University of Tennessee, Knoxville - Broadcast Communications
To know Kris Matheney is to know a woman who is dedicated to her job 24/7. Literally. As a partner and director of operations at United Future, a WONGDOODY company, Kris manages the project management and day-to-day activities of the agency's client needs. It's her job to make sure that all expectations are met — and often exceeded — as well as on time, on point and on budget. Not only is she sharp and wickedly smart when it comes to her job, but also, because the landscape of the Internet is always changing, newly developed programs have kinks to be smoothed, and oh ya, midnight or 5 a.m. calls from clients and colleagues about a website glitch need to be resolved right then.
Kris' clients have included everyone from Holland America Line to ESPN. And when Kris isn't hand-to-keyboard she can be found singing, listening to live music, shoe shopping or traveling. Read on to find out why Kris never settles and why her focus has helped this Nashville-born-and-raised girl end up in her dream job in Los Angeles.
If you are flexible, a good communicator, and you don't give up, you can do very well in this business.
How did you discover your current job?
I got into the Internet through a recruiter friend who talked me into it in 1998. At that job, I worked with my current business partner. We created United Future so we could create our own future.
What has been your path so far to get you where you are today?
I’ve had many jobs in the Internet, television and commercial effects industry, and I have learned how to, and how not to, produce a great piece of work. After something like 15 years of working my butt off for other people, Scott [Holmes, managing partner, United Future] wanted us to do our own thing (and still work my butt off). I took him up on that offer.
What is your typical day like? Does it ever change?
My days are completely different each day. I have lists of things to do each day, because I typically manage several projects that are in different stages of production. On any given day, I might be:
-Giving a client presentation on digital strategy or design for a project
-Writing proposals and statements of work
-Managing internal staff and billings
-Creating a presentation
-Making and revising schedules and budgets
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Delivering great work and having satisfied employees. I really like owning my own business, although I wasn’t interested in being a partner at first. Initially, I thought that just coming to work was good enough, and I didn’t want to be more obsessed with it than I already was (it’s hard not to be obsessed in the Internet business, since it never, ever sleeps). Now that it has been a few years, I really do appreciate the fact that I have the power to fix whatever problems I, or the employees, have at work. It's like my partners and I really are writing our own destiny. And it gets better each year.
What is the most challenging part?
Same as above -- delivering great work and having satisfied employees.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
Roll with it. The Internet/software business is always changing. This is not a business for people who are inflexible, because the minute you think you understand a technology, it changes. The beauty and the madness is that there will always be someone out there, programming in his parents’ garage, who is smarter than you. You have to be able to deal with being outsmarted and outworked regularly. But if you are flexible, a good communicator, and you don’t give up, you can do very well in this business.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
Technology typically isn’t a women’s industry. Once the guys realize that you are smart and willing to learn anything with humility, it gets easier. You have to earn respect.
Who are your role models?
Um … some of my old employers. Mostly men, to be honest.
Is there a quote or mantra that you live by?
Never settle. It has been the nearest thing to a mantra for me. As a young woman, I promised myself to never get stuck in a relationship, job or city where I wasn’t happy. And I haven’t. I’m here, right? And yes, I’m still very single.
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
Work really, really hard. Read everything. Assume you know nothing, and be humble.