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Women of Tech 2016 | Kim Keever: From Beverages to Broadband - Multichannel

Women of Tech 2016 | Kim Keever: From Beverages to Broadband

Cox Communications VP/CIO left a top Atlanta employer and discovered another
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Kim Keever loved her job as chief information security officer at The Coca-Cola Co.’s bottling operation. She loved it so much that when Cox came calling in the summer of 2014, she was friendly, but insistent: It just wasn’t going to happen.

Now, as vice president and chief information security officer for the Atlanta-based service provider, she cringes at the memory, commending Cox as the “best employer I’ve ever had.”

In her role overseeing companywide security and all “cross-technology” functions (which she defines as “anything everyone has to do”), Keever deals with a much higher and more complex threat profile than with the famous beverage. There, it was more about protecting the brand from “hacktivists”; at Cox, it’s about protecting much more sensitive information, across multiple (and often shifting) platforms. Keever, whose father careered at BellSouth, spoke with Multichannel News tech correspondent Leslie Ellis.

More WoT: Keever is one of five execs selected for MCN's 2016 Women of Tech list; read about the others in Setting the Pace for Innovation [subscription required] and watch for a daily profile of each Sept. 26-30 at multichannel.com/WomenOfTech.

MCN: What did you want to be when you grew up?

Kim Keever: I didn’t know exactly, but I knew that scientific things interested me. I was one of those kids — I drove my mother crazy; I drive my husband and my kids crazy — I want to know how and why things work. This summer, my son was in a baseball tournament, and we’re driving by these big, smokestack reactors, and I say, “Let’s go look!” My kids were like, “OMG, Mom. Stop it.”

MCN: First job?

KK: My first real job was at Accenture. I had studied chemical engineering and industrial management (at Georgia Tech), but I wasn’t sure exactly what industry was right. There, I could experiment with different things. My very first job was at an ice cream store. I got fired because I wouldn’t serve hollow ice cream balls just to save money. I think of it as kind of a prelude.

MCN: What’s on top of your to-do list these days?

KK: At work, it’s driving the cybersecurity agenda, as well as the governance process of our cross-technology functions. At home, my to-do list is to manage all of my kids — I have a son, 16, a daughter, 15, and another daughter, 12. So, getting one to baseball, one to volleyball, one to the horse stables.

MCN: When and where are you happiest?

KK: This is a hard one, because as corny as it sounds, I believe that it’s everyone’s choice to be happy or not. I tell my kids this all the time: It’s your decision, whether you’re negative, or positive. I tell them: Figure out what makes you happy, and do whatever that is.

MCN: Most important quality for women to possess?

KK: Self-confidence. In this kind of job, I see it all — the dirty stuff, the bad stuff — and I’m often the only woman in the room. It doesn’t faze me. Also, I’m not sure if this characteristic has a name, but I realized early on that if you find something nobody else wants to do, and you do it well and you like doing it? That works regardless of gender.

MCN: What technology word drives you batty?

KK: “Hackathon.” It doesn’t say what it is. To me, a hack means you’re a bad person who wants to break things. What we call “hackathons” are really more like fun things for people to do. They’re not about breaking anything.

MCN: What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

KK: Anything that involves being outdoors with my family.

MCN: Best or worst advice you’ve ever received?

KK: Worst was, a woman once told me that if I wanted people to take me seriously, I had to cut my hair!

MCN: Favorite book of all time?

KK: I have very little time to read, but when I do, I read the books my brother-in-law writes — Bret Witter — he wrote The Monuments Men, Until Tuesday and Until I Say Goodbye, among others.

MCN: Favorite gadget or app?

KK: I love Waze. I’m not directionally challenged, but it gets you around all the traffic. That’s important here in Atlanta!

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