Senior Deployment Technician
TKC Global Solutions
Karen Shadwick is a senior deployment technician and product support subject matter expert with TKC Global. She has been with the Akima family of companies for seven years.
Karen Shadwick was on a full ride to Colorado College in Colorado Springs studying chemistry in the 1990s, when she took up working for the school’s tech support team in her spare time.
Karen knew computers. Growing up, her family had one of the first IBM machines with a hard drive, which she used to tinker around with. The computer programs back then were fairly basic; most were limited to teaching users how to type or draw. So, when the Colorado College decided to build one of those newfangled websites—this was the early days of the internet—Karen and a friend got right to work. When she graduated a few years later, the chemistry grad realized she didn’t actually want to work in a lab.
“‘I enjoy working with computers, so let’s see how that goes,’” she recalls telling herself. And so she did. Karen found work doing tech and server support for an accounting firm in St. Louis, Missouri—and she stayed on that path. Seven years ago, she joined Akima, where she has been working on various government contracts.
Being in a male-dominated industry, Karen says she’s often felt underestimated. Frequently, she will ends up as the only woman working on projects. It doesn’t bother her as she focuses on working hard, “and trying the best I can to make this company look good for our clients,” she says. And that dedication has paid off. Karen has received accolades for her work, including awards on a major IT migration project and another dealing with sustainment for the Air Force.
Karen credits her ability to learn quickly to her success. The former high school valedictorian always took advanced classes, she says, and she liked learning new things and solving problems. Today, she says she draws inspiration from her Akima colleagues. In particular, she credits Juvy McCarthy, the group president of Akima’s Technology Solutions and Products Group, with creating a culture where women are encouraged, inspired and supported. It also helps that Karen’s husband works in the same field, “and we can relate to each other, and understand what the other one is talking about,” she says.
As for other women looking to get into the IT world, she has one piece of advice: Own your confidence. “Find something you love doing, study, become good at it and just be confident that you know what you’re talking about and eventually, people will trust you because of your knowledge,” she says.