An interview with Kim Lim, Director of Project Management, Snipp Interactive – by Megan Prikhodko, COO, Snipp Interactive
We are pleased to present the second in a series of interviews by Megan Prikhodko, COO – Snipp Interactive on ‘Women in Tech’ at Snipp (and we have a lot of them!)
When people think of software companies, they think about developers, large monitors, and perhaps, all-night code-a-thons. The truth is that there are many roles involved in the creation, selling, and delivery of software and, at Snipp, our diversity extends into these roles. I sat down with our Director of Project Management, Kim Lim, to understand what it’s like to be a Project Manager, how her education led her to the role, and what she has ambitions to do next.
Q: Can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do at Snipp?
I am the Director of Project Management and I lead a team of Project Managers and Project Coordinators across the globe. I do a bit of everything, but I see my main role as supporting the operations and engineering teams to successfully execute programs. That can encompass anything from customer service to bug support to QA.
Q: You graduated with a Communications degree and, I just learned this about you, a minor in publishing. How did that education lead you to software?
Funny enough, I never intended to go into publishing, I minored in it because reading is a big hobby of mine and I just thought it would be interesting to study about it! In terms of Communications, I specifically chose the Simon Fraser University program because it was very well-rounded. I always felt a calling towards the tech industry and marketing so the courses I focused on were around technology, social media and advertising.
While I was in university, Obama was running for President for the first time and we analyzed his campaign because a huge part of his fundraising came from social media-this was at a time where companies rarely had social media departments. It was really inspiring to see that going on related to what I was learning.
Q: I believe you attended an all-girls high school, Little Flower Academy and recently went back to speak at career day. How did attending an all-girls school shape your career? Was there a computer science curriculum? What was it like to go back and speak to young women about your career?
I think the biggest thing for me going to an all-girls school was that I came out of high school with high confidence. For me, I didn’t feel the need to focus on physical appearances that I may have in a mixed gender school. It allowed me to focus on my studies and learn who I wanted to be and who I was. It was a competitive school and because it was a single-gender school, it made it easy for me to focus on the education having less distractions. During my time, there was only 1 IT class (which I of course took).
I credit my family for being the drivers of my love for technology. I grew up with computers around the house, my Dad is an engineer, and my older brother is specifically a computer science engineer. Their influence contributed to my hopes that I would find my way into the tech industry. My brother would play video games and I’d steal the control and play when he wasn’t around. As far back as I can remember, there was always a computer in our house, so I always hoped I would find my way to tech.
This year was the second time I have spoken at my high school’s Career Day. The first year I presented, I was the only woman in tech speaking and this year, there were 3 of us so we conducted a panel session. The girls were so inquisitive and had a lot of good questions which I was impressed with. I think that myself and the two other young women on the panel helped inspire them to explore the variety of careers available in tech. It was interesting because one of the other women speaking on the panel also studied communications but ended up being in a QA role. The girls were really interested to see that you could transition from a non-IT degree to a tech role.
Q: Since starting as a Project Coordinator, you’ve made multiple transitions to your current position as Director of Project Management. How have you handled the changes in your position and the new responsibilities? What are the challenges in managing?
Learning is so important to me and so as I progressed it was important to master skills at each level. As a PC I focused on how I could support the PM and essentially lessen their work. Since I thought that way, I learned so much and that enabled me to be promoted. When I became a PM, I worked on my leadership skills as I was working more closely with clients and developers.
To do this, I needed great communication and leadership skills. I think every leader can learn new things and I found myself stepping outside of my role and helping with additional things. I moved to become a PM Team Lead and continued to do those same things, but also mastered improving and setting up processes. Eventually it led to my current role as Director of PM and now I’m trying to learn more strategy and understand the bigger picture of the company’s direction.
Q: It is so hard to focus on strategy and big picture when you are used to executing. Have you experienced this?
Yes, and there are just so many ways to address or solve things and try things. It’s hard to quickly know what will work best for the company. I’m forever learning!
Q: What are some of the tools you’ve used along the way? How did you learn about communication, leadership, process, and strategy?
I read a lot of books and I fluctuate between management and leadership books, but also take breaks with fiction. I like adding in the fiction because it provides bursts of creativity and allows me to see the worlds they create. I also try to listen on a lot of calls. Some people might not find that productive, but it helps me to see other people’s views and understand what they are dealing with. I also find that just by listening, you can learn a lot.
Q: You’ve pursued different certifications, how have these extra courses and sources of studies contributed to your work?
I am a CSM and PMP and in February, I’ll be going for the Certified Scrum Product Owner certification. For me it’s interesting to learn industry standards. Although you don’t have to apply them rigidly it helps to have that larger tool belt that you can pick and choose from when needed.
Q: One question I like to ask as there is such a stigma or idea that women are treated differently in tech is do you feel that women in technology careers face barriers not faced by their male counterparts? What are some challenges you’ve faced?
I rarely encounter this issue myself, but I have friends who have. For me, as someone without an engineering/development education, I sometimes experience developers who get frustrated with explaining new concepts to me, a non-developer. I brush this off though and don’t take it personally because I know that on their end, it can be challenging to try and explain concepts thoroughly but simply enough so that I in turn can explain things to our clients who are likely also non-technical.
Q: What’s the most exciting part of working for a software company?
No day is EVER the same. While I like some structure, I love the variety of the work and challenges that I get to solve. You’re forever learning.
Q: Who are some leaders in the tech industry who you watch or appreciate?
I appreciate watching people, especially women “fight the good fight.” Currently I am enjoying watching Arlan Hamilton work to try and change the way Ventral Capitals fund potential startups. As a black, queer woman, she is working to fund startups of underrepresented founders who may have been turned down by traditional VCs. She particularly focuses supporting women of color as they are extremely unrepresented and get the least amount of capital.
Q: What advice would you give your younger self or any woman pursuing a career in the tech industry? Don’t feel like you must limit this question to just women, but if you have specific advice for women, then that would be good to hear.
You can’t be stagnant, just be willing to learn and explore the various careers in tech. There are things like marketing, support, client management that aren’t super technical roles. A lot of tech is needed by all industries and if you are interested in it, live it and enjoy it. You could potentially be a Product Owner or a Project Manager without a tech background because you may understand the users experience differently than a developer.
Q: What’s next for you? Where do you want to be in the next 5 years?
I’m having a hard time imagining where I’ll be in 5 years as I never thought I’d get to my current role this quickly. I think that’s one of the beautiful things about tech, if you’re driven you can grow. I really want to focus on building teams and helping them function to the highest level of their strengths. Part of that is shifting their mindsets. I don’t necessarily care about a bigger title, I want to focus on growing teams and the individuals in the teams.
Something a mentor told me is that the best Project Managers are invisible. They run the project in the background so well that you won’t hear of issues once a project is complete. I would love to get myself and my PM team to that level consistently.
Thank You. Stay tuned for more in this series in the coming months.