Jan 31, 2021
Kristen Koehler is one of Tresata’s Technical Sales Leads, resident expert on Financial Crime, & fresh off of leading a Tresata Money implementation at one of the largest Banks in the world. But she hasn’t had the ‘straight & narrow’ career path you might expect. Shreya & Kristen discuss how she went from an intern to Data Engineer, and experiences that led her to where she is today.
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This is Tresata Talks & I’m your host, Shreya Nandi!
Our intention is to bring you perspectives – some our own, some from our group of even smarter friends & confidantes – to help inform your opinions on how data, digital & tech will reshape the world we live, breathe & play in.
& today, we have Kristen Koehler, one of Tresata’s Technical Sales Leads who hails from Tresata’s London office.
We are talking about her Career journey at Tresata, taking you through her first impressions as an intern to where she is today, walking us through who Tresata is, what we value & what opportunities we offer to grow on the team.
Now, we’re no recruitment podcast, but P.S. Did I mention we’re hiring?
You can find the transcript for this episode on Tresata.com, that’s t-r-e-s-a-t-a-.-c-o-m
And, let’s keep listening
Okay Kristen welcome to Tresata Talks! Hello, how you been?
Hey Shreya, doing well! I’m super excited to be here. I think we were talking about this before but I have always wanted to be on a podcast so this is a dream come true.
Oh that’s wonderful to hear & also same, same, I’m in the same boat as you. & so, Kristen is our Technical Sales Lead, which makes you my manager & the one person I would go to for anything regarding Financial Crime, whether it’s anti-money laundering, fraud, Know-Your-Customer (KYC) – a lot of these seemingly buzzwords that I hear in our “virtual office.”
You haven’t always been an expert in this, right? We were talking earlier about how you began as a math major at Davidson College.
And also, correct me if I’m wrong around any of this because we were talking about this earlier. Through one of your mentors you were guided towards Tresata & data science, right, & into the summer internship. Did I get that right?
That’s absolutely correct! So yeah, I think starting off as a math major & then making my way towards Tresata – of all of the interesting work that Tresata does I was actually the least interested in Tresata Money, which we’ll get into later on. But least interested in it because there are so many other cool use cases & problems that we solve.
But as I progressed in my career at Tresata, I really grew to love Financial Crime, Tresata Money & anything related to our financial services use cases.
Oh, that’s wonderful to hear & since we had such a similar path getting to Tresata my – I was really wondering what was your first impression of Tresata?
Sure, so I knew that Tresata was a data analytics company. I knew Tresata was based in Charlotte which was very appealing to me coming from the university I went to & I knew they were a high growth company. I knew they were a small company & that was something that was always very appealing to me. & it wasn’t until I started the interview process that I really started to learn a lot more about Tresata & from there I learned that we were a software company.
& that it’s really in the business of automation & automating business processes specifically that relate to data. Prior to that the only data & analytics use cases I was familiar with were in sports or marketing & so it was when I was in the interview process speaking with Abhi & Richard, two of the co-founders, that I learned a lot more about how data can be used to tackle really more meaningful problems like money laundering & personalization of health care – which is what Tresata is in the market of doing.
Right, & I mean the term “data analytics” means so much. & you’ve been at Tresata for now three & a half – over three & a half years now, so what’s your definition of what Tresata does now? I’m sure it’s changed.
It certainly has & I’ve been with Tresata for very interesting years at that. So Tresata has now been in existence for just over 10 years & I’ve been really honored to be part of that for the last three & a half, four years. So I’d say now my definition of Tresata is that we really are an intelligence software company & we sit at the intersection of three very interesting trends in the market.
These being data, AI, & the cloud. & whatI think is really cool is that we do work with software that’s applicable across many lines of business. So we call these our three key lines of business being Tresata Health, servicing companies in healthcare & insurance, Tresata Money, which as we’ve discussed is my sweet spot & last is Tresata Things. & that’s really because as we like to say when you have health & wealth, this is everything that falls in between.
Well, that was perfect – nothing less from our Technical Sales Lead! [laughter] I know, & you started off at the internship, right? So that’s where a lot of us data engineers start off in. So during the internship clearly something clicked so for you. What was it that clicked & made you realize that this role is what you wanted to do?
Sure & that’s a really interesting question. Growing up I always thought I wanted to go into healthcare. I come from a family that – you know, my dad’s a doctor, my sister’s a nurse. & having the opportunity during my internship to work on a healthcare project was really a big plus for me. I did an internship project that allowed me to use Tresata software to assess the trade-off between cost & quality in healthcare.
So really answering the question – is higher cost healthcare leading to better outcomes? & so I used every data set available online – or at least it felt like it by the end of the internship – to define these trends between cost & patient outcomes. So looking at patient surveys, mortality rates, & pretty much every hospital data set available to look at the cost of different treatments. & I actually wrote a blog about this if you are interested.
& this project was really great because not only could I see how powerful using data was but it let me really feel like I was actually doing something important in the healthcare space
So this is a bit of a personal question but I was thinking how – well, I technically have my reviews coming up, with you of course – & that makes me wonder, how were you doing six months into the job? Because clearly you took the job after they offered it to you post-internship. How did you think you were doing? What did you learn?
Yeah six months in you really have a lot of insight, & you can probably relate to this, Shreya. But you really have a lot of insight into how much more there is to learn. & that’s one of the perks of working for a smaller company is that you get your hands on a lot of opportunity very early. But you also have a lot of exposure to what everybody else in the company is working on. Needless to say, I was certainly not bored! Six months in I was on a healthcare client & I really felt like I had come a long way.
Especially at this point I had completed Tresata Academy, which is our internal training platform. & it really did set me up well for success coming from a lighter computer science background. I really did feel prepared to work on a client project but I had also done a lot of work early on with Recruitment. This was really great for me because it satisfied my extroverted personality.
So I was able to meet with anyone who was interested in learning about the opportunity to come & work for Tresata & this really felt – any time that I wasn’t doing data engineer work. So at this point in my career I felt like I was adding value, but probably very similar to you, it’s: how can I continue to grow & what’s next?
Right, what’s next? & now three & a half years later how do you think you’re doing now?
It’s a loaded question, so I like to think I’m doing well. There’s always room for growth, of course. So I’m my own biggest enemy. I always see the best in other people & I, you know working with my team, so with Shreya & the rest of the Sales Engineers, I see the best in everybody. I think everyone does an incredible job but I’m usually really really hard on myself. But that said, I can recognize that I’ve come a really long way in the last three, almost four years.
So in my time here I’ve had the opportunity to work across all three of our lines of business: working on a retail project, working on a healthcare project. But in the last few years diving deep into financial services & Financial Crime. & most recently, that’s been one of my big focuses, is working on an implementation to fight Financial Crime.
& I don’t know if anyone else can say this but I brought a project into production that helps global case investigators at a large global bank do their investigations – & I also did this in the middle of a pandemic, which I think is really important & really really remarkable. & so I do feel like I’ve earned some bragging rights there because it’s a really cool project doing really meaningful work.
Exactly, I mean going from an intern into a, now leading a global implementation in the middle of a, you know, pandemic, as you said. There must have been a distinct change in your career path & I was wondering what that might have been, signaling that Tresata was really trusting you & your expertise & your growth here?
So I think one thing we’ve failed to mention so far is that Tresata is based in Charlotte. But I’m actually one of the Data Engineers based in London. So I would say that the clear turning point in my career at Tresata was actually the first time that I came to London for a project, which was a few summers ago. & at that time I was in London for three months working with one of our large global banking clients.
& I loved the thrill of going to the new city, but this was also when I realized that I loved the financial services projects. In this time I also got very comfortable working with clients because in this project I was working on site with the client every day. So going into their office & really getting to know them & develop those relationships. This is also when I realized I loved talking to people about our software.
& so my experience implementing the software was really helpful because then I could understand how to explain these use cases & the benefits of using our software to prospective clients, & it also gave me a little teaser into the Sales role that I am now moving into.
Yes, & we’re very excited about that, personally! & to be a little bit nostalgic, bring a little bit of nostalgia back in – what would you tell 21 year-old Kristen knowing what you know now? & I’m a bit invested in this answer, as well.
So if I could have a conversation with 21 year-old Kristen there are a few messages that I would give back. I think the first is to be bold. Be completely unafraid to fail, & when you fail you really have to own it & laugh it off. There were so many times that I let my fear of failure keep me from being bold & making these big choices. But in the past few years some of the boldest decisions that I’ve made have brought me the most happiness.
I moved to a new country & stayed here throughout the entirety of a pandemic – I guess we’re still going through it, but it feels like it. & although it was a really tough year for a lot of different reasons it was a really rewarding experience for me. I think next was learn to love. I loved listening to people’s experiences & I love learning about new people.
One of the benefits of having a global client base is that it puts us in a really unique position to meet new people from different backgrounds all the time. & I love that I get to hear everyone’s perspective about what’s going on in the world. Especially, again, in the last year, in a pandemic, getting to relate to people from – I think on the last implementation I was working on, we looked & we were pretty much straddling every time zone around the world.
Which is a really cool thing to say when you’re working with these people every single day & all going through this common thing that’s going on in the world. & that also makes the relationships that you build very special. & that also goes again for our people working with our clients, but the relationships you build with your co-workers is also really incredible. The last is seek to build, & I think of this as like little lego blocks.
So every new opportunity that you receive you’re building on top of the other & when you think of any opportunity this way you really don’t shy away from doing things outside of your job description. I learned so much from doing things that were not in my job description but that was the best way for me to really define my journey here. So doing things like joining Sales calls when I was really more of a technical, delivery-focused engineer actually paved the way for me to step into a Sales position.
Again, taking the opportunity to go to London. Now I’m one of the people building our London office. & even things like planning the holiday party – I learned so much about my organizational needs & it was a logistics exercise that you don’t really get to practice when you’re focused entirely on your job description.
So actually these three lessons tie back to Tresata! So these are the core values that really define our company, as well. As I grow my career here I think it’s great that the core values that Tresata has are in line with how I also want to grow personally & that’s a really great place to start your career & continue to grow your career. It’s great when your professional & personal goals are that aligned
It really is. & that’s something that I can personally relate to as well because Seek to Build, Learn to Love, Be Bold – those are things that I personally saw as well.
& that is a great parting thought, Kristen. Thank you so much! That’s all the time we have for today but we definitely need to have you back; talk about London. talk about different implementations, et cetera. So I hope you enjoyed this!
Great, & hi mom hope you’re listening! But it’s a pleasure working with you, Shreya, it’s been a lot of fun.
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