Mission Critical is excited to introduce you to the 2024 Top 25 Women in Technology. Meet Kara Anderson.

Title: Chief Design and Brand Officer

Company: Sabey Corporation

Age: 58

Education: Bachelor’s in architecture

Organizational affiliations: Licensed architect, Washington State; the American Institute of Architects

Achievements/awards: Most proud of-Juggling a full-time career, while raising my daughter. She’s now a thriving adult in college!

What made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in technology?  

During my youth and school days, my passion was divided between my love for art classes and my proficiency in mathematics. Additionally, I had the influence of a favorite uncle who was an engineer specializing in bridge construction. The combination of these factors crystallized my career aspirations around my junior year in high school, revealing a clear path—I wanted to become an architect. As I delved into the world of architecture, it naturally led me to the realm of development and eventually brought me to the construction of data centers. The journey has been more of a winding path than a sudden decision, but it aligns with the nature of the dynamic and ever-evolving technology sector. Working in this field has instilled in me the importance of embracing lifelong learning.

What inspires you to do what you do?

I’ve always been inspired by the power of pulling together a team of teams to achieve something that others might deem out of reach. I like to say, “if it was easy, someone else would do it”. Working with good people, collaborating towards a challenging, worthy objective-that’s fun stuff!

What role does sustainability play in your life?  

On a professional level, we are constantly working toward building Data Centers that will run more efficiently and buildings that in themselves, are built using the most sustainable means possible. We are proud to be one of the early adapters of the Green Lease leaders and aggressively pursuing our sustainability goals. However, what holds even more importance is our ongoing work in shaping the future. I am part of teams dedicated to exploring how to bring alternative fuel sources onto our sites and of course design facilities to accommodate liquid cooling technologies.

On a personal side, my weekend life has exposed me to sustainable gardening and managing our tree farms through sustainable practices for generations to come. I could write a novel on this topic, so will stop there!

What is the most fascinating thing you have learned while working in this industry?  

The technology industry is in a perpetual state of change. However, the fascinating part is that at the end of the day, what remains constant and unchanging is the significance of relationships and the people who drive the entire process. This fundamental element, rooted in human connections, is the stable anchor amid the ever-shifting landscape of technology.

What’s something unique about you personally?

During the weekdays, my time is consumed by my city work; lot of meetings, travel to job sites, and hours behind the computer screen. However, when the weekend arrives, you'll find me immersed in rural life. Our family is proud to own and manage multiple tree farms, not the Christmas tree variety but those dedicated to lumber. Currently, we are in the midst of renovating an old homestead property that happens to be part of one of these tree farms. This transition from the corporate world to the country life is pretty remarkable. On weekends, I happily trade in my Volvo and heels, for a John Deere gator and Carhartt’s. It's this striking contrast in my lifestyle that brings me joy and a profound sense of fulfillment.

What’s something unique about you professionally?  

My journey into the realm of data centers took an unexpected and winding path. Fresh out of school, I embarked on a career in an architectural firm, swiftly obtaining my license and collaborating with numerous retail developers. It didn't take long for me to realize that my true calling was to be on the owner's side of the table, actively contributing to the entire project puzzle. This realization led me to transition into self-storage development, where I worked for both a major Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) and a privately held company. Over the course of several years, I gained extensive expertise in navigating entitlement processes across the country, delved into a diverse array of construction methods, and gained valuable insights from working in both the publicly traded and private sectors. This varied experience has shaped my multifaceted understanding of the industry and fueled my passion for contributing to comprehensive project development.

What’s your most admirable quality?

I like to think it’s my ability to inspire others, be the voice of reason, while still being inspirational. I also like to think I’m funny, but not sure others would agree.

Why is diversity, equality, and inclusion important to you? 

Diversity, equality, and inclusion are foundational principles that I hold dear. As a woman navigating a predominantly male industry, I am acutely aware of the transformative power these values bring to the table. Embracing diversity means fostering a rich tapestry of perspectives, experiences, and ideas. I firmly believe that diverse teams are inherently more creative and resilient. When individuals from varied backgrounds collaborate, they bring unique insights that lead to better problem-solving and more robust solutions. Equality and inclusion, on the other hand, ensure that everyone's voice is not only heard but valued. In my journey, I've witnessed firsthand how a more inclusive environment nurtures talent and cultivates an atmosphere where individuals can thrive.

What aspect of the industry do you think has the most potential for growth, and, on the other hand, which aspect do you think needs the most improvement?

What I observe is a business that embodies a truly unique fusion of two distinct universes. The construction industry, deeply rooted in historical and proven construction methods, can stand in stark contrast to our focus on building for the forefront of technology. To such an extent that, quite often, what we initially commence constructing and what ultimately materializes within the structure undergoes a dramatic evolution during the 2-3 year process. I believe there is significant potential for the construction industry to evolve by integrating the technology we are building for.

When you imagine the future of the technology industry, what does it look like?

With the emergence of artificial intelligence, I am learning to unlearn. The industry needs to do its best to future-proof and stay agile. We know that we are only at the infancy of how Ai will change our lives and industry. The way I think about the future of technology, we haven’t even scratched the surface of what it will look like!

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