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Category Archives: KAI Partners Staff Profile

KAI Partners Staff Profile: The Senior Project Manager

Government, Healthcare, Innovation in the Public Sector, KAI Partners, KAI Partners Staff Profile, Learning, Project Management, Project Management Professional (PMP), Public Sector, Sacramento, Training

There are many paths to success and while not everyone takes the same path, we often manage to arrive at the same destination. In our KAI Partners Staff Profile series, we share interviews and insight from some of our own employees here at KAI Partners. Our staff brings a diversity in education, professional, and life experience, all of which demonstrate that the traditional route is not necessarily the one that must be traveled in order to achieve success.

Today, we bring you the journey of Nick Sherrell, a Senior Project Manager who works with the Project Management Office for one of KAI Partners’ public sector health care clients.

KAI Partners, Inc.: How did you get into your line of work?

Nick: Oddly enough, it all started with me wanting to become a Physician Assistant! Part of getting into a PA program requires shadowing an acting PA and gaining hands-on experience into the nature of the work. While shadowing a PA at the Sacramento Native American Health Center (SNAHC), I ended up being offered an opportunity to work for the clinic as a Patient Care Coordinator. My experience in this role opened my eyes to the number of challenges people faced in interacting with the health care system as a whole. Many people struggle to gain access to affordable, quality health care. This role changed my career trajectory from clinical care to wanting to help be a part of impacting the system to ensure more people are able to access quality care and live healthier lives. From then on, I have worked in roles gaining more and more experience and responsibility doing work within health care systems. This ultimately led to roles in Quality, Performance Improvement, Tech Implementation, Clinical Variation Reduction, and Project Management.

KAI: Are there any certifications or trainings you’ve gone through that have helped in your career?

Nick: Absolutely! The first thing I realized when I made my decision to move from clinical care to administration was that I needed to gain more knowledge of business. My college career to that point focused heavily on the Sciences (Psychology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, etc.). I decided to go back to school to obtain an MBA at UC Davis. This experience helped my career TREMENDOUSLY!

KAI: What is your favorite part about your line of work and why?

Nick: I love seeing hard work translate into better process and more efficient systems and seeing that work reverberate throughout the community.

KAI: What is one of the most common questions you receive from clients and what counsel or advice do you give them?

Nick: A question I often get is “how can we get better at what we are doing?” My counsel or advice is usually based in first knowing where you are, embracing the imperfection, and building a measurable path to improvement through multiple small steps. Too often I encounter organizations that have a fear-based culture when it comes to metrics. It usually starts with a manager or executive who reviews metrics and lashes out at any report that spits out anything in red ink. Staff become afraid of being the messenger of sharing the red ink information, and then ultimately (and sometimes subconsciously) start to do things to prevent the red.

My advice, EMBRACE THE RED! Red doesn’t necessarily mean poor performance, it means an opportunity to work together to improve something. For me, it’s more of a Eureka moment!

Now that we’ve learned more about Nick’s background and project management work, here’s a little more about him!

Quick Q&A with Nick:

Daily, must-visit website: MLB At-Bat App. ALL the highlights!

Preferred genre of music or podcast to listen to:  Usually of the Rock / Blues / Acoustic variety. Podcasts, anything funny! Right now, I’m listening to ‘Conan Needs A Friend.’ Good stuff!

Best professional advice received: Measure it, but make it worth measuring!

Book you can read over and over again: Dragons Love Tacos (guess who has a two-year-old?!)

Most-recent binge-watched show: Game of Thrones.

About Nick: Nick Sherrell is a Project Manager with over 10 years of healthcare experience ranging from Quality, Performance Improvement, Technology Implementation, Data Analysis, and Consulting. Nick has worked with organizations ranging from the Sacramento Native American Health Center, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, Blue Shield of California, and The Advisory Board Company. He currently works for KAI Partners, Inc as a Project Manager Consultant on a Public contract with the State of California. He received his MBA from UC Davis in 2015 with an emphasis in Organizational Behavior and Innovation. He became a Certified ScrumMaster in 2018 through Scrum Alliance training offered at KAIP Academy. He lives in Sacramento with his wife, two children, and Golden Retriever Emma. Find Nick on LinkedIn here.

KAI Partners Staff Profile: The Communications Consultant

Communications, Government, KAI Partners, KAI Partners Staff Profile, Learning, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Sacramento

There are many paths to success and while not everyone takes the same path, we often manage to arrive at the same destination. In our KAI Partners Staff Profile series, we share interviews and insights from some of our own employees here at KAI Partners. Our staff brings a diversity in education, professional, and life experience, all of which demonstrate that the traditional route is not necessarily the one that must be traveled in order to achieve success.

Today, we bring you the journey of Ryan Hatcher, a Communications and OCM Consultant for one of KAI Partners’ public-sector clients.

KAI Partners, Inc.: How did you get into your line of work?

Ryan: About two years ago, I submitted an application to a company I’d never heard of based on a vague job description. Through a long series of interviews, I learned a little more about the job and started to get ideas of how I could fit into the role and the company. By the end, I still didn’t totally grasp what the work would be, but I was confident that I could help.

When I started in the political world more than a decade ago, things were a bit messier. I had a professor who started me down a long path of informational interviews until I convinced someone that I could successfully manage a Republican party office in Oakland. It wasn’t what I set out to do a couple months prior, but it was an opportunity.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the years developing new business and clients—whether political, non-profit or corporate, I’ve learned that the work always follows the same path: find someone with a need, learn all about it, and come up a with a way to help.

KAI: Are there any certifications or trainings you’ve gone through that have helped in your career?

RH: Working at KAI Partners is essentially a constant training ground. I’ve learned a ton about the consulting business, state IT projects, procurement, and several other aspects of this field.

KAI: What is your favorite part about your line of work and why?

RH: Finding ways to be creative. It’s not always easy in a rigid, government environment to exercise creativity but that’s also what makes it so rewarding. Understanding how things work and discovering ways to creatively navigate complex systems can be fun.

KAI: What is one of the most common question you receive from clients and what counsel or advice do you give them?

RH: Working in communications, I get a lot of questions about how to word things or phrase news to best influence the audience. Generally, I ask them to think of the audience and try to imagine how they would understand/receive the information. Effective communication isn’t about clever wording or grand oration, it’s about connecting with people on their level and in their language.

Now that we’ve learned more about Ryan’s communications work, here’s a little more about him!

Quick Q&A with Ryan:

Daily, must-visit website: news.google.com, reddit.com/aww

Preferred genre of music or podcast to listen to: Classic rock, Broadway/Disney musicals, indie/folk, country.

Best professional advice received: “Plant what you want to harvest in 4, 7, and 10 years,” and “In life or business, relationships are the best investment you can make.”

Book you can read over and over again: The Hitchhiker’s Guide series by Douglas Adams

Most-recent binge-watched show: Better Call Saul

About Ryan: I have three hobbies: Husbanding, dog parenting, and tinkering. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen experimenting or in my garage/yard building things.

KAI Partners Staff Profile: The Data Architect

Business Analysis, Data Architect, Data Management, Data Science, Government, IT Modernization, KAI Partners, KAI Partners Staff Profile, Learning, Project Management, Sacramento, Technology, Training

There are many paths to success and while not everyone takes the same path, we often manage to arrive at the same destination. In our KAI Partners Staff Profile series, we share interviews and insight from some of our own employees here at KAI Partners. Our staff brings a diversity in education, professional, and life experience, all of which demonstrate that the traditional route is not necessarily the one that must be traveled in order to achieve success.

Today, we bring you the journey of Ajay Bhat, Senior Data Architect, KAI Partners Inc. who works as Enterprise Data Architect for one of KAI Partners’ public sector clients. His role involves managing different Data Management activities and architecting solutions to meet the client’s needs.

KAI Partners, Inc.: How did you get into your line of work?

Ajay Bhat: My first job as GET (Graduate Engineer Trainee) was assisting in doing Business Process Reengineering and helping implement Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Though a Mechanical Engineer by background, my first job introduced me to various IT tools used for ERP implementation.  Over a period of time, I got trained in different ERP softwares.

KAI: Are there any certifications or trainings you’ve gone through that have helped in your career?

AB: Staying up with technology is something that I have always liked. I have completed certifications in Oracle, JAVA, and SAS. I did some self-learning courses in Big Data technologies and Data Science. I also went back to school to get my MBA in Business Intelligence from University of Colorado, Denver.

KAI: What is your favorite part about your line of work and why?

AB: Problem solving is my favorite part of my job. When I go to work, there is always an issue to resolve that involves some aspect of critical thinking. Using technology to implement solutions is another thing I like about my job.

KAI: What is one of the most common question you receive from clients and what counsel or advice do you give them?

AB: Depending on the project, the questions may vary, but most frequently I am asked how I am able to switch the roles on a project so fast. One day I may be a Database programmer, DBA another day, data Modeler, BI guy, or Data Architect some other day. Switching between roles is what I do frequently. My answer to this is that any role is a series of small logical steps. It may seem quite overwhelming from a distance, but if we break it down into a series of logical steps, it is doable. This directly applies to any problem solving I do in my day-to-day life as well.

Now that we’ve learned more about Ajay’s data architecture work, here’s a little more about him!

Quick Q&A with Ajay:

Daily, must-visit website(s):
https://github.com/
https://www.kdnuggets.com/datasets/index.html
https://www.kaggle.com/
https://slack.com/

Preferred genre of music or podcast to listen to: Classic jazz, Bollywood music

Best professional advice received: At the end of day it is just another day at work, do your best.

Book you can read over and over again: Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

Most-recent binge-watched show: I don’t binge watch now, but did binge “24” a while ago

 About Ajay: Ajay currently supports a public sector client doing Data Management. Besides work, he loves outdoor activities, racquetball, running and a game of chess. He also practices meditation regularly.

KAI Partners Staff Profile: The OCM Consultant

Business Analysis, Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Communications, Continuous Improvement, Corporate Training, Government, Healthcare, Human Resources, KAI Partners, KAI Partners Staff Profile, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Learning, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Process Improvement, Professional Development, Prosci, Sacramento, Six Sigma, Technology

There are many paths to success and while not everyone takes the same path, we often manage to arrive at the same destination. In our KAI Partners Staff Profile series, we share interviews and insight from some of our own employees here at KAI Partners. Our staff brings a diversity in education, professional, and life experience, all of which demonstrate that the traditional route is not necessarily the one that must be traveled in order to achieve success.

Today, we bring you the journey of Denise Larcade, an Organizational Change Management (OCM) Consultant for KAI Partners. Denise recently supported Business Process Re-engineering implementation for a KAI Partners client before moving on to implement some special projects at KAI Partners headquarters. Denise’s next client-facing role starts soon—she will be an OCM consultant for a California public sector state agency to help them move from a paper system to an electronic process.

KAI Partners, Inc.: How did you get into your line of work?

Denise Larcade: I started in grocery retail working in the stores—I found areas where I excelled and was able to implement Human Resource, Technology, and Operations practices. The grocery industry, much like banking and airlines, fell into mergers and acquisitions. I was placed on various mergers and acquisitions teams and due to my experience, eventually led activities to support retail mergers and acquisitions. My last merger came with a relocation from Idaho to Minnesota which didn’t work for my family at that time, so I chose to go back to school and get my bachelor’s degree. Not enough to fill my time and still residing in Idaho, I looked for local opportunities where my skills would transfer outside of the retail industry. I was hired on as a contractor to a local tech firm headquartered in Boise, Idaho to work on HR restructuring. While creating a plan to support HR restructuring, I saw an opportunity to move from paper-based manual processes to electronic stream-lined process improvements. My next venture, also outside of my roots in retail, was to lead training and development efforts to support the implementation of Idaho state’s new MMIS (Medicaid Management Information System). Two years in, I received the phone call from a former Idaho colleague at MMIS to support training and development on California’s MMIS. This was the opportunity to move back home to California, and I was excited to spend more time with my 96-year-old grandmother. I moved back to California and was fortunate to have three quality years with the matriarch of our family.

KAI: Are there any certifications or trainings you’ve gone through that have helped in your career?

DL: I received training and certification as part of leadership development when I worked in grocery retail. This training was instrumental in understanding the people side of change long before Prosci was identified as a Change Methodology. My experience in mergers and acquisitions prepared me for being a leader for change. Later, getting my Prosci certification was a desire as the methodology aligned to activities I valued in my merger and acquisitions experience.

I have been twice certified as a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. The first time was more than 20 years ago and my recent certification occurred earlier in 2018. It was nice to compare what is still a valued practice in Lean Six Sigma methodologies and how technology advancements provide a more streamlined approach to process improvement.

KAI: What is your favorite part about your line of work and why?

DL: Teaching others and assisting resistors through change. No one likes change and what I find most interesting is that we adapt and make changes in our personal lives every day, so why are we not as willing to make changes in our work lives? I like leading a group through the awareness of making a personal change and how and why adopting that same mindset is valuable to you, to others, and to your employer in your work life.

KAI: What is one of the most common question you receive from clients and what counsel or advice do you give them?

DL: “Why do we have to change? We have been doing it this way forever. Doesn’t ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ apply?” My advice is to walk people through their personal life changes, e.g., The oven still works and isn’t broken, so why would you invest in a microwave? What are the benefits of a microwave versus an oven? Do those benefits support the investment? There are so many examples that support change. If we don’t change as a business, how can we be current and competitive?

Now that we’ve learned more about Denise’s OCM work, here’s a little more about her!

Quick Q&A with Denise:

Daily, must-visit website: I don’t have one, but I subscribe to many technology and change newsletters.  Sometimes you need something that pertains to your current focus of work.

Preferred genre of music or podcast to listen to: Top Pop and Top Country—I like to be relatable to the generations following mine. The music is usually uplifting and gives me lots of positive energy.

Best professional advice received: My grandfather was a great businessman; he developed his own corporation and was successful as a professional business leader, CEO, and mentor. He always said, “Your word is your commitment and treat others how you would like to be treated.”

Book you can read over and over again: Jack Welch’s book “Winning.” I could read it over and over again and it always pertains to my work at hand.

Most-recent binge-watched show: I don’t watch much TV and tend to turn it on for background noise; however, I am a fan of Survivor and the Amazing Race. I love to watch people problem-solve and I like to be on teams where people problem-solve.

About Denise: Denise Larcade is an Organizational Development Consultant and Merger and Acquisitions Expert. She is a Certified ScrumMaster, Certified Scrum Product Owner, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and is Prosci certified. She has over 25 years of experience in training, development, and leading companies through organizational change management. Denise has worked in corporate retail, technology, and government healthcare and most recently has experience with large-scale implementations nationwide. She currently works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc., providing client support to KAI Partners’ state clients. Denise grew up in the Silicon Valley and relocated to Utah and Idaho before recently returning to her native California roots.

KAI Partners Staff Profile: The Enterprise Architect

Agile, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Enterprise Architecture, Government, KAI Partners, KAI Partners Staff Profile, Sacramento, Scrum, Technology

There are many paths to success and while not everyone takes the same path, we often manage to arrive at the same destination. In our KAI Partners Staff Profile series, we share interviews and insight from some of our own employees here at KAI Partners. Our staff brings a diversity in education, professional, and life experience, all of which demonstrate that the traditional route is not necessarily the one that must be traveled in order to achieve success.

Today, we bring you the journey of one of our Consultants, Steven Duart. Steven works with one of KAI Partners’ public sector clients as an Integration Enterprise Architect. He helps implement the structure, guardrails, and guidelines for the future product development teams to modernize a large-scale statewide information system.

KAI Partners, Inc.: How did you get into Enterprise Architecture consulting work?

Steven Duart: I was recently told that I have a thought process of an Architect. Reflecting on that comment, I believe that mindset was developed through both education and experiences. I went with a traditional education route and received a Bachelor’s degree in computer science, a second Bachelor’s degree in technical studies, and a Master’s in computer information systems. The experiences of having to design a technical architecture for client that did not understand their business and working for a State agency that did not know what their true mandate is have matured my mindset which is naturally analytical and good at synthesis, abstraction, visualization, imagination, and practicality. I believe that I have always been an architect, but the realization did not happen until I was surrounded by like-minded individuals in the work I currently do.

KAI: Are there any certifications or trainings you’ve gone through that have helped in your career?

SD: It was not until around the past five years that I started to obtain certifications. In the past two years I have received two certifications, Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM) and TOGAF® 9 Certification (The Open Group Architecture Framework). I believe those two certifications have helped me establish myself at and allowed me to take on additional roles. The TOGAF® 9 Certification has given me the knowledge of their framework and how to tailor their framework to develop an architecture for clients.  It has been a benefit for State clients because the TOGAF® 9 Certification is internationally recognized. In addition to my CSM and TOGAF, I also hold a certification in Functional Programming Principles in Scala and am a Certified Paralegal.

Here are a few certifications I am evaluating to help me provide better service to clients:

  • AWS Solution Architect
  • Certified Business Architect
  • Certified Product Owner

KAI: What is your favorite part about your line of work and why?

SD: My favorite part of Enterprise Architecture is that it is a unique line of work which juggles past, present, and future. We must focus on the future, while living in the now and being completely aware of the past. This drives my thinking, impact, and presence. It allows for me to put the customer at the center of an approach (i.e., Agile) and design technology around the customer’s unique needs. This enables innovation of a product service experience through iterative, incremental activations which delivers continuous enterprise transformation at speed and scale.

KAI: What is one of the most common question you receive from clients and what counsel or advice do you give them?

SD: The most common question I get is, “Why do I need a ‘Framework’ for IT Architecture?” The advice I give is that using an architectural framework will speed up and simplify the architecture development. This will ensure more complete coverage of the designed solution and make certain that the architecture selected allows for future scalability in response to the needs of the business.

Now that we’ve learned more about Steven’s Enterprise Architecture work, here’s a little more about him!

Quick Q&A with Steven:

Daily, must-visit website:

Preferred genre of music or podcast to listen to:

  • Music
  • Hawaiian R&B
  • Reggae
  • Rap
  • Indie
  • Podcast
  • Security Now
  • tv
  • Hollywood Babble On (This is a fun podcast, but may not be for everyone)

Best professional advice received:

  • The best career advice I received was to be persistent and resilient and to not let detours or failures derail my career. Successful men and women frequently have failures and detours in their careers, but do not let those bumps dissuade them. In fact, for successful people, failures are a part of success and detours are seen as opportunities to push your career further ahead.

Book you can read over and over again:

  • Beyond the Band of Brothers
  • The Biggest Brother

Most-recent binge-watched show:

  • Silicon Valley
  • Big Bang Theory
  • Archer

About Steven: Steven Duart is an Enterprise Architect who works with one of KAI Partners’ public-sector clients. Steven partnered with KAI Partners to launch an Enterprise Architecture practice to deliver business driven experiences at the intersection of strategy, design, behaviors, and products.  Steven is a certified in TOGAF and has a Master’s degree in computer information systems from St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas. Steven is a die hard Notre Dame football fan, he enjoys playing recreational sports, and could go to the movies daily.

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