What do you do when you get your dream job right out of college? For Katie Thome, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s (BCBSNE) digital marketing director, you realize it wasn’t your dream job after all.
With a fashion and marketing degree from the University of North Texas, Thome started as a buyer at Neiman Marcus. The big time! In that cutthroat world of the fashion she fell in love with the analytics.“I learned how to adjust our buying patterns to meet the needs of online demand,” Thome said.
After another fashion house stop Thome landed at Amazon. There she was encouraged to learn all facets of the business and was given the tools to do it. Then she moved to eBay to sell advertising for their version of ‘Groupon’ called Deals.
“Our team was made up of mostly women and when we would travel to tech conferences like the Consumer Electronics Show we would get asked if we were there to model,” Thome said. “It was very obvious it was a male dominated world.”
Thome met her husband at an eBay conference and came to Nebraska last year.
Now she’s digging even deeper into her analytic passion as BCBSNE’s digital marketing director.
“You’d think coming from my last two stints at Amazon and eBay that healthcare would be boring,” Thome said. “But with the advent of Obamacare, the playing field has changed and the resulting competition is leading to innovation where I can put my retail sales and analytic skills to good use.”
If Thome was an anomaly in the tech world 12-years-ago that isn’t the case anymore. Just ask the 12 year-old girl listening to Thome talk about women in tech at an Interface Web School event.
This 7th grader is coding and consulting with her peers when they run into trouble. Her go to suggestion, she tells Thome, is to always check your ‘semi-colons.’ She is 12.
More 12-year-olds like her are needed in tech, according to another audience member who grew up in North Omaha. She says she wants to show her family and friends that they too can succeed in technology.
“Women have a unique opportunity in tech,” Thome said. “We bring the ability to conceptualize and take a holistic view of business that goes beyond coding.”
Thome’s advice, to not be afraid of taking on new challenges comes from experience. Each step, she says, should be part of a plan to learn and grow.
“Right now, I have the best of both worlds; I’m working for a not-for-profit company that wants to help customers understand health insurance so they can make the best decisions,” Thome said. “And this same company is deeply involved in the community.”
It’s where Thome wants to be right now.