Meet Kathleen Meil, Engineering Program Manager, San Francisco

September 18, 2017

What’s the best part about your job?

I am a Program Manager on our Engineering team, which means I work on cross-team and cross-function initiatives.

The best part is a tie: the variety of skills I get to build/use and the exceptional people. Right this moment, I’m listening to an amazing talk on how Kafka works (that I’m mostly grasping) from one of our exceptional engineers while (a) writing up a proposal/plan for one of the eng teams to travel to AZ during a peak season for their line of business, (b) helping to produce a report on hiring for our CTO/CEO, and (c) working on some slides for a customer event with our Sr. PM leaders. I admire these people and the work they do a great deal and I’m confident my work helps them too – that’s super satisfying.

What was your hardest day at Zenefits?

There have been lots of hard days! I won’t sugarcoat it.

Trying to care for so many customers, external and internal, and sometimes having to say “no” or “not yet” is just difficult. Setting goals that I know are of consequence and working hard/trying to be creative but still coming up short hurts, and makes me question if I’m good enough, or at all. The days that have really made me sad are goodbyes though. I know this is redundant but damn – working with people that teach me and demand more from me feels more personal than just trading my labor for the company’s money. Making something together is a very cool bond in life!

You win the Super Mega Mega Lottery (yes we made that up) and are financially set for the rest of your life. How do you spend your first year?

I love food, so I do 3 months of global Michelin star chasing, visiting the world’s museums and doing open water swims/trail runs in the morning to try not to turn into a column of cheese/butter (that’s how health works, right?).

Months 4-6 are for research! Since I assume I won the lottery on the backs of hopeful Californians, I gotta give back to them immediately; missed meals/food insecurity, shelter and addiction are the big causes I’d want to work on…I admit I already have a bias toward giving cash directly to people that need it, but I’d love to explore other options. Also I’d get a tax hero in my life, because I may have graduated beyond TurboTax.

Once I feel like I have some of the fun and the responsible pieces a bit under control, I’d def want to spend a couple of months volunteering to help my cousins, who live on St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands; they’ve been hit incredibly hard and I hope will have power/have some of the infrastructure to have more people around helping soon.

By the end of the year I think I’d be back trying to work on my own or support other folks’ tech innovations – either in health or to help small and medium-sized businesses. My family survived (on both sides) as immigrants here in the US by building businesses and I want to keep that possible/make it easier for families for generations to come.

How would you describe the culture of your team?

Engineering is resourceful, relentless, focused, brilliant, joyful and hilarious. Product and Design are thoughtful, organized, patient, curious and very connected/like a family. Altogether we’re a pretty damn great team of different viewpoints and skills, though we’re always on the lookout for more people that want to help make us wiser/teach us more!

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