Meet Kellie Walton, VP of Strategy!
Kellie is one of our Isovera veterans and is hugely instrumental in our company’s growth, team culture, and (as you’ve probably guessed) business strategy! In her day-to-day, you can catch her scoping out client projects, collaborating with partner agencies, leading our RFP division, guiding clients through Discovery sessions, helping everyone put out fires, and so much more!
To take a glimpse into Kellie’s world, we sat down for a quick interview with her.
What is your background in?
I’ve worked in tech my entire career, but I’ve worn numerous hats over time.
I started as a product manager – that’s where I got interested in website development – and then I worked as a web developer for a bit. From there, I did design work, which was really my focus for the early part of my career. When I had my kids I took some time off. I got back into the workforce as a PM and then got into more of the business-side of things.
What is your favorite part of doing what you do?
I love seeing someone learn or benefit from something I’ve done!
In particular, I really enjoy projects when you can see their results. Part of my career was spent in the museum vertical, and I loved seeing people using the interactive exhibits I’ve worked on. In web development, much of what we do is somewhat theoretical. Unless you do user testing or analytics, it can be harder to see tangible results, and so when you are able to see others achieve something from what you did, it’s SO satisfying.
How would you define strategy?
To me, strategy is having a view from 30,000 ft; it’s needing to think of various outcomes, anticipating future needs, mitigating risk, being ready for anything. I think strategy is also tied to knowledge and experience, since much of that anticipation comes from knowing past outcomes.
I think we tend to get hunkered down into the small things: creating tickets, going through tasks, marching to an end goal, etc, so it’s sometimes hard to see the big picture.
Strategy is being thoughtful of the big picture and being open to new ideas, recognizing new tech, looking for risks, and staying on top of trends.
For firms with no dedicated strategy resource, how would you recommend incorporating strategy into workflows?
If there’s no one dedicated, it’s on everyone! When tackling a task, ask “what are the project goals; does my task further this end goal”. If the answer is no, then maybe you want to find a strategy.
Do you think strategy should dictate implementation, or the other way around?
It’s a balance, especially when you enter into a project that already has immovable variables like budget or timeline. Strategy comes in for making the best choices without sacrificing quality. It’s a balancing act. It’s a collaboration.
Do you have any tried and true digital strategy tools?
I lean heavily on client workshopping. It’s really important to spend a lot of time in discovery. You need to know what you’re building before you build it.
Often workshops include things like relationship building exercises, card sorting, writing on stickies, and drilling into what ifs. I like to try and poke holes in workflow and I love to get everyone involved–you learn so much and from people you wouldn’t expect!
Name three things to include when creating a solid strategy… Ready? Go!
- Knowledge application!
Life Lesson Learned: don’t be rigid — be flexible! Things change: requirements, staff, tech.
What’s the most important life lesson you’ve learned on the job?
I think probably “don’t be rigid”. Be flexible. Stuff changes. Requirements, staff, technology. Be flexible and open. I believe you should advocate for things you think work, but listen to others too.
Are there key elements that you think makes for a good project?
Oh man, I can think of a couple of things! Really understanding what you’re trying to achieve. Having the right team (and having trust) in place. I also think a big piece is having an engaged client that is willing to commit the time it takes to deliver a world class project.
What’s something about digital strategy that is always changing?
I’d say two things: people are always looking for the next shiny object and tech moves fast. New technologies are always popping up, and you could spend a whole career chasing the next thing, so you’ve got to find a balance.
For instance, I loved flash and worked in flash and created things for flash, but the technology is dead now. The balance I find though, is that while flash is gone, what I learned from using it is applicable, like writing scripts or animation work. There’s always something you can take from one to the next.
What fuels you?
I’m a planner and a problem solver; I’m fueled by a love of figuring things out. I was the kid that liked building forts rather than playing them!
I’m also inspired by working with interesting people. I don’t want to say that I’d never want to be the smartest person in the room, but I thrive when I work with people smarter than I am, or that have a clever way of tackling things. It makes me excited about work!
If you were a superhero, what would your name be?
The Problem Crusher!