Kelly Ragle likes to think she’s been a woman in tech since the age of eight years old. Her first introduction to a computer was in second grade, when she discovered one in the basement of her friends’ house. She became fascinated by the computer, and luckily her friend offered to help her learn how to use it (with her dad’s permission of course). Kelly learned quickly how to navigate the screen, use the mouse, and of course, play computer games.
Since the first day she saw that computer, Kelly knew she’d always be connected to technology in some way.
Fast forward to October 2012, and Kelly had just moved to Indianapolis from Chicago. Though technology had been in the background of her career in other cities like Chicago and Atlanta, her role in Indy was in the IT department of a logistics company. This meant a return to her roots, since she had studied Business and Information Systems at IU. And one day, a lightbulb went off that she needed to find other women in tech.
“When that realization hit me, I turned to Google right that minute,” Ragle described. The search result she landed on was Women & Hi Tech. “I joined as an individual member that night. It was just me saying, I know that my tribe includes women in tech fields, and I need to find them.”
Ragle began volunteering with Women & Hi Tech as soon as she could, staffing their holiday toy drive gift table and helping with networking events. “It was a way to get in front of people more easily,” she explained. Ragle’s eagerness and dedication to volunteering for Women & Hi Tech led to her being named the 2017 Volunteer of the Year by the organization. This led Ragle to meet and form close relationships with board members, and when 2018 board applications opened up she decided to self-apply. She is currently serving in her second term as Secretary of the Board of Directors.
“With 15 active board members and 5 active emeritus members—there is a lot of information reported by board members to the board every month,” she said. “It is ridiculous how much we accomplish and as Secretary I get to make that success visible to the Board of Directors. I also make sure we talk about all the important things we need to during the 90-minute meeting we have each month.”
Ragle’s ability to help the Board stay on track and see each project to completion is supported by her certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP) by the Project Management Institute. After moving away from IT support to manage projects for Simon Property Group, she accepted at Pondurance a little over two years ago, and now serves as their Product Manager. Pondurance is an Indianapolis-based cybersecurity consulting and managed services company, with a Security Operations Center that is staffed 24/7/365. Ragle served as product manager and helped guide the development for Pondurance’s very first product to compliment their 24/7/365 threat hunting and response service.
“There’s a lot of elements of project management in product management. On other types of projects, the budget or schedule or goals could be wildly changing. But with product management, there’s a lot more of the people component. And the product may never be complete,” she added. “Part of my ongoing role is to help our team build the product into something that is continuously more valuable for current and new users alike.”
Ragle also has thoughts about how to build Women & Hi Tech into an organization with more constant value for new and current members. “Every week we get new sponsors, which means new members,” she said. “With over 1500 members, it’s becoming apparent we need more regular opportunities to both network and volunteer, because its guaranteed someone in our membership will always have that need.” Ragle also pointed out that even today, outside of begin an event volunteer or a board committee member, there aren’t numerous opportunities to get involved with the organization between being an individual or corporate member and being a full-fledged board member. “Expanding what engagement opportunities come in between that space provides opportunity for those 1500 members (and counting) to get involved in a different way.”
When Ragle thinks of the future ahead for the girls and boys that all learn more about STEM through Women & Hi Tech’s programming, her outlook is bright. “We may not be able to close the gaps for girls everywhere, but we can step in to close them here where we live,” she said. “Girls with interest in STEM will encounter barriers at all different points of their lives, it’s not guaranteed to happen by a certain age or in a certain way. They must have safe environments going into high school and college.” “I love being a woman in tech in Indy and getting to pave the way for those who come next.”
“We have so many companies here that have created the cultures in tech and STEM where diverse people are welcome, and desire to be here,” she concluded. “The more that happens, the more attractive Indiana becomes. Those companies leading the way with diversity are the ones who can pave the way. Others hold them up as role models and will emulate what they are doing to succeed.”