What Makes A Great Manager?
In an era where every company hires tech talent, candidates are looking for companies with great managers, strong company culture and purpose. Katie Hammerschmidt, Software Engineering Manager at Cox Automotive, reflects on what it means to manage a team, solve problems and her personal growth story at Cox.
Changing the world one puzzle piece at a time was the life of Katie Hammerschmidt at a young age, but as fate would have it, Katie’s hobbies in puzzle completion and solving word problems led to an eager passion for science.
“My grandfather was an engineer and while we didn’t talk much about his profession growing up, his way of solving problems and critical thinking helped influence my mindset in how I approach problems,” said Katie, Software Engineering Manager.
Fast forward to Katie’s current day-to-day in Media Engineering, regularly managing a team of 10+ developers and software engineers. On the topic of management and leadership styles, Katie believes “servant leadership” has been one of the best ways to lead her team.
“Managing a team is all about helping people; whether it’s in their day-to-day tasks or personal development,” Katie shares. “I am available for my teams and love to partner with them to find the best opportunities that will help us move the needle in the right direction for the company.”
Katie says her servant leadership style has led to her team of techies to be comfortable with tackling problems together and facing the issues head on.
“It’s really important to create a healthy team environment where we can talk face-to-face with one another about a problem, work together to figure out the issue and hold each other accountable,” she said. “I believe my role as a manager is to ultimately help each team member develop the right skills, collaborate with one another, and be equipped with the toolsets to get the job done.”
Katie, an eight-year Cox employee with automotive brand Dealer.com, grown her tech career over the course of several unique opportunities, one of them leading to an incredible adventure to relocate her family from coast to coast — Burlington, Vermont (Dealer.com HQ) to Manhattan Beach, California (Dealer.com).
“We were very settled in Vermont, my husband and I had our home and our son Zavier at the time, but I was comfortable moving because I knew we would be taken care of since I was staying with the Cox company, Dealer.com,” she said. “I trusted that this career change, while it provided a lot of unknowns, was a good opportunity and a great learning experience for me to grow and still take care of my family.”
“After my awesome experience in California I decided to return to Vermont, and I noticed immediately it was like no time had passed,” she continued. “The people and the energy were still how I remembered it — very open office spaces, working pods for team collaboration, chatting and smiling people down every hallway and the ‘go big or go home’ spirit of innovation, iteration and drive to be the best we can be. It’s an exciting place to be.”
For those starting a career in technology or those with more experience, Cox has many opportunities to explore, many of which are open to relocation benefits.
“Be open to opportunities,” Katie advises. “Take risks, make mistakes and from those mistakes learn how to course correct and get to where you want to be.”
Katie is originally from Massachusetts and studied thermochemical engineering at Smith College. She lives in Vermont with her husband of 10 years, Adam, and their sons Zavier (6), Wyatt (7 mos.) and curly, golden dog named Oliver.
For more information about Cox Automotive, or to search for a career with us, please visit our website.