Keep Swimming, Madam President

March 08, 2023 7 min Read

The resiliency that carried Kristin Puzon to the top of the Chairman’s Club. In her own words.

“I was a swimmer all through my childhood and I remember those feelings I’d get before I’d step up on the blocks: it’s that feeling of ‘Oh no, I don’t want to do this - but let’s do this!”

And so, when you start to get even a glimpse of Kristin Puzon’s backstory, you begin to see the resilience, drive, and curiosity that have been building her entire life. At Expedient, those traits push her in her role as Client Advisor – and pushed her to the title of President of Chairman’s Club in 2022, the first woman to earn the honor. So, to point the spotlight in her direction for Women’s History Month, we asked her how she got here.

Career paths in technology are often non-linear. Kristin’s story aligns with that. Growing up, her father was a computer programmer whose work moved the family from city to city every few years. “I grew up all over -East Coast, West Coast, and the Midwest. We were always moving when I was little. My dad actually is in computer science. He was a programmer, so he got in with a group of programmers who would work for insurance companies and they’d settle into a place for about two to three years, do a huge project, move on.”

She finally settled in Wisconsin. While she was exposed to technology through her father’s work, it was never a focus growing up. “I have another sister so it was us two girls and he treated us as if he had sons. Let’s go watch Star Wars. Here, play on the computer.”

Later, though, she was hesitant when pushed toward a network admin role. “I was working at a bank and one of my best friends was over in the bank’s network support area. She said, ‘Hey, I’m leaving the bank. I’m going to this other company, but I’ve told my boss that you are my replacement… That blew the doors wide open for me. And that started my whole path of my technical career.”

“It's okay to be scared. It means that you're pushing yourself and you're moving towards a goal that you probably should be moving toward.”

It wouldn’t be the last time she was coaxed into a career move that opened doors. An aunt, who sold software, encouraged Kristin to enroll in a tech bootcamp, training “people with social skills” (she said, somewhat tongue-in-cheek) to take customer-facing tech support roles. With a Windows NT Server 4.0 MCSE and CompTIA A+ certification in hand, her next move was to New Jersey to build computers. Then, the same friend who got her into the network admin side at the bank, lured her back home to Wisconsin to do a helpdesk role at a telecom company. Each career move rounded out her skillset, all influenced by opportunities that came from her network.

Later, she was once again pushed to try something new. “I never thought in a million years that I would do sales. I thought, ‘No way, not going to do it.’ And once again, it was one of my friends who pushed me. They encouraged me, ‘No, you could be really good at sales’… I really honestly didn’t think I could do it, but it was someone pushing me and saying, ‘Yeah, you’re not seeing your whole value.’ And they were right. I later realized, “OK, sales is developing relationships.’”

And building that relationship is at the heart of her role as a client advisor at Expedient. “I want to know what makes [my clients] tick and what’s making their company run. And then I want to be able to help them if they’re having an issue. I honestly, truly care. I want to help my clients. And I think that’s what’s really important about this role: you’re always having clients come to you. Every day I get an email about either a tiny little issue or a huge issue. And you have to be able to respond appropriately, quickly, and let them know, ‘We care. We are here for you. We’re your partner. We’re going to work through this with you.’”

Her role isn’t just building relationships and better understanding her clients, though. It’s building relationships with her colleagues as well.

“I’ve learned it’s okay to be scared. It means that you’re pushing yourself and you’re moving towards a goal that you probably should be moving toward. I learned that in swimming too.”

In the pool, it’s you against the clock. You don’t have a network backing you up. At work, though, “you find your allies. That’s what I’m looking for. You find your allies in both men and women and just go to them when you need them, you know, just to boost you up, get you back on track. So that’s what I do when I hit those bumps in the road – I ask for help. And I have that support system. I’m so thankful that Expedient has wonderful people that I can work with.”

“You find your allies in both men and women and just go to them when you need them, you know, just to boost you up, get you back on track.”

In technology, no two days are the same. It’s part of the challenge that comes with working in technology. What worked yesterday sometimes doesn’t work today. What worked for one client might not work for another. Confidence sometimes comes and goes. So does the nervous energy of walking into a meeting.

“And so I’m still learning to harvest that energy. Don’t turn it into being freaked out, turn it into fuel to keep moving forward.”

How’s that working out for her? Well, the big Chairman’s Club trophy says it worked out last year.

“I’ll be honest with you, it wasn’t even on my radar to be president. It was just on my radar that, ‘yeah, we’ve got to make it again. We’ve got to make it into Chairman’s Club again this year.’ Just keep moving forward. Keep going, keep going, keep selling. So that’s how I do it in swimming or running or with selling, it’s ‘just keep moving forward.’”

Yeah, that sounds about right. And it seems to be working. We’re excited to see what’s next for the President.

The goal of the Women of Expedient networking group is to promote internal community building and mentorship, while also empowering and networking with women within the technology industry.

For more information, contact Molly Perenic.

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