by Katie Bouwkamp
Welcome to our employee spotlight series, featuring profiles on team members across our Bellevue, Boston, and UK offices. Learn more about the people behind the product and why Smartsheet is recognized as a great place to work!
Kara Lumley is a senior product manager working within Smartsheet’s Product Engineering department. Located at the Bellevue, WA office, she’s worked at Smartsheet for just over six and a half years. Kara was one of Smartsheet’s first 40 employees, starting out on the Support team, then transitioned to be a Customer Success Manager (CSM), and eventually moved to Product Management.
In one sentence, what’s your job right now?
I’m empowered to make decisions that help shape the future of a world-class product that users absolutely love.
Where were you before Smartsheet, and how did you end up joining our team?
I was at a small startup that ended being purchased by Oracle. Coincidentally, my former office is right across the street from Smartsheet. After the Oracle acquisition, a few of the engineers I worked with discovered and joined Smartsheet.
Over the next year, my former colleagues kept telling me how much they loved it, so I started a trial of the Smartsheet app, which sold me on wanting to be part of the team.
What is your favorite part of working at Smartsheet?
I love hearing how customers benefit from using Smartsheet. I don’t know of any other software that has made such a material impact on improving customers’ lives, both at work and at home.
A few years ago, a customer working for a local news station visited our offices. I’ll never forget this visit. He teared up a bit and said with the efficiency they’ve gained using Smartsheet, he was able to spend more time at home with his newborn.
The other day I received an email that said: “I very rarely brag, but some of my accomplishments with Smartsheet have impressed even me and have gotten the attention of the VPs and president of the company, not to mention my more immediate managers and peers.”
These customer responses aren’t exceptions; I hear stories like these every day. It’s one of the reasons why I’m still excited to come to work at Smartsheet, after all these years.
What does your typical day look like, before and during work?
I check my texts first thing in the morning. I usually have some from my daughter from the night before; she sends pictures of how she’s trying to sleep, but her cat is laying directly on her face. Then, I check the weather to see if I need my rain gear for the commute in on my motorcycle. Maybe someday I’ll check out some mindfulness or productivity apps; I’m open to new app recommendations!
Once I’m at work, there’s no typical day. Just when you think your day is all planned out, someone needs help, or a fire needs to be put out, or a new decision needs to be made. It’s fast-paced and I love that. If I have a secret superpower, it’s that I’m tenacious and always determined to find solutions that have a tremendous impact on our customers.
What is the one Smartsheet feature you couldn’t live without?
The Recently Opened and Pinned menu on the left panel, which was introduced last December as part of the new app navigation experience. The new menu is a game-changer for the way I work.
What is your advice for anyone looking to join Smartsheet?
Smartsheet will be different than any place you’ve worked at before. Be gritty, flexible, kind, curious ... and execute! Our values are not just lip-service. We all live them, from our CEO to the person who was hired a week ago.
Demonstrated in both our customer outcomes and the behavior of our teams, Smartsheet culture is authentic and purposeful. That’s been true from when we were 30-people strong to today, as we’re almost at 1,200 team members (and still growing!).
What is the biggest perk of working at Smartsheet's office?
The office is great (I can’t imagine working without stand-up desks and dual monitors), but the biggest perk is the people who work here. I’m grateful to be surrounded by extremely intelligent, skilled, and caring people who are passionate about ensuring that the right decisions are being made for Smartsheet.
In addition, we have access to great snacks every day. My favorite snack is definitely pairing Tillamook cheese with mini pretzels. During the summertime, our office team stocks our freezers with ice cream sandwiches, too!
What has been one of your proudest moments working at Smartsheet?
Being invited to our IPO at the New York Stock Exchange. It was a phenomenal and emotional once in a lifetime experience to see a brand that I love hit such a significant milestone.
Who is someone you admire at Smartsheet, and why?
This is such a difficult question! I can find admirable traits in each of the employees I know. My first thought was CEO Mark Mader. He leads us with such integrity and strategic thinking, plus he’s passionate about diversity and inclusion. There’s also my manager, Robin Sherwood, who takes risks, challenges the status quo, and manages to have this unflappable demeanor, making what I might consider “emergencies” much more reasonable. I admire Hannah Cohen on our office team, who keeps everything running with grace and efficiency. There are so many more examples with so many other people.
I would like to recognize and appreciate one person in particular: Kelly Anthony. She consistently goes above and beyond when people ask her for help. This generally means that the request is not on her radar of scheduled projects and needs to be worked on in a very short timeframe.
I’ve watched her career path grow rapidly because of her dedication, intelligence, and common sense. She started at Smartsheet as a Marketing Coordinator and is now a Senior Manager of Video Strategy on the Brand Marketing team, and it has been a delight to watch her grow professionally as her responsibilities increase.
Source: Smartsheet Blog
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