In this month’s Beyond the Data feature, we’re heading down to Austin, Texas to meet Kate Wilhelm, an extraordinary, live-music-loving Regional Sales Director that has an authentic passion for helping customers solve complex problems with data.
Tell us your name, where you’re from, and a little about you.
My name is Kate Wilhelm and I was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico where I, along with my three brothers and parents, spent years in the University of New Mexico community cheering on the New Mexico Lobos. In fact, legend has it that “Everyone’s a Lobo…Woof Woof Woof!”
From there I moved to North Carolina with my family and ultimately ended up in Austin, TX attending the University of Texas, and double majoring in Government and Spanish. My move to Austin felt like a breath of fresh air. The people, the vibe, and the live music made (and continues to make) me feel right at home.
After college, I moved to San Francisco for three years to get out of my comfort zone and stretch my wings professionally. SF continues to be my favorite city on planet earth.
I now live back in Austin with my wonderful husband, Philip, my three step kiddos, Francie, Heidi, and JJ, my son Jack, and my two fluffy corgis Ginny Weasley and Action. As an added bonus, I somehow convinced my parents to move here too! Lots of love in Austin, TX.
Walk us through your professional background.
From the time I was in elementary school, I had aspirations of becoming a Politician and changing the world! I then spent one summer interning at the Texas State Capitol and once complete, I promptly ran out of the front door, across the sweeping lawn, never to return.
However, if there is one thing that four years and many tuition dollars studying Government did teach me (thank you, mom and dad!), it is that I really love people. I love working to understand what drives them, what inspires them, and what makes them make the decisions that end up defining their lives.
As such, I bravely entered into the world of technology sales.
Aside from my years tying up the family computer and phone line on AOL Instant Messenger, I had zero background in technology post-college. What I found in my seven years at SHI International Corp, a large IT Reseller HQ’d in Austin, TX, was that technology was literally shaping our future, and if I wanted to truly change the world, I needed to latch on to this “technology” thing and figure out what the heck was going on.
SHI took me to San Francisco, where I had an opportunity to work with some of the world’s largest and fastest-growing technology companies. I found myself engrossed in my role as “Strategic Technology Advisor,” and when my clients all began moving to the cloud, I decided to make the leap from “IT Generalist” to “Cloud Consulting Specialist” at an AWS Premier Consulting Partner called Onica.
In the cloud, clients moved more quickly, and without the burden of managing on-premises hardware, they began working to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems. What I began to find was that all of the most exciting and truly revolutionary conversations in which I had an opportunity to participate, involved data. Thus, I once again made the leap.
What does Regional Sales Director mean? What do you actually do in any given day?
My role as Regional Sales Director begins with education. phData does so many amazing things, and a big part of the strategy that I implement with our partners and clients is how best to share this information in a relevant and meaningful way.
I ask a lot of questions, and I love strategizing with my partners, my internal teammates, and my clients, to arrive at the most impactful outcome.
My job involves a lot of hustle, a lot of relationship building, and a lot of active listening. My hope at the end of each day is that I’ve gained a deeper understanding of our offerings, and a deeper understanding of the needs of my clients and partners.
From there, it’s simply a matter of connecting the dots.
What ultimately convinced you to join phData?
It was clear from the beginning that phData was a family. I was at a professional and personal crossroads when I began conversations with phData, and I was really looking for a new sense of community.
2020 was a really tough year. It felt very isolating at times, and my conversations with phData truly made my heart feel full.
I also really loved the Project Challenge. I was so impressed by the amount of time that Senior Leadership spent helping me to prepare, and by the time investment during the presentation itself. I could not have made a better choice for myself and my happiness.
As a newish phData employee, how was your onboarding experience?
I felt at home from the moment I joined phData. From the welcome package to the personal walkthrough of new tools & services, to the group onboarding calls around our GTM Strategy, History, and Values. phData practices what it preaches in every possible way, and I continue to be impressed by this company every single day.
What surprised you most about working at phData?
I assumed in coming to phData that I would grow professionally, but I did not think that I expected to feel such a big shift in my own personal happiness. Each week, I have an opportunity to take part in the Communication Foundations Communities of Practice workshop, where we break down barriers, fears, and common misconceptions, in order to become better communicators and better people. I don’t know any other companies that are investing in programs like this!
In addition to the personal growth opportunities, I feel truly heard at phData. The leadership team makes themselves so available to help, to listen, and to support. Every single individual with whom I have interfaced is so kind, so patient, and (above all else) brilliant. I feel beyond lucky to be here.
Which one of phData's core values resonates with you the most and why?
Psychological Safety 100%. People are more open, people feel safe, people feel loved. I feel so honored by the relationships that I have already had an opportunity to form here, and I think these are due in large part to the safety that people feel showing up to work each day as their true selves.
Psychological Safety breaks down barriers, and that makes us stronger together.
Outside of work, what's your life like? What do you do for fun?
I grew up playing every sport that was made available to me. Tennis, baseball, soccer, basketball, you name it. These days, I spend more time reminiscing about my glory days on the basketball court, but I still maintain that I can destroy my little brother in a game of Around the World.
As a family, we love being outside, swimming in the newly completed backyard swimming pool, and throwing the tennis ball to our ridiculously loud and very bossy corgis.
We love live music and make it a point to travel around the country at least 3-4 times a year to catch a show and dance like nobody’s watching (and I truly hope they are not).
Finally, with so many humans and creatures living in my house, I practice Transcendental Meditation and make a point to run or work out every single day. Lest I completely lose my mind.
Where would you like to go for your next vacation?
There is nothing better to me than exploring a city on foot. Museums, restaurants, people watching – I love it! I’d love to go back to Paris & Amsterdam.
Want to work alongside Kate?
Our team is growing! Check out our job board to see our current openings.