Kim Boone is a program manager with Tuva. She has been with Akima for two years.
New Jersey born and bred Kim Boone thought she had her life all figured out after graduating from college. As a multilingual Soviet-era studies major, Kim dreamed of working as an interpretive translator for the United Nations. But life had something else in store for her. Kim got married, had children, and her career took another trajectory — one that would lead her down the technology path.
At Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Kim was first exposed to computers working in the college library, but her foray into information technology was cemented when she became a secretary at an association after graduating. At the time, the typewriter was still considered a key piece of office technology in some quarters. But she soon became familiar with something new — something that would revolutionize the workplace and Kim’s own career path.
“I found this thing they had there called a word processor, so instead of taking three hours to retype something, it took me maybe 30 minutes,” Kim says.
Kim had a leg up because she already knew how to type and take shorthand. She also had become acquainted with a program called WordStar, a word-processing application that dominated the market during the early- to mid-1980s. Kim taught herself how to use it and fast became the go-to person for word processing tasks.
Soon, she got promoted to what was then called a computer operator.
“I taught myself a lot of the functions and ended up teaching the whole company how to use certain things on the computer,” Kim says. “And I loved it.”
As an early technology adopter, Kim was always the only woman — and the only woman of color — on a team. But she says she never felt like that held her back.
“I guess because the IT culture is such that everybody just kind of chips in and does everything, so I didn’t really have any issues with that, with women versus men,” Kim notes.
“With technology, either you have the passion, or you don’t have the passion,” she says. “I’m always curious: How do you do this, how do you do that?”
Kim continued making a name for herself, working in IT for various help desk companies. “It just evolved from there,” she states. “I just kept doing more and more tech work and kept getting more and more training.”
Kim spent 15 years at GANNETT/USA TODAY, doing IT tech support and working on the server team. Eventually, she became the company’s lead email administrator. But she considers her current role as program manager at the Army’s Office of the Surgeon General her most significant career accomplishment. Kim manages 22 people supporting a handful of areas ranging from technical to logistics to cybersecurity.
Today, she’s in a position to help the next-generation of IT leaders. Whenever she mentors young professionals, Kim talks to them about their career paths and teaches them about computers. And with new hires, “I tell them, ‘You’re not going to work here forever, so make sure when you leave that you have more than what you came with so you can always keep moving up.’,” Kim says.
Having been a technology pioneer and woman in tech for many years, Kim is on a mission to pay it forward. Representation matters, especially in a field as male-dominated as IT, she says. Kim works to get more women into her industry, and encourages them to grab all the opportunities that come their way.
“Don’t be intimidated by being the only woman,” she says. “I refuse to be intimidated by much. I can’t think of anything I am intimidated by, actually, because I’ve always felt, if men can do it, I can do it, too.”