favorite memory at Extreme been so far?

Right now. Seriously, I think crisis exposes who we really are, and I’ve seen Extreme rise to the challenges of the pandemic – we’ve beaten the street with our numbers, and everyone is pulling together. It’s a great time to be at Extreme! The teamwork and tenacity of our people is incredible. They’re rising above themselves to reach for the stars.

What inspires you, and why?

I’m inspired when someone tells me, “We cannot do this; it just will not work.” I’ve always been driven to figure out a way to make it happen. It’s an amazing feeling when you’re able to make something happen when you didn’t think it was possible at the beginning of the day. Looking back on my career and life and seeing all the challenges that I’ve had to overcome is empowering. It just goes to show that you should never get discouraged by a challenge.

Tell us a fun fact about you.

I’m a seeing-eye human for my 17-year old blind dachshund. He’s so resilient, and I learn so much from him. He might have lost his sight, but he wants to keep on living life to the fullest, so he’s adapted and learned his way around. It’s very inspiring.  

[Kimberley and Zeus]

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to move up at a company as you did?

I highly, highly recommend mentorship and sponsorship. These are game-changers. Mentorship helps you identify what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. As for sponsorship, these are people who believe in you and speak up for you and your contributions when you are not in the room.

When many of us come out of college, we have degrees, but we have no idea what that looks like in practice. With mentors and sponsors, we can see through their lens and decide if that’s the career route we want to take.

Lastly, always have a roadmap! Even if you’re tearing it up on year four or five, have a plan of where you want to be so that you are always working towards a goal. Without a roadmap, we never know when we arrive at our destination.

Though there are more women in technology than when you started 20 years ago, it is still predominantly male. What are your thoughts on how we can continue to narrow the gap?

Women who are already in tech have to get out there and inspire other women to enter the field. Younger women looking in may not know what the field is like. We have to open the door and show them. We have to speak to girls to help them form an interest in STEM early on. I highly recommend getting involved with organizations that do this. I volunteer my time to help my local community, and it’s one of my most rewarding experiences.

[Kimberley in Kenya with students]

Join Kimberley and the rest of the team!

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