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Welcome to my website. I’m Karen Nicole Johnson.

I have extensive experience consulting and working in the software industry.

March 2021, I have started a new adventure. I’ve joined the team at Grainger in the position of Director, Engineering Effectiveness.

Let’s talk about this change.

Hello Career,

I’m back.

Let’s start with exciting news! I’ve accepted and started a new position this week. I’ve joined the team at Grainger in the position of Director, Engineering Effectiveness.

The company is a solid company in the MRO business, which is manufacturing, retail and operations. Grainger is a Fortune 300 company that has been in business since 1927.

My role is an interesting one, a title that is not so common for a role that is unusual. I see this new role as instrumental to the broader technology organization. My focus on will be wrapped around improvements, communities of practices and finding ways to improve the overall effectiveness of engineering.

Wait a minute you say, I thought you left tech and went off to do something entirely different? Let me tell you more.

I did. I left tech and went in an entirely different direction trying to build a business with another person. The business was Home Memoir. In fact, the website is still online. Let me summarize here by saying setting up a business in the second half of 2019 which involved going into people’s homes did not end up being a viable proposition by early 2020. We tried. Maybe it was not meant to be, maybe Rosanne will run the business in a different iteration at another time. As we prepared to close-up shop, I knew I had been missing things. Things? Like what. Let me tell you.

Thinking & Problem Solving

I’ve missed wrapping my head around difficult multidimensional problems. Problems that involve technology, people, culture, and practices. The type of problems you go to sleep thinking about and wake up with ideas on how to chip away at the problem. The type of problems that don’t resolve with a quick fix but take multiple actions and some stretch of time to resolve. I’ve missed that.

Being an Agent of Change

I like seeing the long vision and helping to accelerate the urgency and the changes needed to get to a new place. I like helping an organization change but I also believe I am someone who approaches change and how change affects other people with a sense of empathy.

Building Community

Building communities of practice, a concept well ensconced in the technology field that leaves some of my friends and families confused by this expression. Let me use the comparison to the medical field to talk about how a surgical team might include an anesthesiologist but outside of the team work, say an operation, there is value in anesthesiologists meeting separately to compare notes, improve their skills, find mentors and partners to continue learning. In the tech world, a team functions as a group but there are specific roles on each team such as developers and testers. People in those specific roles need and benefit from having a community of other people in the same roles to talk shop, learn and grow together outside of their team. I help to build those communities. I’ve done it before, and I will do it again. There is a fantastic feeling to watching a community evolve. Building communities is one of my primary missions.

Coaching

I’m so very ready to help other people achieve their goals. Can I coach? Can I mentor? Have I seen a few things over the years, and can I share that information? I think so. Funny thing about coaching is how much there is to learn on both sides of a coaching relationship. Is anyone really the teacher? Isn’t everyone the student? I’m humbled by how little I know after so much time in the field and in life.

Being the glue

Hard to put that on a website, a business card or a position title but I work well as the glue between different groups namely the business, the customer, and the technology team. I can speak all three of those languages and they don’t usually sound like one another. I love tech but not for technology sake but for the sake of the customer which in turn, feeds the business. Deliver great products, treat your customers well and your business will thrive. Technology serves. Technology is the tool not the means. I help people in tech to realize this.

Just being me

I’ve been hired by someone who knows me. This is how it happens; it is not just about networking but about being hired by someone who knows how I work, what I do, and how I go about getting things done. I shared this time and time again reality in a keynote I gave on solving problems (you can find it on YouTube), my most typical way of being hired is by someone who has worked with me before and they want what I bring. I’m happy to grow, to learn and I’m grateful for the faith that Anaf Durrani has in me.

Let’s talk about the awkward, shall we?

Yes, I posted a farewell career letter, it was public on LinkedIn and on my website.  Some of the circumstances that led to my farewell letter, frankly, hurt like hell, threw me a curveball and I walked off the field. This is a fresh start for me because as it turns out when you have been around the block before you might still need that opportunity to start afresh. Look not every step in my career has been well placed. Enough of any social online platform where anyone, myself included needs to pretend that every move we’ve made was the right thing. That was then and this is now. We get to try again.

Let’s look ahead.

I hope to learn, evolve and to serve. Let’s see what I do now.

And we are hiring at Grainger. Just saying.