Kimberly Embry

Sales Development Representative at Jama Software

How did you learn about PDXWIT and what keeps
you coming back?

After making the move to Portland from San Francisco last summer, a Google search was all I needed to find connections, friends, and community. And the giving didn’t stop there. Through PDXWIT’s Job Board, I found and landed my first tech job at Jama Software. The continuous opportunities, support, and friendships are enough to pledge devotion to PDXWIT as a new Portlander. But even more valuable is the ability to quickly connect and ground yourself in the local tech scene, and what luck to have it be in a community full of wonderful and powerful women. I hope to pay it forward as an active PDXWIT member, but all the more as an available listener, supporter, and mover for women looking to join the tech industry.

Can you give us some background on your career in tech?
Did you intend this career path?

Oh, gosh, no. A career in tech was never a part of my intended life plan. I’ve been addicted to fashion the majority of my life and was fully prepared and funded to open a women’s clothing store in Oakland. But as much as I wanted to realize one of my major #lifegoals, I knew I wanted something more. I wanted a thriving and dynamic career in an innovative industry that I could take with me anywhere in the world. A friend ended up suggesting I look into coding programs in San Francisco, and I was hooked. I suddenly (well, after many sleep deprived nights, intense growth, and shared tears) had this superpower. It was insanely tough, but it was also exciting; it was challenging; it was me. And as luck would have it, Jama Software gave me two brilliant women, Kristina King and Megan Bigelow, as both leaders and friends, whom after some deep existential exploration, supported me as I pursued and landed a full-time role on Jama’s sales team.

What’s the scariest, most overwhelming thing about your new project? The thing that keeps you awake at night.

Pivoting into the tech industry is scary, and so is making the lateral change from a customer support/technical role where I am comfortable and confident. I am once again in uncharted territory and have fully activated survival mode. You need a lot of self-motivation and self-effort to meet goals and numbers, and I am terrified I won’t meet the expectations I have of myself. Growth doesn’t require perfection, but it does require action. But as a perfectionist, the inability to aim for perfection can often exacerbate my anxieties and block me from making those actions. I don’t want to let my old team down. I don’t want to let my new team down. And I refuse to let myself down. I want to contribute and I want to succeed, and I pursue this in every facet of my life. While it can be tough to juggle all of the resulting thoughts and feelings, I know what I want. I want to make everyone and myself proud while retaining the capacity to be a lovable and dependable co-worker, friend, daughter, and partner.