Christina Stimson, Project Management Lead and Solution Architect, shines bright in the spotlight this month. After starting her career as a paralegal and moving to finance consulting, Christina found her passion for enterprise content management and project management. With a background as diverse as Christina’s, it’s no wonder that she serves as such an inspiration for other women in IT. In this interview, Christina shares the journey that brought her to Elantis and how she carves her own path by following her heart.
Andrea Nwobosi: What do you do here at Elantis and what is your current role?
Christina Stimson: Currently, I am the lead of the Project Management Office, basically a Project Manager, but also filling the role of Solution Architect—so a bit cross-functional.
Andrea: How long have you been with Elantis?
Christina: About a year-and-a-half, so not a long time. That said, I did work on contract with Elantis and with Dave Roe for almost a decade. So Elantis wasn’t new to me when I started here, which made it feel a little more comfortable.
Andrea: What first sparked your interest in technology and when did you realize this was a field that you wanted to get into?
Christina: I’m not sure that I had one spark. I think it was probably a series of sparks. I was educated originally as a paralegal, working in law firms. I found I had a knack for IT, so I kind of became the IT go-to person and in consulting, that carries over and translates. I went from working as a paralegal in law firms to going into a finance consulting firm, a very small one, and realized that there was a large demand in the industry for enterprise content management.
The other thing I realized is that between law firms and consulting in finance, there was a lot of enterprise content management gone wrong—a lot of investment and a lot of commitment by clients to pursue technologies. There were many, many companies trying to deliver enterprise content management. They weren’t understanding the need of clients for systems to be efficient and effective. I realized the value had to be part of our delivery, if this industry is going to succeed. So, what really sparked my direction into enterprise content management was just wanting to drive the industry toward more of a value proposition. Clients were entrusting us and working with us to understand their most valuable business asset: information and content. Yet we weren’t putting the importance on it that I felt like we should.
So, I shifted from paralegal practices into more of an IT support role and IT consulting role, and then really, truly fell in love with project management as the driving force toward that value. Oftentimes project managers who are a little bit more rigorous and little bit more structured say I’m gold plating. But I’m careful not to cross that line. I look at it as benefits realization. Rather than just delivering scope and budget timeline, we are there to really meet the needs of our clients.
Andrea: You mentioned that you knew Dave, the CEO, for some time before coming to Elantis. Was that what sparked your interest in Elantis? Or was there something else that attracted you here?
Christina: I actually came from running my own company very similar to Elantis, but in a slightly different space. It was a little bit more compliance driven, sort of legislatively mandated. Our work was a little bit more security oriented. From running my own company, I started working at KPMG because I was looking for stability and flexibility. I really fell in love with the people I was working with there. I struck up my own team in practice, focused on enterprise content management, and placed a high importance on delivering enterprise content management with expertise, quality, and integrity in mind.
As I started branching out and looking for a career shift or a company shift, what was really important to me wasn’t being with a high-profile firm. It was being with a small team that could be agile, high performing, and really loved working with each other. I knew that was the culture here at Elantis. When I started here, I knew four to five other people who worked here and a couple of contractors that worked here. The culture is what drew me in, for sure. Knowing Dave on top of that was almost a reinforcement. Then once I had my initial interview with Amy and Dave, I think I was sold. There were a number of different reasons to come here, but it was the integrity and delivery that drew me in.
Andrea: Also the opportunity to apply your varied skillsets to the role, to grow and expand, and to really make an impact on a smaller company too, right?
Christina: Definitely! I think I knew from the time that I started at KPMG, having left my smaller consulting company behind, that I did really want to come back to, you know, mid-size consulting where you can kind of be what you want to be, right? It sounds fluffy, for lack of a better word, but I’m able to work here and be flexible in building my skills and working with the team without all the stress of ownership, without the stress that comes with financial management and all of those things. I love it. I love the fact that I can drive high performance teams without the day-to-day stress of running a business or running a practice and sharing that responsibility with people who want to participate and want to contribute. I find that’s just irreplaceable. Elantis gives me that, which is really, really important.
Andrea: Absolutely, and you’re carving your own path, really making it your own. So, what do you wake up looking forward to every day?
Christina: I’m going to be brutally honest: chocolate and puppies.
Andrea: Do we have that here? (ha ha)
Christina: That’s always going to be my answer so yeah, chocolate and puppies. That said, I absolutely love everything about my job. I don’t love everything every day (I’m not going to lie!) but I do think that we wake up and we create our own success. Many people I work with know that I log in very early. I like that one hour of just extremely high performance and productivity in the morning—that excites me. As long as that hour goes well, then I’m kind of set off to have a really positive day. So yeah, chocolate, puppies, and an hour of planning.
Andrea: What are you most passionate about in your career path so far?
Christina: Honestly, learning. I have always been a lifelong learner. I think I’m going to continue down that path regardless of where my career takes me. I always joke because a lot of people feel they drive their career. I think I’ve always followed my heart and kind of, you know, pursued the things that felt right. There’s a number of things that I’ve been passionate about over the years. But the reality for me is just finding that sweet spot where a team gels and becomes high performing, effective, and just in tune to each other. I think creating that win is what really drives me. That said, I’ve realized throughout my career that I can get there a number of different ways. I think that’s been my differentiator—looking at other ways that we can arrive at that sweet spot, at that good destination.
I am also extremely passionate about women in technology. So that’s one of the things that I hope we can build out here at Elantis but also, in my life generally, I try to strive to be a good example to other women in technology. Letting them know that it’s OK to have a family, that it’s OK to have a career, and it’s OK to be just astoundingly awesome at both. I’m not always there (there are challenging days), but I think having women to look up to in technology is becoming a challenge out there. So if I can drive that, if I can drive women in IT and more women in data, then that sets my passion on fire.
Andrea: I love that you are paving the way for future women in tech. It’s such a great way to give back and to really make an impact on the industry. Is there anyone in particular who you look up to or follow, who might be of interest to others?
Christina: Definitely. In my past, I’ve had a lot of really good mentors who I’ve been able to work with. I’ve also had people who’ve taught me what not to do, so I think that’s important as well. You know, letting me know that it’s OK to set boundaries and to really follow the things that you love. I think that’s important. I also do a lot of reading. I love the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. She’s not in IT, but the book is fantastic. There’s also a couple of others: Pivot by Jenny Blake and Girls Who Code by Reshma Saujani. I bought it for my daughter years ago and found that I actually really enjoyed it, myself.
I also look to the people that I work with, like Keira McAllister here at Elantis and Rhia Wieclawek, who we’ve worked with previously. They’re just fantastic women in general, and so to use their example going forward in my career is critical for me. I want to take and learn from whoever I can. I think at this point, their outlook and their perspective on positive contribution is critical. I think we all need to see examples of that as we move out of COVID days and into a more productive work environment. So yeah, I would like to be Keira one day when I grow up.
Andrea: She would love to hear you say that! Isn’t it amazing that we are surrounded by such incredible women in this field and we can lift each other up, support each other, know that we always have each other’s backs, and be examples for those to come?
I have one more question for you. What is next for you in your career?
Christina: Great question. I always joke that I’m not grown up yet, so I think there’s probably a couple of different answers that could come into that. In all honesty, I want to find that sweet spot. I want to create that high performing team that we can just be proud of here at Elantis—that delivers everything regardless of the scope, regardless of the challenges. I think we’re very close to that. That said, I don’t know what’s next for me. I think for a long time, I’ve realized that I want grow up to be a project manager, but there’s a process in that and a path that needs to be followed. I think just following my heart is a big part of that for me.
Andrea: Thank you so much for your thoughtful and inspiring responses, Christina. It’s been so great to spend this time with you and I hope you enjoyed this time in the spotlight.
Christina: Thank you so much. Really appreciate it!
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