Brittany Benson: Could you tell us a little bit about your role at Sage, and what you think the best part of your job is?
Kimberly Graham: Absolutely! I'm Director of AI Transformation at Sage AI Labs which is also known as SAIL. This is the first position that I've had in my career where I'm part of an engineering team. Prior to that, I was always in sales, marketing, or customer success functions. As part of the engineering team, we’re focused on innovation, and more specifically what we can do moving forward to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning technology. I’m really enjoying having the opportunity to see such an exciting side to technology and innovation at Sage.
Brittany Benson: You touched a little bit on how this role is very forward-looking. Can you share a little bit about the type of impact you want to have in this role?
Kimberly Graham: In my role focused on AI transformation, my primary responsibilities are upscaling and helping ready the business, and even our customers, to be AI enabled. I'm excited about how we can take technology, apply it to our products, and genuinely make a difference. My first role at Sage was in 1999. With AI, I've seen the enthusiasm for this technology from our customers and partners, and how it's going to enable our customers to be more forward-facing and strategic, rather than reactive. It’s already helping them tremendously, and I’m so excited to see how our customers succeed in the future as they continue to embrace AI.
Brittany Benson: Our customers are critically important to Sage. Can you talk a little bit about how you make sure that your team works with a customer-centric framework in mind?
Kimberly Graham: Yes, customers are at the center of everything we do. It's part of our executive charter. When we're developing pilot projects or concepts, it's not all about technology or about slick, new features. It's about what we can do to help our customers, streamline processes, automate more tasks, and help them be more strategic in their roles.
Brittany Benson: You’ve had a very successful career here at Sage. Can you chat a little bit about how your leadership style has been shaped?
Kimberly Graham: Absolutely! Being part of the Sage AI Labs team has been one of the highlights of my career. Within the engineering team, and specifically the nature of the work of the SAIL team, it's all about trial and error, experimentation, fail fast and learn. It took a little bit of adjustment because I had a program and marketing background, where you want perfection at rollout. When you get into a different mindset that not only values experimentation but requires it – where you have a safety net to try things, experiment, and then apply lessons learned – I've realized the benefit of doing so and that's impacted me in many ways since it’s extremely empowering. From a leadership standpoint, I apply that, and also apply the strengths of individuals. I don't believe in a one-size-fits-all leadership style. I think that it should be adapted to specific individuals, to leverage working styles and experience.
Brittany Benson: You shared a bit of how this role is very open to trial and error and failing fast. Can you share some obstacles or challenges that you have encountered during that?
Kimberly Graham: Heading into this role about a year and a half ago, it really took a change of attitude to adopt that experimentation mindset. Once I got out of my own head, and was encouraged to just try and learn, it helped. When I think back to previous roles, where I felt like I needed to be 100% buttoned up and perfect at launch of a program or initiative, I realized that those were the times that I had more obstacles because I got caught in my own way. I got stuck and couldn't move forward. It’s liberating to feel like you've got the safety net and support around you to move quickly to try new things.
Brittany Benson: When you're not working on this super interesting aspect of the business, are there any off-work hobbies or passions that you pursue, for either adventure, relaxation, or both?
Kimberly Graham: Yes! Almost three years ago, my family relocated from Southern California to Northern Idaho, about 100 miles from the Canadian border in a suburb of Coeur d’Alene. We have a lot of family time and always enjoy the opportunity to go exploring. We love to go off-road, look for new trails up in the mountains, find new rivers and lakes, and learn about the history of our area. We spend a lot of time outdoors whenever we can! It’s been a lovely transition for the whole family!
Read the other colleague profiles who are part of Sage’s Women in Technology interview series.