Krista's unapologetic choices

April 03, 2017 1 Comment

Krista M.| 30 | Software Engineer| San Francisco| from the Midwest 

Passion:  Learning new things  


Krista M.


How do you define beauty? And Confidence?

The most beautiful people I know are the ones who radiate positivity, earnestness, and inclusiveness. Positivity: They see the value of treating every day like it could be their last. Earnestness: They may not be confident about their ability to achieve something, but they will give it their best attempt and won't be ashamed of their learning. Inclusiveness: They prop up others around them, and they value the differences that make others beautiful.


What are the main challenge(s) you had to overcome to get where you are today? Would you do that again? 

When I was 20 years old, I was diagnosed with a chronic blood disorder called neutropenia. Essentially, I have a suppressed immune system - I don't have enough white blood cells to fight infections, and a common cold can turn life-threatening. That year, I was in and out of the hospital for months, and I battled a lot of emotional stress from not knowing what this illness meant long-term (Could I have kids? Could I have a career? How would I take care of myself as I got older?). It is now a little over ten years later, and even though I still don't have answers to all of my questions, I've learned to manage the illness and be okay with the uncertainty. I still spend a lot of time in hospitals and occasionally have health scares, but I'm able to do my injections at home and I've adjusted to my new energy levels.

Looking back, my diagnosis ended up being one of the best things that ever happened to me. The uncertainty caused me to deeply reflect on my existential self, and I believe that I'm much stronger emotionally now because of it. I take far more risks (in my life, in my career, in love) than I probably would have if I hadn't been forced to consider a more intentional life at such a young age.


What are the accomplishment(s) or successes you’ve achieved that you’re particularly proud of?

I've always said that Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs) has my dream career - I'm fascinated with how people spend their days, and I'd love to be in a permanent state of job shadowing.

In that regard, I've been pretty lucky with all the twists and turns my career has taken; I've done everything from managing restaurants, to doing technical theater work, to working in startups. I also had an entire career in education - I won an international teaching award in my early 20's, which opened the door to a lot of opportunities like public speaking, consulting, international travel, and serving on advisory boards for tech companies and government agencies.

What I'm most proud of is that I've been pretty good about not self-imposing barriers for tackling new challenges. There's a lot of research that shows that men will apply for jobs when they are only 60% qualified, and women will wait until they are 120% qualified.

I can't actually take any credit for this - my parents raised me with the example they set as self-driven learners. Even though they pushed me towards higher education (I ended up being the first in my family to get a college degree), they made sure I went in with the perspective that a piece of paper would not entitle me to anything: it might open extra doors, but I would still have to walk (barge?) through on my own. Their example showed me that the only qualification for doing any job was to throw myself into my own learning, just like they did.

I'm just getting into my newest venture: software engineering. I quit my job a year ago to learn to code, and I'm now nine months into a job at a startup where I'm doing full-stack web development in JavaScript and Python. It's a pretty big learning curve, but that's my happy place!


If you could look back and talk to your younger self, what advice would you give her?

My advice would be to read more, reflect more, and seek feedback more. Growth happens much faster when it is actively sought, and I'm learning that in a very real way working in an engineering organization (where this learning cycle is part of every day culture).


What are the 3 top pieces of advice you would give any Unapology beauty out there to reach whatever goal she sets for herself?

I have only one piece of advice, and I learned it in the last few years. I've set goals for myself since I was a teenager, and I only started really succeeding after I started working as a project manager. I realized that I was being very strategic and organized with my goals at work, but I had no system in place when it came to my personal life.

My piece of advice is this: manage your life as if it were the most important project in your career.

The list of goals I used to keep in my head is now a full-blown spreadsheet with metrics of success, monthly objectives, and reflections. I have a calendar reminder every Sunday to evaluate myself on my weekly progress and make plans for the next week. The top of each says the same thing: "Live intentionally. You're running out of time."

Some of this year's goals: finish my sailing license and write a book. Sub-goal: don't sink a boat, and get someone other than my mom to read the book I write.


Who are the women you look up to and why? What characteristics do/did they possess? 

I think there's a misconception about the type of personality female leaders have - women in high-ranking roles are often portrayed by the media as cold, calculating, and brash. The VP of Engineering at my current company couldn't be more opposite from that description - she's warm, positive, outgoing, and loves sharing photos of her adorable puppy. :)

Every organization I've worked for has strived for a culture of collaboration and empathy. The women and men I look up to strive to build that type of environment.


What does Unapology mean to you?

When I was a teacher, I noticed a major theme in the way my female students interacted with the world. Many of them said "sorry" without really meaning it - if they wanted to speak up in a group conversation, or if they had an opinion that was contradictory, or even if they were walking past someone in the hallway. I was so proud of my students who were able to break out of that - the girl who wasn't afraid to get into a debate, the boy who wasn't afraid to talk about his emotions, the athlete who wasn't afraid to be an introvert... basically any student who wasn't afraid to go against societal expectations.

I love the word "unapology" for a beauty company - because young women and men need to be less apologetic about who they are. You want to rock that camouflage sweatshirt and red lipstick? Do it, and don't apologize.


1 Response

Pam Moroder
Pam Moroder

April 13, 2017

So proud of you Krista. Love your adventure for life and how you support the people around you. I really hope this company succeeds, you are all right, quit apologizing and live your life!

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