Ohio University

Alumna Spotlight - Kat Karney, BSC '09

Alumna Spotlight - Kat Karney, BSC '09

Hometown: Lorain, Ohio 

Year Graduated: 2009

School: J. Warren McClure School of Emerging Communication Technologies

Major: Information and Telecommunication Systems

Current job title and location: Senior vendor manager, Progressive Insurance, Cleveland, Ohio

What do you do? Through contract, risk, and performance management, I am responsible for managing the relationship between my company and several critical, strategic, and emerging IT Vendors.  

What made you come to Ohio University? Were there other places you considered? It is gorgeous!  My older brother is an also alumnus, and I adored the campus when I visited. I applied to a few colleges in northern Ohio, but my heart was set on OHIO.

How did the Scripps College of Communication equip you with the skills you needed to succeed? My role is a blend of technical expertise, applying industry data and financial risk information to make decisions, and collaborating with various groups of stakeholders to achieve a common goal. I majored in ITS and minored in business, and my area of concentration was interpersonal communication. The small class sizes and group work in all facets of my education provided a solid framework that transferred well to the corporate realm. Coursework, interview workshops, and public speaking opportunities were transformational and improved my soft skills. 

What about your experiences here was so memorable? The opportunity to learn something new every day in a beautiful and supportive setting.  

Tell us about your career path. I have been at Progressive since graduating. Initially, I provided 24/7 IT network and telecom operations support starting in 2009. I later became a team lead in Tier 3 Network and Telecom, where more complex issues were escalated. In 2017 I went to the IT control sourcing and negotiating group, procuring IT software and hardware. I started in my vendor management role in 2019.  

How has your work life and or focus changed due to the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. and resulting precautionary measures? I am now working from home full time. This means more meetings, a significant portion being video chats. I miss seeing my coworkers in person. The upside is I am able to spend more time with my Labrador retriever, Stanley. 

COVID was a real-life use case that helped me better understand the importance of a global supply chain, and how the effects of a pandemic cause ripple through the IT hardware industry. March and April were a delicate balance of attempting to find creative ways to meet customer needs, yet being accepting the inevitable. If the components don't exist to make the needed products, there's nothing to buy. If a plane or ship is delayed in China, you wait. 

What advice do you have for current students? As you build the world you want to see, your voice, experiences, and the unique way you communicate are invaluable. Keep positive. Keep advocating for others. You got this!