Katia Kemp has a mind for math and a heart to help others
In this edition of BBVA Compass‘ Employee Spotlight series, read about how Katia Kemp’s passion for numbers contributes to teams throughout the bank and how her desire to give back is brightening lives and communities throughout Birmingham — the bank’s headquarters city.
Position: Lead IT Project Manager for Engineering Operations Administration
Location: Birmingham, Ala.
What do you do at the bank?
I began working with BBVA Compass in 2011 as a Senior Sourcing Manager in Procurement, where I purchased products and services for IT, negotiated prices and placed contracts. In 2013, I moved to Talent & Culture to be a Senior Project Manager, where I coordinated the implementation of several projects. Most recently, I collaborated with a diverse team of employees and worked in an agile format to improve the bank’s onboarding process for new employees. In July, I moved to Engineering Operations Administration and Automation Support to be a Lead IT Project Manager. Engineering Operations is responsible for all back office operational processes in the bank.
How do you and your team help contribute to the bank’s success?
In my role as a Lead IT Project Manager for Engineering, I work with our team on process automation and project management support to help the Operations areas achieve their efficiency goals. By doing so, we help the bank with the efforts to achieve unrivaled efficiency.
You have made several career moves while at the bank. What is your advice to others interested in advancing their career at BBVA Compass?
Challenge yourself and go after opportunities. Have a goal and define what you want for your career. Most of all, don’t be afraid to learn a new role or move to another department. Step out of your comfort zone.
It’s not uncommon for employees to seek career advice from you. What’s been the latest inquiry?
Just the other day, an employee asked me how he could grow his career at the bank. I told him that the best thing to do is to focus on what you already have — soft skills such as a good attitude, good values and a strong work ethic. For things you may lack, like certain technical skills, you can take classes, work with a mentor or read to gain the knowledge. But don’t get discouraged. If good behaviors are in you, you can learn everything else.
What unique technical and nontechnical skills do you bring to BBVA Compass?
As a project manager, I have been able to use my skills of organization, problem-solving and discipline to ensure that department initiatives are successfully implemented. The ability to collaborate and coordinate efforts with other team members is important, too. When you combine efforts, you can accomplish so much more. Teamwork is key to the bank’s success and aligns with our values.
How is the bank supporting your professional growth?
In 2015, I used the bank’s Tuition Assistance Program to take the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification preparation course, which helped me pass the exam to become a certified PMP. I’ve also participated in the bank’s Talent Program, a leadership development program which allowed me to complete a variety of online professional development courses related to leadership, communication and presentation skills.
The bank’s Summer of Opportunity program allows employees to give back by surprising people or organizations with $25 gift cards. How did you use your card?
I donated my card to Pathways, a shelter that serves more than 1,300 homeless women and children a year in Birmingham. They provide housing, clothing, food, job search assistance and hygiene items. A friend invited me to their open house in spring, and I was moved by the residents’ testimonies. The way Pathways is helping turn around lives touched my heart so much that when I heard about Summer of Opportunity, I knew I wanted to help. This is a great opportunity to help others and show how the bank cares about its communities.
Have you always had a heart to help others?
When I was a kid growing up in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I would watch my mom and my dad buy food once a month to fill church baskets for the homeless. That set a standard for me. Once I started working at BBVA Compass, I started volunteering through Junior Achievement, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching students about financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. I’ve volunteered with Junior Achievement for the last three years, teaching classes to students in Birmingham City Schools. One of the reasons I am able to volunteer is because the bank allows employees to take 16 hours a year, while at work, for community service. I love working for a company that encourages employees to get involved in the community. Many companies do not do that.
What did you want to be while growing up in Brazil?
I loved math. While my brother and his friends were outside playing soccer, I was inside, working on math problems. When I was 16, I asked myself, “What can I do that will allow me to solve problems as a career?” That’s when I discovered engineering. I earned my college degree in Industrial Engineering, which opened doors for me to work for Mercedes-Benz and Honda. I later joined BBVA Compass.
Employee Spotlight is a bi-monthly series highlighting a diverse selection of employees from across BBVA Compass’ footprint who are helping to push the bank forward. The series reinforces BBVA Compass for being a workplace of opportunity that enables its employees to contribute to its overall success.