Podcast: Automation is 10 years overdue according to Citi’s Kelly Switt

seth adler
Posted: 09/28/2017

If businesses have been able to automate for over a decade, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be doing it now—right?

Kelly Switt has always been a disruptor. What began as a passion for environmental activism soon morphed into a whirlwind career in the financial services sector—innovating and disrupting business-as-usual at some of the world’s leading organizations.

Listen now: 

 

Today, as senior VP and reengineering director at Citi, Switt said her “go big or go home” mindset is what has allowed her to craft a team and culture that is not afraid to fail.

“When you think about the culture of so many organizations… we are afraid of failure,” Switt told AI Network podcast host Seth Adler.

“In any group or company that wants to put an automation plan in place, you need to have a leader who is fearless and willing to put themselves out there.”

A self-confessed disruptor-cum-culture-builder, Switt admits her often unconventional methods have taught her a lot about overcoming challenges on the road to automation. “I think the best fun I had out of it was literally ripping the fax machines out of the offices because it forced people to change,” she said.

“If we could do this over 10 years ago, I see no reason why we shouldn’t be doing it now.”

From HSBC to Bank of America to Citi, Kelly shares her evolving experiences of automation across key areas of the financial services sector; experiences that have not always been smooth sailing.

“It’s really hard at times when you see the potential an organization has—when they’re not willing to accept that potential—for you to stay true to yourself and the work that you want to do, but meet the needs the they’re asking you to meet.”

Want more? Try this: Cindy Gallagher on why automation is business evolution

Listen along as Switt shares insights on setting an automation guardrail for your team, how to avoid the “set and forget” mentality and why you should never be afraid to fail.

Want more? Become a member of the AI & Intelligent Automation Network and we'll keep you up to date with all the latest podcast episodes, delivered fresh to your inbox each week. Sign up today.

[transcript]

Speaker Key:

SA           Seth Adler

KS           Kelly Switt

SA           From Citi, Kelly Switt. First some supporters to thank and thank you for listening.

                This episode is supported by AiiA Network, the AI and Intelligent Automation Network is an online community focused on building the intelligent enterprise. The content covers a broad range of issues, including digital disruption and transformation, task and robotic process automation, augmented intelligence, machine learning and cognitive computing. Our goal is to help businesses apply these technologies and build the intelligent enterprise of the future. Go to AiiA dot net to join.

                This episode is also supported by RPA and AI Week 2017. The world decision makers and doers in process excellence and shared services meet in London this November to collaborate on the direction of task automation and augmented intelligence, share best practice and discover strategies, tactics and initiatives which industry leaders are already implementing for business success. 2017 is our second year of bringing this growing and exciting industry together. Go to RPA and AI Summit dot com for more.

                Recorded at Intelligent Automation in Chicago, Kelly Switt joins us as a native Chicagoan, who was always a bit of an activist. She’s been told that her nickname is mako shark, due to the fact that she’s always moving.

                Kelly was running the Six Sigma Lean Group for Citi, of course, consistently looking at how to improve operations. She’d done some automation work at both Bank of America and HSBC and she spent the past four years selling automation as a concept internally. The team began by focusing on data quality and analytics in order to drive more process improvement, that gave the team runway for management to have buy-in. And finally, last year, with no stones left unturned, Kelly and the team dove in on true intelligent automation.

                Welcome to the AI and Intelligent Automation Network on B2B IQ, I’m your host. Seth Adler, download episodes on AiiA dot net or through our app in iTunes within the iTunes podcast app in Google Play or wherever you currently get your podcasts.

                Kelly Switt, you were on the panel.

KS           Yeah.

SA           Here at Intelligent Automation Chicago 2017, and it’s because you have something to say in that area, but the Chicago part is you're born and raised here.

KS           Right, absolutely, yeah, born and raised, lived here my whole life, I live in…

SA           You're suburban though.

KS           Yeah, I’m a suburbanite, so I live in the west suburbs now. But, yes…

SA           Does this make you a Cubs or a White Sox fan, I guess I should ask you.

KS           You're either born with blue in your veins or black in your veins, and I have blue in my veins.

SA           You do.

KS           I am a Cubs fan.

SA           You are.

KS           Yes.

SA           You don’t remember Leon Durham playing first base.

KS           No, I probably do not remember that. My grandmother probably does, though.

SA           Well, no, you see people younger than your grandmother remember. Ryne Sandberg, you know who…

KS           Oh yeah.

SA           You know who that is.

KS           Yeah. Everyone know who Ryne Sandberg is.

SA           Ryno, I think, is affectionately what they call him, right.

KS           Yes. Mark Grace and Sammy Sosa and all the rest of them.

SA           There you go.

KS           Yeah.

SA           There you go. Baseball has been very good to Sammy Sosa is what he has told us in the past.

KS           Yeah. I would say time has not been very good to Sammy Sosa if you see some recent pictures.

SA           Yeah, he’s got an interesting look going on, which is a whole thing… Do you remember Michael though, playing for the Bulls?

KS           Oh, of course, yeah.

SA           Yeah, okay, so that’s where we, kind of, come into things, right.

KS           Yeah.

SA           And so if young Kelly is watching Michael play basketball, what else is she doing, what were your interests as a youngster?

KS           So, when I was… I mean, I think I’ve always, kind of, been more than a little bit of an activist, really humourist [?], but, yes, was always really involved in things around, you know, the environment and what not and I did a lot of singing and dancing and cheerleading, you know, the typical things that you tend to think girls do, so…

SA           All right. So, the cheerleading, that’s fine, wonderful, fantastic. The singing and dancing, was there an acting thing that was there or no?

KS           Yeah, I mean… Yeah, I mean, I think everyone tries that in high school, right, like there's musicals…

SA           Not everybody. I did, but not everybody.

KS           Yeah, well, I did, I think everyone… Like, at least where I went to school everyone wanted to be in the musical theatre, so, yeah, I did a little bit of that as well.

SA           Got it.

KS           Yeah.

SA           Was there a favourite part, did you rise to have a lot of lines or were you more singing and dancing in the, kind of, background type deal?

KS           I was always in the chorus.

SA           Got you. Let’s just…

KS           I was never a lead.

SA           Always a bridesmaid.

KS           Yes, exactly. But that’s okay, it’s because I knew that was more of a hobby than a passion, so…

SA           Okay. But you said activist, what causes called you?

KS           So, I would say social justice is always a big one for me, so even now I’m very involved, out in the west suburbs where I live, Aurora area, with, you know, just the level of poverty and helping people find ways to move out of poverty and doing that through the schools. Everyone knows the more you're educated, the more you understand, the more likely you are to, kind of, succeed in life.

                So, I think that’s always, kind of, been something that I’ve had. Even as a kid was always doing work with Habitat for Humanity or, you know, the environmental groups and what not and that’s just always, kind of, carried with me even now.

SA           You're a doer.

KS           Yeah.

SA           You're a communicator.

KS           Yeah.

SA           And you're a busybody.

KS           I am. Actually, my team, I was told on Monday, that their nickname for me is the mako shark because I’m always moving. And I don’t know if you know this, but sharks if they stop moving they actually sink.

SA           Yeah, they’ll die I think is what I’ve heard.

KS           Right, so that’s, you know, they're like that’s you, Kelly, like, you can’t have any down time.

SA           So, this is a perfect person to go ahead and throw into intelligent automation.

KS           Right, absolutely, yeah.

SA           Right. Just quickly before we get there though, you said Aurora, which is of course where Wayne from Wayne’s World is from.

KS           Oh yeah, Wayne’s World, 25th anniversary this year. Yeah, they have, like, an air guitar, like, competition and everything this summer, so yeah…

SA           And you were the perfect age for that to happen to the Zeitgeist, right.

KS           Yeah.

SA           Were you proud that he was a hometown son type of thing or…?

KS           Yes, absolutely, yeah. I mean, well, I think anyone… when you grow up, for me like growing up outside of Chicago, I think any time you see a movie or there's any type of excitement around something that you know, then you feel a lot of pride and excitement yourself, so…

SA           Absolutely. All right, so good, that’s a party time excellent…

KS           Yes.

SA           I think is officially what that is.

KS           Yes, exactly.

SA           So, here's the mako shark, right, and she works at Citi and she says to someone, or someone says to her, okay, there's this automation thing, we got to be doing it.

KS           Yeah.

SA           How did it all happen?

KS           I said it to them.

SA           Oh, you did.

KS           Yes.

SA           All right. What was your position at the time?

KS           So, I ran the Six Sigma Lean Group.

SA           Oh, so you're one of them.

KS           Yes, I’m one of them, yeah.

SA           All right. Do you have a belt?

KS           Yeah.

SA           You have a black belt, are you…?

KS           No.

SA           You don’t.

KS           No, I don’t have a black belt, it’s just a green.

SA           You're just a green belt, but again you can communicate, you're a mako shark, so it’s fine.

KS           Yes.

SA           Kelly can handle this.

KS           Yeah. Well, I realised, like after you go through the first certification, like, so, let me get this straight, you're just going to teach me to use more spreadsheets, I don’t know whether it’s really worth my time or money to get another certification when at the end of the day they care more about who I am than, you know, how well I can fill out a spreadsheet, so…

SA           I love it.

KS           So, I never went and did the black belt.

SA           I don’t need that brand association is essentially what we’re saying.

KS           Yeah. Pretty much.

SA           All right. So, in continuous improvement, in Lean, in Six Sigma, what were you doing for the organisation?

KS           So, with the organisation we’re always looking at, like, operations, how to move our operations to, like, kind of, the next gen for our business. And actually, when I was hired at Citi five years ago, I thought I was hired to do some automation work, because that’s what I had done at Bank of America, that’s what I had done at HSBC. And I recognised that when I joined Citi our culture just wasn’t quite ready. So, I’ve basically spent four years just, kind of, chipping away at it and getting people to be more comfortable with there is a way for systems to, kind of, do the things that we’ve, kind of, always manually done.

                And I think that just the buzz in the industry and in the media about just automation in general in this… you know, financial services being a vertical that could benefit from it, kind of, drove the executives to finally say, okay, we’re ready, we want to listen, we want to understand how would we do this.

SA           Okay. Let’s go back to… HSBC, was before Bank of America?

KS           Yeah.

SA           Okay. When you say automation, roughly what year was it and what was the actual thing you were doing in automation?

KS           Yeah. So, I left HSBC in 2006, so this was 2001…

SA           Over a decade ago.

KS           Yeah, a long time ago; it feels like a long time now.

SA           And it is.

KS           Yeah. And what we were doing then was looking at end to end, kind of, the mortgage business and taking the whole loan process from the start of a customer filling out an application through fulfilment of the loan in and taking that paperless. And so, when you think about taking a business paperless, you know, back then we were still using fax machines and stuff like that…

SA           You dinosaur, Kelly.

KS           I know, right. It’s crazy because we’re still using fax machines in 2017.

SA           I feel like don’t tell us that now, but whatever…

KS           I know, right. Yeah, but, I mean, the journey really, you know, you had 1,400 branches across the country and they were doing everything on paper, faxing it in, someone has to capture the paper, right, and then making a manual decision for underwriting. And we leveraged a number of technologies back then in order to… and automate the process. And I think the most fun I had out of it was, like, literally ripping the fax machines out of the offices, because it forced people to change.

SA           Yes.

KS           But I think that’s the reason why I’ve, kind of, known that this was just a matter of time, because if we could do this, you know, over ten years ago, there's absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t all be doing it now.

SA           Totally understood. As far as the technology is concerned, not necessarily sharing the vendors, but the category of vendor, what were you putting in to make this thing go as far as the technology?

KS           We were using business process automation software then.

SA           Fine.

KS           And, I mean, if you think about just the way you automate in general is around data, and so we brought in a number of, like, imaging systems which… imaging systems are really the way you take paper and describe it into metadata.

                So, we were leveraging technologies like that back then, so it was, kind of, really the start of a lot of what people are doing today.

SA           Got it. And ripping the fax machines out of the offices, have you ever seen the movie Office Space?

KS           Oh yeah.

SA           Okay, so similar to that.

KS           I feel like a Bob, like, you know, what do you think you do in an average day, yeah.

SA           What is it would you say that you do here?

KS           Exactly. I’m a people person. So…

SA           Well, they also beat up a fax machine as I can…

KS           Exactly.

SA           Right, yeah.

KS           Oh yeah, I’m sure that’s why you were trying to get out of the, like, taking the fax machine in the field and beating it.

SA           Yes. But I think the Bob’s is a better point.

KS           Yeah.

SA           Right. So now let’s move to Bank of America, we did that at HSBC, what automation did we do? And by the way, we’re inside and outside, so we hear the fabled Chicago Fire Department behind us doing their job.

KS           Yes, exactly.

SA           Yeah.

KS           So, when I went to Bank of America we spent a lot of time, or I spent a lot of time working on mergers and acquisitions; Bank of America made it their business to buy other banks, and so, I was in the group that was always working on the merging of those two banks. And so, the work that most aligns to the intelligent automation was the build out of a lot of… we did a lot of decision engines there in order to drive referral traffic. You know, so you're a customer of the retail bank, but you have a business, so we want to refer you over to the commercial bank, so that way we could try to, as a bank, make more money.

SA           Sure.

KS           So, doing work with complex event processing engines or decision engines, then around doing some of that type of work. We did dabble in some of the workflows as well and had some, you know, some early stage big data solutions that were brought in in order to help with some of the challenges with the mortgage crisis that took place, you know, with our economy.

SA           Sure, heard about it.

KS           Yeah. So, to me like the evolution of moving from HSBC into Bank of America was just, kind of like, tiering up the next level of the technology from what I did there to what I did at Bank of America.

SA           So, then you move on to Citi.

KS           Yeah.

SA           As soon as you get there you realise, oh, my mindset is ahead of where the corporate mindset is.

KS           Correct, yeah.

SA           So, you realise, okay fine, all this is a culture play anyway where we… and then we add the technology.

KS           Yeah.

SA           So, I’m going to go ahead and start on the culture right now.

KS           Right.

SA           So, when you did that what were the things, what were the, kind of, you know, almost principles that you engaged in with the workforce, with upper management to, kind of, get everybody ready for when you could, kind of, hit them with it type of thing.

KS           Yeah. I’m not going to say I was completely successful.

SA           Okay.

KS           There was definitely, you know, a lot of learnings I would say prior to us, like, being able to start this journey. You know, when you… it’s really hard at times when you see the potential that an organisation has, but they're not willing to accept that potential, for you to, kind of, you know, stay true to yourself in the work that you want to do, but meet the needs that they're asking you to meet.

SA           Sure.

KS           So, I would say that my team started to focus more on data quality and analytics in order to drive more process improvements, if you will, so less systemic solutions, more, you know, organisational change management.

                And that gave us enough runway for them to have buy-in, because we delivered value for them, for them to just, like, slowly chip away at, like, okay, let’s test the waters again and let’s try this. And so, every year I’d always do a big pitch with, like, what we should be doing and, you know, every year it was, kind of like, put on the backburner.

                And I think we finally got to, kind of like, the breakpoint last year where it was, all right, we’ve done everything else, there's, like, there's no stone left unturned, if we’re going to do anything else to transform our business this is probably the next step we need to take.

SA           How much was that actually a blessing that they weren’t ready and so you had to go ahead and clean up the data before you could start with this whole thing.

KS           Well, I think there was a number of blessings, it was not just, like, the clean up of the data or having a better understanding of the environment, but it was also having the time to, kind of, build my team and to feel like I hired people that worked for me that could actually do this. If they had really said yes when I walked in the door, it would’ve been me and one other person and we would’ve failed.

SA           Okay. Now, why do you say that you would have failed? I’m looking at the mako shark, I do not believe that that’s actually the case. What you're saying is maybe you would’ve failed at the scale that you're at now simply because you didn’t have the resources.

KS           Yeah, we would’ve failed at the scale that we have now, but at the same time I think that, you know, when you think about the culture of an organisation, Citi’s culture, we are afraid of failure, right, so… I shouldn’t say all of us, right.

SA           No.

KS           But there are communities that are and when you're new and you're an outsider, right, you don’t have quite the latitude to have the level of failures as someone that’s been around.

SA           Who’s this new one with all the new ideas over here?

KS           Exactly, that was pretty much it, like she thinks she knows how to run our business, we’ll show her, so…

SA           Right, yeah, which is, by the way, any company of any size anywhere on earth.

KS           Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I do it too, right. There's external people, there are external teams inside of Citi that will come to me, like, we’re going to go and look at this, because we know how to fix your business. I’m, like, all right, you do that, you let me know how that works out for.

SA           Good luck, bro.

KS           Yeah. So, I get it and I think at the time I didn’t really appreciate it, because, you know, it’s, well, you hired me because I have these skills, so you assume, like, you, kind of, have this, like, you know, I don’t know, people have bought into you because, well, we hired you and you're so smart, right, like, from day one you just believe everything I say. And I think that that was probably the real recognition I had here at Citi was, you know, everyone’s different and people need time and you can’t expect everyone to be at the same place on the journey as you and you need to stop and give them the time that they need to get there.

SA           Yeah. And so, you did.

KS           Yeah.

SA           Which brought you to the starting line when… then you were all at the same place at the same time. They say go, then what you do?

KS           Yeah, well, I still don’t think we have everyone there.

SA           I got you.

KS           But we have enough people there that they say go. And that was one of those where it was, oh wow, they finally said go.

SA           Okay.

KS           Okay, be careful what you ask for.

SA           Right, sure.

KS           So, you know, I think what I would say is that you have… you're going to have to plan and we spent six months planning before we even started anything.

SA           Okay, and that’s after they said go?

KS           Yes.

SA           So you had spent now years planning and then another six months planning.

KS           Correct.

SA           What was this new planning that we were planning?

KS           This was truly like they say, yes, like, let’s go ahead and try this. It was all the financial validation to, like, true up our assumptions, setting up the team, working on the contracts with all the vendors, determining, like, how are we going to really go and execute this, right.

                And I would say even now, after we’ve had some time behind us, there's still things we probably could have planned then that we didn’t know, but now that we know, we’re, like, ah, those are things we could’ve always planned more, right. But the challenge is communicating with executives that are always, kind of like, in hindsight, right; they have the gift of hindsight.

SA           Sure, which is 20, 20.

KS           And, well, why didn’t you do, why didn’t you plan for that. It’s, like, you're right, now that I know what I know I would have planned for that, but I didn’t know at that…

SA           Good point. There you go. These are good points, boss, I’m with you.

KS           Yeah. Exactly. Thank you for the encouragement.

SA           Indeed. So, you planned for six months before the proof of concept…

KS           Yeah.

SA           And what was the proof of concept, what did you choose, how did it go, all of that?

KS           Yeah. So, we don’t call things proof of concept.

SA           Interesting.

KS           Yeah.

SA           Okay, what do you call them?

KS           Proof of concept tends to mean it’s a test, we could decide we’re not going to use it, what we’re done.

SA           Right, yes.

KS           And probably the…

SA           Many people do use that, right, yeah.

KS           I know.

SA           Fair enough. What do we say?

KS           We’re just doing it.

SA           Okay. The proof of concept is we started, right, yeah.

KS           Yeah, we start and we’re doing it.

SA           Yeah, there we go. So, what kind of processes did you pick for those initial, kind of…

KS           Yeah. So, I think… I have a very different philosophy than maybe some. So, for me and the way that I think that our business needed to move forward is financial services is a customer facing business; we only exist to have customers. And so, we need to focus on where we have the most amount of value for our customers and thin out all of our pain points that we have in those specific journeys.

                So, like, I had chaired in the session, right. If you have a credit card the one thing that you're guaranteed if you're using it is you're always going to have a payment, right, every month you're going to have to make a payment.

SA           Absolutely.

KS           And so, you know, Citibank with the credit cards has millions of payments every single month, which usually results in millions of phone calls, disconnects, questions because something didn’t go right. So, we focused on our payments process first to really look at that is a guarantee of any customer who is active with us is going to have to pay and how do we make sure that our process is as lean as possible and is giving customers the information they need, when they need it in order to be informed, and feel like they can manage their finances on their own and not need us.

SA           To do things at an enterprise level.

KS           Yeah.

SA           You have to have that scale and also cojones. And so, how did you… you didn’t do a proof of concept, because that’s not the way we think, how did you know that you could go ahead and just do this if that is gargantuan?

KS           I think that maybe it’s a little bit of me then, right.

SA           Yeah.

KS           I think this is probably… It’s not to say that, you know, that I’m not flawless, right, I have flaws, I make mistakes, but in any group or company that wants to put an automation practice in place, you need to have a leader who is fearless and is willing to put themselves out there. If you have someone who is not willing to take those risks, you may not be as successful as you would like to be.

SA           Okay.

KS           And so, I’m willing to put myself out there and I believe in the team I have, and I spend a lot of time supporting them and giving them whatever they need to make them successful. And obviously this is not a one woman show, I’ve got a really large organisation behind me, but it’s really important that you put someone in place that understands the vision, how you're going to get there and then can empower the team to deliver it.

SA           If we’re going to go big or go home, which is what you did.

KS           Yeah.

SA           What advice would you give to your colleagues if there are three key principles of my finger is up and it’s about to press go on this big, huge thing that we’re really doing here, what would be that advice, what three key principles would they be, what would you tell people?

KS           What I would say is you need to define your design principles. It’s real easy to say you want to do any of this automation, but it’s another thing to understand that… your design principles, from both a business, as well as a technical perspective. Having those design principles sets the guardrails for the entire team and knowing when they're, kind of, falling in line, if you will, or they're outside.

                So, setting design principles is really critical, finding the right partners. If this is a new journey for you, you haven’t done it before, don’t pretend, like, you can do this on your own, right. There is no level of reskilling for your to be able to do this on your own.

SA           Right. Who did you choose if we want to go there?

KS           I’m not going to tell you.

SA           No, that’s fine, yeah. I’ll ask, you don’t have to answer if that’s how this goes.

KS           Right, yeah.

SA           Sure, so if I choose the partner that works for you that… okay.

KS           Correct. And choosing a partner is more about your trust in them, because what is the success for any team and any type of endeavour [?] on like this is having, you know, candour with the people that work for you, and that includes, you know, the partners you may engage with and having trust in them. If you don’t trust the people you're working with, then you're…

SA           What are we doing here.

KS           Exactly.

SA           Right.

KS           Exactly. So, design principles, pick a great vendor that can help you if you can afford to have one and then the next piece would be do not underestimate the level of business analysis and thought process you need to put into the work before you go.

SA           Got it. There's also all this other work that we’re going to be needing to do when we engage in this.

KS           Yeah.

SA           And it’s going to be painstaking.

KS           Yes. I mean, when we started off I told the team the first 12 weeks are going to suck, okay, so if we’re all prepared for it to suck, then when we’re done with it we won’t say, god, that really sucked, why didn’t anyone tell me.

SA           Right.

KS           And what's amazing is that when you prepare them for the suck factor, right…

SA           Sure, that’s an industry term by the way.

KS           It’s an industry term, it is. When we were done with the first, like, 12 weeks of the work, they're all, like, actually, it wasn’t that bad, it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be.

SA           Right, because you prepared them for the worst essentially.

KS           Exactly.

SA           Right.

KS           Exactly.

SA           That’s fantastic.

KS           And it’s also like when you prepare them for the worst, it’s giving them the luxury to know that upfront you're expecting some failures and so no one’s afraid to fail.

SA           Listen, I know that this is going to be a mess, let’s just do this.

KS           Yeah, let’s just do it and when it’s a mess and the executives don’t understand how we spend all this money and they got nothing for it…

SA           Keep going.

KS           I will take the heat for it and you guys keep going, learn from what we just did.

SA           There we go. I love it, I love that. All right. So, what else have we added, but really more appropriately I think for you is, where is your mind with cognitive, with machine learning, with that next step into AI?

KS           Yeah, so, I talk about this quite frequently.

SA           Oh good.

KS           So, that’s the shiny toy that everyone likes, especially sales people and marketers like to wave in front of the executives’ faces these days.

SA           Yeah, right.

KS           And so, that is on our journey and on our path, it’s probably something that we’re really going to start looking at in 2018.

SA           Fine.

KS           But what I would say is you want to take a five-year-old out of kindergarten and throw them into college, so if you don’t have good data, you don’t understand what your business does, you're going to be wasting a lot of time and a lot of money trying to go straight into machine learning and cognitive, you know, cognitive AI or, you know, cognitive thoughts, whatever the new soup du jour is that people want to sell. What it comes down to is really understanding what the core commodities of your business are, how they operate, the data that supports them, making sure that you have at least some cleanse data around that and even if you start with some basic rules processing, it’s on the continuum, right. Starting with rules processing, starting to get smarter, having better data, running your analytics, will only prepare you to be able to move into that journey.

                So, that’s part of what we’re doing is, you know, we’ve got places where we know are good candidates for natural English processing or machine learning that we’re starting with rules, because we’re don’t right now. And I can’t possibly teach a system to be smarter than me if I’m done, right.

SA           Right, yeah.

KS           And I don’t know why we think it’s, like… at times it feels like that infomercial on the set it and forget it, right, where we just feel like we’re just going to plug this machine into the outlet and suddenly it learns everything about what we do and makes decisions for me. That’s not the case, you have to teach it and you can only teach someone something that you know.

SA           There you go. I am officially in the Kelly Switt fan club. I am unabashedly a fan. I don’t know if I’m your number one fan, there's probably many others in the group.

KS           There are. We call it… it’s actually a family at Citi, we call it the family.

SA           The family, okay.

KS           Yeah. And it, kind of… it makes me laugh, because I’m from Chicago and so everyone thinks about the gangsters, right.

SA           Sure, Al Capone, exactly.

KS           Exactly.

SA           Right, yeah.

KS           But we do. And part of that culture, right, of calling it a family is because families are honest and open and are vulnerable with each other, but it also means that, you know, they're telling the truth to each other.

SA           Yes, they are.

KS           So, yeah. But you're more than welcome to join the family.

SA           I very much appreciate that. I really… I take that seriously. So I have three final questions for you.

KS           Okay.

SA           I’ll tell you what they are and then I’ll ask you them in order.

KS           All right.

SA           Along the way we didn’t talk a ton about your career, but we hit on the points that we needed to talk about. But along the way of the whole thing, what's most surprised you at work, what's most surprised you in life and then on the soundtrack of your life, one track, one song that’s got to be on there. But first things first.

KS           Yeah.

SA           Along the way, what's most surprised you with work?

KS           So, at work, what I would say is that do not underestimate people.

SA           Okay.

KS           My degree was in journalism, yet I’m doing technology work. So, would I have ever thought that this is where I’d end up? Absolutely not. I remember sitting in college with friends that had computer science degrees going, urgh, you're going in your coding, that’s so boring. But now here I am; it’s, like, super fun and exciting and I have a ton of passion for what my team is doing. So, I would say that’s probably the biggest shocker to me is that the journey that I’ve been on.

                I was always that person that always wanted to change everything and I guess I should’ve assumed that it would naturally lead me into some type of technical… more technical job, but…

SA           Sure. Well, that’s hindsight, right.

KS           Yeah, hindsight, exactly.

SA           20, 20, there you go.

KS           I think my boss probably could’ve told me that.

SA           Yes, of course. And everyone’s boss could’ve told them anything and everything.

KS           Absolutely.

SA           There you go. This is just how life goes, Kelly.

KS           Exactly.

SA           What's most surprised you in life?

KS           Most surprised me in life?

SA           Yeah.

KS           I would say what surprises me most in life is watching my kids and, like, seeing how quickly they pick up on things and… They have a lot of…

SA           How old are they, what are we talking about?

KS           I have a three, five and seven year olds.

SA           Oh, so you’ve got three, you're outnumbered no matter what.

KS           Yeah.

SA           And these are like starting to be humans.

KS           Oh yeah, they're definitely humans, yeah.

SA           Right.

KS           Yeah, they're definitely humans with really big personalities; I don’t know where they get it.

SA           No, me neither, can’t understand it.

KS           Yeah. So, I think that they probably are the most surprising, because, like, you know, I think that everyone has that conception of what life will be like when they have kids. And then you have them and it’s just… it’s so much fun watching them turn into, like, these little people and seeing what they're interested in and trying to expose them to new things and… So, I would say that’s probably been the biggest surprise in life is just how much I feel like I learn about who I am and how people view me by, like, talking with my kids and watching them and seeing how they're growing up.

SA           Huh. So, you're still learning every day, is that fair to say, right.

KS           Every day.

SA           About yourself.

KS           About myself, about my kids, how I, like… You know, when you watch the way my… like, when my kids interact with me and, like, how I make them feel, you know, I can’t help but feel like this is how I want people that I work with to feel about me, right.

SA           Look at that.

KS           So…

SA           Lee culture calls that the work life weave.

KS           Yes.

SA           You know, do both, be present at both.

KS           Exactly.

SA           You know, bring examples from each to the other.

KS           Yeah. Well, I would say that’s probably the… one of my biggest struggles is that when you find a role that you're so passionate about, it’s really hard at times to balance, not because you want work to take over your life, but when you love what you're doing so much, it’s hard to separate when it’s your personal life versus your professional life.

SA           Yeah. So, that’s… we got to keep trying, right.

KS           Yes, exactly.

SA           There you go.

KS           And the soundtrack…

SA           Oh yeah.

KS           My soundtrack is Queen, it’s actually my karaoke song.

SA           Is it Bohemian Rhapsody, because…?

KS           No, it’s Don’t Stop Me Now.

SA           Is that… Don’t Stop Me Now.

KS           Yeah.

SA           Oh, I know that and that actually makes a whole lot of sense, of course, that’s mako shark.

KS           Yes.

SA           This whole thing is… we just put a bow on this whole thing.

KS           That’s what I do.

SA           Kelly Switt, what a pleasure.

KS           Yeah. It was great meeting with you, thank you for interviewing me.

SA           And there you have Kelly Switt. When you prepare them for the worst, it’s giving them the luxury to know that upfront you're expecting some failures, so no one is afraid to fail. The mako shark herself, Kelly Switt, very much appreciate her time, appreciate yours.

 

seth adler
Posted: 09/28/2017

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