Our KaiNexus Continuous Improvement Podcast host, Mark Graban, interviews Kym Guilliotti, Director of Product at KaiNexus, about why she joined the company. You can now listen to the episode here or read the podcast transcript below.
Mark Graban: Hi, and welcome to the "KaiNexus Continuous Improvement" podcast. I'm Mark Graban from KaiNexus. Today, we have another episode in our series where we talk to KaiNexians or KaiNexus team members about why they've joined the company.
Today, we're joined by Kym Guilliotti. She is our director of product management. Welcome to the podcast, Kym. How are you?
Kym Guilliotti: Hi. I'm good. Thanks, Mark. How're you doing?
Mark: Good. Thank you for coming here and sharing a little bit about yourself and why you joined. Welcome to the podcast. I would say welcome to the company, but you've already been with us for what, about six months?
Kym: Yes. It feels longer surprisingly, but yeah, only six months.
Mark: I hope that's like standard startups speed like things are moving quickly, [laughs] when you say it feels longer.
Kym: Yes. When you first join any company, and especially with everything we have going on here, it was definitely a lot of drinking from the fire hose. I'm trying to keep my head above water. I feel I'm in a good spot now and love what I'm doing, love the company, so excited to be here.
Mark: That's great to hear. We'll talk about why you joined. First, and especially if you've been in the role for a little while now, tell the audience about the role. What is the director of product management at KaiNexus?
Kym: For those that aren't familiar with product management, product is the function in a company. It could be a software company or a manufactured goods company. It is the job function that sits in the middle of everything. The product person or product department is there to identify problems that the company can make money to solve.
When we look for problems, we typically look for three things. Is it a problem that is urgent? Is it pervasive, and are customers willing to pay it for a solution?
As we work, our market is continuous improvement. We look for problems in that space that we can then develop features to solve, in doing that, we work very heavily with our engineering, our developers and our testers, our QA department. There is also a very big customer facing side as well. We speak to a lot of prospects, a lot of existing customers.
It's to get firsthand information about the challenges, people face, maybe other tools that they're using to solve those, how their organizations and operations work, what their day to day looks like to have a full 360 degree view of who your customer is, and the challenges they face.
In addition to that, we also work with the customer facing functions in the company. In addition to the development and QA teams, I also work very heavily with sales, marketing, support, and our customer success managers.
Not only do we work on outlining the requirements of what goes into development to build, but then we also have the job of communicating to the customer facing teams, what's the value? Who are we building this for? Why are we building it? What does it solve for them?
Mark: It's a very important role and when you joined the company, you got thrown right into the work for the 3.0 release.
Kym: Yes. That was a very interesting time to join the company. During my onboarding, it was entertaining because I would get the training on, "Well, this is how this works today, but in about two months, it's going to work totally different. Just follow along and then after we hit that date, just forget what we've taught you." [laughs]
I was having to learn both versions at the same time but very happy once we made the switch and launched 3.0 and forget that, 2.X version, and now have a firm grasp of what we're doing moving forward.
Mark: It sounds maybe it was two fire hoses [laughs] at the same time.
Kym: [laughs] Actually, yeah, true. It was. It was good. It was good to understand, to get the background on where we were. Then, that gave me a better understanding of why we were making the changes we were in 3.0 and where that could take us in the future.
Although it made it a little bit confusing at the start, it was necessary information to have moving forward.
Mark: Back to the question that we like to ask people when KaiNexians join us here on the podcast. Why did you join KaiNexus? What was interesting about the company? What was appealing to you?
Kym: Well, prior to joining KaiNexus, I was doing some consulting. My background, I have about 10 years of product management background. I was doing consulting for a technology firm here in Dallas. I loved consulting because I could get my hands into a bunch of different projects, learn a bunch of different industries, different areas, tons of exposure. You learn things very quickly.
What I was missing in consulting was I like having that deep subject matter knowledge, as well as having true ownership over something. In consulting, it's you come in, you help, you pass it off, you're on to the next thing. I was looking for somewhere where I could have ownership over something long term. I found KaiNexus. I had my first meeting with Greg. You know Greg?
Mark: Greg Jacobson, our CEO. For those listening, they might know. They probably know. You met with Greg.
Kym: I met with Greg. His passion and enthusiasm for what we do is so infectious. You can't come out of a conversation with Greg and not want to get on the bus. Full transparency didn't even know what continuous improvement was. My little bit of knowledge I had about it was there are six sigma, and that's a thing.
Kym: I realized that's the tiniest little fraction of continuous improvement. When I look to join a company, I'm looking for a leader, someone I want to follow, someone that I can be inspired by. Then also, the type of work we do. I've been very fortunate thus far in my career that I have been passionate about the missions of the companies that I've worked for.
KaiNexus definitely fit the bill in both of those regards. How could you not want to be part of an organization that wants to help make people's lives a little bit better every day? I say people, not just companies because it's the people that work at those companies whose lives get better every day with what we do.
Then again, with Greg, his passion for the product, the space, our customers, and our coworkers, you can tell how much he deeply cares about people in general. It was inspiring. It was the perfect opportunity, so couldn't turn it down, and was happy that they thought I was a good fit to want me to join as well.
Mark: So much first impressions or it's the first six months impressions made the final question, I'll ask you, Kym. How would you describe the culture or the work environment within KaiNexus?
Kym: The culture is amazing. I know every place talks about their culture and having a great culture. I feel this is one of the first companies where it has been 100 percent spot on, if not better than how it was described to me during the interview process.
It is extremely collaborative, very open. Everybody is so nice and so willing to help out and care so deeply about each other and our customers and continuous improvement. I feel there are very few opportunities to work at a place where you have so many like minded people working towards a common goal.
It's refreshing. It's inspiring. It's motivating. It makes me happy to come to work every day, to see, "OK, what challenges are we going to solve next? What can we do?" It's been awesome. It's been interesting, too, starting a new job at a company during the pandemic.
I've never met you in person. I've only met a handful, maybe five or six, of my coworkers in person in the six months that I've been here. It's definitely been interesting. I feel despite working remote that I've gotten to know pretty much everybody in the company very well. It's been interesting. The culture is, it's amazing.
I can't even put into words. I can't find the words to give it justice. It's been so much fun. I'm so happy, like I said, that I got the invite to join the bus. [laughs]
Mark: That's great. There were a lot of words there to describe. There's probably also this feeling that is tougher to put into words. I'm happy to hear what you're describing in terms of first experience and what was sold to you during interviewing and then what you started experiencing.
That it was, as you said, better than expected or promised. That's good to hear. Let me put in a plug when you talk about opportunities to get together in person, KaiNexicon, our sixth annual KaiNexus User conference. When we say annual, it had been interrupted by two pandemic years.
We are excited to get together with our customers, to get together as a team, May 23rd to 25th in Austin. If you're a KaiNexus customer, we invite you to come participate. Kainexus.com/kainexicon has more information, or talk to your contacts at KaiNexus. Hopefully, we'll get you there to join us.
Kym, it will be good to see you there, and looking forward to KaiNexus and reconnecting with the team or connecting with those of you who have joined us recently. Thank you. I'm glad you're on board. Thank you for being here on the podcast today.
Kym: Thank you so much. It's been great.