#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Kat Hawthorne

“Leadership should be more participative than directive, more enabling than performing.” – Mary D. Poole

Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
I’m originally from Cary, North Carolina and I went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for my undergraduate degree. As a fun fact, I recently bought a 1979 BMW motorcycle that I’m attempting to fix right now.

Favorite website / app:
There are a bunch of interesting apps out right now, but two of my favorites are Google Photos and Pokemon Go. Google Photos is a fun product to use since it makes a normally disorganized and hard to search set of data (photos) much easier to navigate. Additionally, it has a ‘surprise and delight’ feature of the assistant putting together albums, stories, and fun collages intelligently for me so that when my parents ask for pictures of my most recent trip, I can just send them the link to what the app created for me. Pokemon Go is an exciting product because of how it incentivizes people to get out into the real world in order to play, unlike most video games that cause people to become more socially isolated.

Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
One of the scariest times in my life was when I was between my sophomore and junior years of college, and I was doing an internship in biochemical research at a pharmaceutical company. I thought that pharmaceutical research was what I wanted to do with my life; I had been working towards it for years. I had already applied to and got accepted for pharmacy school. But the work environment in pharmaceutical industry was not what I wanted for my life. I dreaded going to work every day of the internship because I was bored out of my mind and felt like my job should be replaced by a robot. I started teaching myself to program that summer, and when I got back to university in the fall I had switched my major over to computer science. It was scary and overwhelming to make such a drastic change halfway through college, but I managed to finish my major on time.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
One person is a coworker that I had, Vanessa Slavich, who is one of the strongest women I know and is tirelessly dedicated to the goals that she sets for herself. Her enthusiasm is infectious and she positively affects everyone around her. She’s one of the main reasons that I joined Square over 3 years ago when the program that she helped organize, Code Camp, convinced me that I was good enough to be a software engineer.

Song that makes you want to dance:
The Mowgli’s, San Francisco

Ideal Job:
10 years is a long time out! I’m currently taking everything day by day. That being said, I’ve been interested in biology and healthcare for a long time, and I want my next job to merge health with computer science. I hope that I’m also still an engineer (and not a manager) in 10 years, since I find building things to be very rewarding.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
Try. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re qualified or not. One of my (male) friends when he was looking for a new job said to me that he “only expects to be 60% ready for the next job that he takes”. Women have the tendency to look at a job posting or a requirements list and if they don’t meet everything on it, they don’t even try to apply. Men, however, ignore the requirements and apply anyway. When it comes time to choose who gets picked, many women have already self-selected out.

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