#ClouderaLife Spotlight: Kevin Smith, Staff Customer Operations Engineer

Meet Kevin Smith, a Staff Customer Operations Engineer within the US Public Sector support team. He sums up his day-to-day by saying he works directly with clients on technical cases and provides support and guidance as they troubleshoot unexpected behavior. He also serves as a member of several project teams focusing on upgrade experiences, internal tools, product testing, training, and documentation.

Kevin is passionate about his role and does his best to keep his skills sharp. He invests in his continued education learning and brushing up on anything that will add impact to his work and team. 

He really enjoys the art of storytelling. 

Raised by his mother and grandmother, Kevin was drawn to reading, movies and video games because, as he says, “each medium gives you a chance to immerse yourself in an experience or learn a story”. 

He credits Maya Angelou as a reason he cares so much about stories. As she has implied, “we are the sum of our experiences” and Kevin takes this to heart. It’s this understanding that leads him to see that every experience – every story we create – is an opportunity to learn and grow. 

When he was young, Kevin recalls always being interested in how things worked. The art of storytelling was one of the first things that really clicked for him and he began looking for stories in everything from a grocery bag in the wind to a faulty power supply in a PC. This grew into a natural enthusiasm for technology. 

Kevin entered the tech industry as an Advisor at Apple. 

As he seized more opportunities and grew in his success, he noticed something interesting. “I saw less people who looked like me.”  Seeing fewer and fewer people of color triggered something he hadn’t anticipated – Imposter Syndrome

“With a smile on my face, I would stifle the voices that said I was “not really good enough” to be in this position.” Despite seeing his own efforts to go above and beyond and the results he achieved, to him “success felt like borrowed time”.

He soon realized these feelings came up because he wanted to see people who looked like him forge a path before him. Because that wasn’t the case, he stepped up and decided he needed to be that person for others to see. “I can’t be the only one who has felt this so having more people of color is just as much about inclusion and diversity as it is about mental health to me.”

As a Black man, he feels differences for people of color outside of work too.

He notes how quickly the world around him has changed.

“In my short life, I have seen the rise of the Internet, the fall of Blockbuster, the prevalence of alternative energy, and more. Yet I still hesitate when wearing a black hoodie. I still hesitate to run in new locations. I still trade smiles and nods with my neighbors as a defense mechanism because their camera phone could be my last will and testament. And I still know that my words weigh but feathers in the court of public opinion when the other side has a lesser degree of melanin.” 

For him, these lack of changes spark a greater desire. “I would love to be in a place where I could feel or see the same change in my daily life as an African-American as I do in my daily life as a consumer.” 

While these changes are lacking, he does give credit to Cloudera for the work they’ve done on this front. “I’ve seen the efforts by Cloudera towards this goal of inclusion and not just for African-Americans but for all.” From promoting people of color and taking Unconscious Bias training to investing time into understanding our hiring rhetoric and creating sincere pathways for speaking up, he feels like we are making progress. 

“The path forward is unknown so all we can do is make sure the road in our headlights is straight and for that, I’d give Cloudera an A+.”

When Kevin isn’t busy furthering his education and busting through imposter syndrome, you can find him testing his new skills in the kitchen. Since Covid started, he has made all types of bread, cookies, and pies! 

To read more about other Clouderans, visit our blogs page here. 

Rory Ruedas
Talent Branding Specialist
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