Krista Pappas on Why Unconscious Bias in Utah is Real and Needs to Change

Krista has been in the tech industry for over a decade, primarily focused on operations and technology transformation. She's been involved in leading several enterprise wide system implementations at companies as large as State Farm Insurance. She has a passion for identifying a company's biggest challenges and implementing the best strategies, processes, and systems to solve them.

She's originally from Mesa, Arizona and moved to Utah almost 3 years ago. Krista has a fur baby named Zoey who she loves to enjoy the outdoors with. Her hobbies include traveling around the world with people she love and enjoying good food and wine.

How long have you been working at Pluralsight and what do you enjoy most about it?

I’ve worked at Pluralsight for almost three years now. What I’ve enjoyed most is the amount of personal and professional growth I’ve experienced since I joined the company. Pluralsight is growing extremely fast along with pushing boundaries on what’s possible in the SaaS industry. My bar of possibility has significantly changed because I’ve been able to accomplish initiatives or projects in timelines that I never would have thought were possible before. It’s also forced me to be relentless about prioritizing my time. At this pace of growth you can’t afford to do things that don’t have a direct value to your top priorities.

What has been the most rewarding and most challenging aspect about being a woman in the tech industry in UT?

The most rewarding thing about being a woman in the tech industry in Utah has been the abundance of supportive woman here. In Arizona, because there were more women in tech, which sometimes created a scarcity mindset amongst women in the tech community. When I worked with women at other companies or even at networking events, the environment felt extremely competitive and sometimes cut throat. In Utah, because the numbers are significantly lower my experience has been that it creates an environment of, “This is already hard enough as it is, let’s remove any competitive BS stories we could tell ourselves and lift each other up.”

The most challenging aspect about being a woman in Utah has been the amount of unconscious bias that is present in the tech community. I’ve been at several tech events and conferences where I’ve been shocked at the number of men who’ve asked about my marriage and child bearing status. I strive to assume positive intent from those conversations, and be aware of the more family oriented culture in Utah. It can be disappointing when you have such a desire to learn and connect with others professionally and there’s certain topics that continue to be brought up to women versus men. At events, my goal is to network to learn more about others and their careers and what’s shaped them and this has become more challenging in Utah when people tend to focus on your personal life when you’re female.

What do you feel needs to improve to get more women employed in tech? How do we truly diversify the industry and how can we create more inclusion within companies?

There needs to be a better representation of minorities at the executive level. The only way you can truly create an inclusive and diverse workplace is if you have those diverse voices sitting at the table that drive the changes that would attract a more diverse and inclusive workplace. CEO’s really need to challenge themselves on how they can attract and mentor the diverse talent they need.

Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?

I love technology, so as long as I’m helping a company, or potentially several companies, solve their toughest challenges I will be happy.

You are originally from Mesa, AZ, so how long have you been living in Salt Lake? What do you love most about living here? Is there anything you miss about Mesa, AZ?

I’ve been in Salt Lake for almost three years. I’ve really enjoyed experiencing four seasons here in Utah. In Arizona, we basically have summer year round and then a very short spring and fall. The thing I miss the most about Arizona is the diversity of food and people. The people in Utah are great, but it’s challenging to find diverse groups here and along with that comes the influx of chain restaurants.

Which living person do you most despise?

I honestly don’t have a person I despise. I feel that takes a lot of energy to despise someone and ain't nobody got time for that!

What is the quality you most like in a man?

I don’t like to generalize based on gender, but a quality I’ve observed from more men is their innate sense of confidence. There have been times in my career where a male co-worker will be leading a meeting and exude confidence with his presentation. Afterward, when I’d ask several questions about the topic he presented he wouldn't have all the answers, but need to come back to me. It has taught me that I don’t always have to be so critical of myself when I’m presenting a topic that I’m not a subject matter expert on. You can always be confident in your ability and sign up to handle things you don’t always feel like you know 100%.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Same response above, I’m not a fan of generalizing based on gender, but a more prevalent quality I’ve observed in women is the desire to collaborate. I’ve seen amazing women in my career who leverage a group to get the best outcome instead of coming up with the solution on their own. Or potentially letting their ego get in the way of feeling the need to be the smartest person in the room. There’s so much power in being able to effectively collaborate and it also helps create an inclusive and diverse workplace.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

The greatest love of my life is my love for learning. I will always have a burning desire to grow personally and professionally so I can be the best version of myself.

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