Creating and maintaining the technology that fuels a rapidly growing retailer is no easy feat. Once you throw in other considerations, such as finding work-life balance and nurturing team camaraderie, that challenge grows exponentially.
At Kendra Scott, however, developing and delivering a healthy company culture is as important as building optimal technology, and the company’s leadership pursues both goals as one. We spoke with four engineers to discuss how facing tech challenges becomes more manageable — and more enjoyable — when done as a collaborative, fun-loving team.
EMPLOYEES: 1,661 (463 locally)
WHAT THEY DO: Kendra Scott is a fashion brand that offers jewelry, home décor and beauty products, as well as a customizable Color Bar experience for designing jewelry.
WHERE THEY DO IT: Austin
CORE PILLARS: Family, fashion and philanthropy.
NOTABLE PERKS: Flexible schedules, wellness rooms, a children's playroom and complimentary manicures and pedicures for employees.
GIVING BACK: Along with offering each employee two paid days off for philanthropy each year, Kendra Scott donated $4.7 million to nonprofit organizations and nearly $10 million in-kind donations in 2017.
FAMILY DYNAMIC: The fashion and lifestyle brand has blossomed into a billion-dollar global business, but philanthropy and family have remained central to the company. Learn more.
Rene Martinez, IT Project Manager
Rene manages Kendra Scott’s e-commerce platforms to enhance the online customer experience, implement new products and research customer and predictive analytics.
BEYOND WORK: Rene plays competitive soccer year-round and jumps in with various social sports teams, including volleyball, softball, bocce ball and co-ed soccer.
What about your company inspires you?
I love that Kendra Scott is woman-led and so women-empowering, as it’s near to my heart: I grew up with many women in my family who are leaders and have achieved considerable success in life and in their careers. I especially want my daughter to see Kendra Scott as an example for her career and life choices.
I love that Kendra Scott is woman-led and so women-empowering, as it’s near to my heart. "
Describe your company’s approach to training engineers.
We have been fortunate enough to bring on engineers with considerable experience and certifications. If someone is interested, our leaders encourage continuing education and support going above and beyond to research and receive a training or certification. Our company prides itself on mentorship and on-the-job training, as everyone is open to training colleagues in support of the company’s needs and employee professional development goals.
How has your experience here differed from your previous work experiences?
My previous work experience has taken me through various industries, such as print manufacturing, finance, hospital systems and airline systems. Kendra Scott is unique and exciting because it operates in the lifestyle and brand industry, which requires a lot of predictive analytics, customization, customer trend analysis and seasonal initiatives. This makes for ever-changing and tailored applications to ensure our products are competitive and a cut above the rest. It’s a fast-paced and unique environment.
Kelly Cordova, IT Support Manager
Kelly leads the Kendra Scott IT support team and acts as a point of escalation for incidents.
BEYOND WORK: After buying her first home a year ago, Kelly has really taken to home renovation projects.
What is your style of managing?
Since we are so team oriented, I try to be democratic in my approach to the support team. I get buy-in from the team when we come to decisions together and everyone has a voice in the process. I try to maintain strong relationships with everyone through bi-weekly one-on-ones, but I’m always available for them outside of those meetings. I am extremely invested in each team member’s success, and I want to make sure I am helping them meet their goals, even if they aren’t IT-oriented.
I am extremely invested in each team member’s success, and I want to make sure I am helping them meet their goals, even if they aren’t IT-oriented."
How do you create a team feeling?
We’ve been very fortunate that the personalities on the team mesh well together. Like most IT folks, the way to our hearts is through our stomachs. We try to do a lot of team lunches to break up the workday. We also have lots of nicknames and dad jokes — we have a letterboard where we post cheesy one-liners like, “Is your name Wi-Fi? Because I'm feeling a connection.” It’s very easy to be consumed by work, but we’re always looking for opportunities to have fun.
How do you support the welcoming and onboarding of new employees?
Our team is always so excited when we onboard newbies. It’s like getting a new sibling – that you actually like. We do team interviews for potential new hires to make sure that the person we’re bringing in is not only a good fit technically but culturally as well. Since the whole team is very active in the selection process, it creates a lot of excitement when we finally bring someone in. We have their desk decorated for the first day, go to lunch and try to make our newest addition feel like a member of our family.
Sarah Greene, IT Support Specialist
As the front lines of technology support, Sarah ensures that Kendra Scott retail stores and the corporate campus are operating smoothly.
BEYOND WORK: When she's not helping fix any spur-of-the-moment tech issues, you can find Sarah on her yoga mat, which she says helps her find balance between her constantly changing priorities.
What initially attracted you to Kendra Scott?
I’ve always wanted to work in a female-created Austin-based company, and here I am. It’s so refreshing to see the amazing community this brand has created with a female CEO who inspires so many people.
As a team, we try to treat everyone that comes our way for help like family and make sure they feel empowered and excited to use their technology."
How does the company's overall culture impact the engineering team, and vice-versa?
IT Helpdesk involves constant in-the-moment, hands-on learning. Every day is different in my role, and we are constantly growing and developing together as a team. IT Helpdesk is one of the few teams here at Kendra Scott that has the privilege of getting to interact with every different person at the company. As a team, we try to treat everyone that comes our way for help like family and make sure they feel empowered and excited to use their technology.
What about Kendra Scott or your work inspires you?
The thought that goes into every detail here inspires me on a daily basis. The partnerships and give-back events initiated by every one of our stores, the incredible design of our workplace and the company-wide events.
How is this company's culture different than previous companies in which you've worked?
People care about you here. They want you to be happy, and they want to celebrate and be there for you throughout your life experiences. The culture at Kendra Scott is special, and I’m grateful to work here.
Austin Krohn, Threat and Vulnerability Analyst
Austin is a threat and vulnerability analyst, ensuring Kendra Scott’s variety of systems and accounts are set up correctly, properly maintained and highly secure.
BEYOND WORK: Austin has been a long-distance runner since high school, so hitting Town Lake for a run after a long day is his favorite way to de-stress.
Did this job turn out to be what you expected it to be?
Coming from a company that focused almost entirely on metrics and productivity was a little jarring. The focus on employee well-being at Kendra Scott — shown by a well-stocked cafe, offsite events, philanthropy days and the occasional summer Friday — has changed my perspective on how a company should operate.
How has the company supported your professional growth?
Conferences, certificates and supplemental coursework are some of the best sources of learning in IT outside of hands-on experience. Having a manager who actively encourages us to attend technical conferences and pursue industry-standard certifications is vital to developing a highly functional team and has been quite a blessing.
Knowing that a company cares enough about the community to positively impact it means a lot, no matter where you go."
How does the emphasis on philanthropy inspire your work?
Knowing that a company cares enough about the community to positively impact it means a lot, no matter where you go. Working for a company that encourages multiple days off per year to embrace a philanthropic endeavor of your choice is not only inspiring from a personal standpoint but humbling overall.