Kaelly Farnham says her job is like getting peek into the future of technology. “I love my job because I get to work with engineers all over the world; brilliant people who are working on emerging technologies. It’s fast-paced and always changing.”
She adds that Keysight technologies are used to design components of cell phones, wearable electronics, air/cockpit communications, high-speed digital paths in modern computers, and radar and military communications.
With a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University in Minnesota and a master’s degree in Mathematical Biology from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Farnham is also passionate about participating in programs to encourage young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
“I find it so refreshing to share and inspire our next-generation of engineers right here in the Bay Area,” she said.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR COMPANY
Professional background: high school math teacher in Dallas, two years; marketing engineer, three years; and marketing manager, one year.
Education: B.A. in mathematics, College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University, Minn.; M.S. in mathematical biology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
I’m a super-energetic marketing manager at Keysight Technologies, responsible for worldwide marketing programs for communications design software tools. I love my job because I get to work with engineers all over the world; brilliant people who are working on emerging technologies. It’s fast-paced and always changing.
Over 70 percent of the products that are used in everyday communications have components that were designed by the Keysight EDA software tool suite. Our products are used to design components in cell phones, wearable electronics, air/cockpit communications, space exploration communications, high-speed digital signal paths in modern computers, and radar and military communications.
I am passionate about encouraging young women to pursue STEM careers and like to share my path to engineering with local students. I also volunteer with two annual one-day conferences to encourage young girls to study engineering, and am a mentor at the local Santa Rosa Junior College’s MESA program, which helps local students graduate with a four-year engineering degree.
MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT IN THE PAST YEAR OR SO
Organizing and recruiting a Keysight delegation of over 50 women to attend the National Society of Women Engineers (SWE) conference in Nashville last year (October 2015), the largest Keysight delegation we’ve ever sent! This was a collaborative effort by the Keysight Society of Women Engineers Enterprise Program (KSWEEP) Council and I was so proud & inspired to see so many women engineers from Keysight at the same place together at the conference.
WHAT IS THE ACHIEVEMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?
Being selected as a member of a committee of Agilent employees to discuss strategy, develop process, brainstorm, and pick a new name for the EM spin-off from Agilent in 2014. We came up with the name Keysight.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE TODAY?
Fostering a collaborative, team atmosphere with employees working all over the world.
WORDS THAT BEST DESCRIBE YOU: Energetic, passionate, enthusiastic, positive
AS A SUCCESSFUL FEMALE PROFESSIONAL, WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES YOU FACED AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
Realizing that it’s okay to be myself! I tried way too hard to mimic the personalities of my co-workers when I first started. I slowly realized I had unique skills, talents, and a way of looking at the world that could make our organization even better. Once I had the courage enough to be myself, work was so much more fun, and I started to make a difference.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR PROFESSION WILL CHANGE IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
I get to work in the high-tech communications industry, so I just can’t wait to see the changes that are coming in the next five years. Engineers are now working on the latest standards to enable 5G technology, which promises faster speeds, seamless handoffs, and fewer dropped calls. And 5G along with the Internet of Things (IoT), will give us a very different, very connected world, which will change how we all communicate with each other. I look forward to “smarter” devices, more collaborative online meeting spaces, and no more wires hanging around all our desks.
WHO WAS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT MENTOR?
Kirt Kisling, my first manager at Keysight Technologies. He took work seriously, but always had a joke in his back pocket, and knew whenever we all needed a laugh. He inspired me by walking to work and home to lunch every day, rain or shine. Throughout his long career, he never lost his creative knack for marketing. He is clever and witty; brainstorming sessions were always fun and entertaining.
He asked me from the very beginning, “Are you good at what you do? How do you know?” As I pondered this in the beginning of my career, it taught me the importance of measuring success and setting tangible goals in all aspects of my work and life. I will also never forget his best advice for being a manager, keep decisions at the lowest level possible.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG WOMAN ENTERING YOUR PROFESSION OR THE WORK WORLD TODAY?
Subscribe to industry newsfeeds, newsletters and magazines — and read them. This helps you learn the lingo and pulse of the industry, and quickly gets you up-to-speed on the current trends and challenges.
MOST ADMIRED BUSINESSPERSON OUTSIDE YOUR ORGANIZATION: David Meerman Scott, a marketing strategist, author and avid blogger from Boston. He is the author of 10 books. His most popular, “The New Rules of Marketing & PR,” has been six months on the BusinessWeek bestseller list and is now considered a modern business classic. His creative ideas and approach to business inspire me encourage me to keep pushing the envelope when it comes to marketing campaigns and ways we can reach new customers.
TYPICAL DAY AT THE OFFICE: I bike to work early so that I can focus on my most creative work before others are in the office. For example, brainstorming a new marketing campaign, creating a new advertisement or writing a blog article.
Then as people come in, my day is usually filled with planning meetings and responding to email. I usually try to take a quick swim with some coworkers on my lunch hour to take a quick break.
Then my afternoons are normally when I have one-to-one meetings and do other projects until my day finishes with a stress-relieving bike ride home down the Fountaingrove hill.
BEST PLACE TO WORK OUTSIDE OF YOUR OFFICE: The Keysight employee garden. It’s my favorite spot for one-to-one meetings.
CURRENT READING: “Crucial Conversation: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High” by Patterson et. al. for probably the 10th time! Every time I re-read it, I get a new nugget that I can use in my life, both work and personal.
MOST WANT TO MEET: Jackie Joyner-Kersee, an American track and field athlete who was voted one of the Greatest Female Athletes of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated. As an athlete myself, I am inspired by Jackie’s determination and passion, and am motivated by all women athletes who shatter the stereotypes of women in sports, showing what it really means to “play like a girl”!
SOCIAL MEDIA YOU MOST USE: None really. I still love a good-ole telephone call to catch-up with friends.
STRESS-RELIEVERS: Bike rides around beautiful Sonoma County.
FAVORITE HOBBIES: Cycling, swimming, hiking, camping, anything outside to enjoy the California sunshine!
WHAT DO YOU DO TO INSPIRE THE NEXT GENERATION OF WOMEN LEADERS IN YOUR WORKPLACE AND IN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY?
I am very passionate about inspiring the next generation of women leaders, both at Keysight and in our local community. Besides being a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), I am as a council member on the Keysight Society of Women Engineers Enterprise Program (KSWEEP), helping support the success and advancement of women engineers in Keysight all over the world.
Here in Santa Rosa, I’m also the communications chair on the Keysight Employee Networking Group, Women in Leadership Development, which provides a forum for women at Keysight to practice leadership skills, volunteer in the community, and resolve workplace issues related to women. I love reaching out to new women engineers, sharing my story, and mentoring and encouraging them.
Outside of Keysight Technologies, I am also very active in my local community of Santa Rosa, California to encourage young women to pursue STEM careers. I volunteer in various STEM programs that encourage school-aged girls to consider careers in engineering including Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, Expanding Your Horizons, and the MESA program at the Santa Rosa Junior College. I find it so refreshing to share and inspire our next-generation of engineers right here in the Bay area.