Pssst! Kyle Katt recently sat down with Davood Ghods to discuss collaboration between people, data and technology disciplines in the digital transformation space, and the value of focus on customer experiences related to Launch's services, offerings, and solutions. Listen to the podcast here.
Kyle Katt is an executive stage manager. Launch Senior Partner Nick Curia calls him “a megaphone for our company's soul—a force multiplier who elevates our best qualities and works on the rest behind the scenes.” His ability to listen and observe, and then devise a solution to any challenge, comes from a career of astonishing breadth. Kyle’s not just a brilliant technologist. He’s also an entrepreneur at heart, with experience in sales, finance, business management, resourcing, and more.
That’s why he’s shifting gears—from being Launch’s CTO to becoming our first Chief Experience Officer. A champion of digital accessibility and a steward of our Studios, Kyle will use his diverse background to grow and spread our expertise.
We sat down with Kyle to learn more about his experience, what he’s most passionate about, and—very importantly—his favorite tech gadget.
Launch: Tell us a little bit about your background and time at Launch.
Kyle Katt: I've been part of Launch since 2016. I came into Launch through the merger with 110 Consulting. Heinrich and I were the co-founders of 110 Consulting back in 2007 - he was the CEO and I was the CTO.
When we merged with Launch, I initially managed our data analytics and data science functional areas. My personal background is very heavily focused on data—and data architecture, specifically—so I managed all the data resources and consultants. Then last year, I took on the role of CTO for Launch, which has me managing our technology leadership team and solution architects.
This year, I’ve moved into becoming Chief Experience Officer (CXO). Now I manage all of what we call our Studios—our expert practices around technology, leadership, data, software engineering, enterprise systems, and human impact. And the goal with those is to bring all our disciplines together, so that we have a more collaborative and integrated approach to people, data, and technology.
L: Can you tell me what gets you excited about this new role and chapter at Launch?
KK: I’ve spent the last 21 years within various consulting companies, but also personally working within sales, operations, marketing, finance groups, and data. So, part of what keeps me excited about being at Launch is staying connected to some of those types of projects. And my current role as CXO lets me stay plugged into some of our bigger engagements from a variety of those perspectives.
I'm always looking to expand my own horizons. I have a strong background in data, software engineering, and technology leadership, but adding in new capabilities around human experience, strategy, creative design, organizational effectiveness, and learning and development make me excited to learn about what these Studios bring to the table and how to best integrate them and collaborate with the other studios that I’m more familiar with.
L: We’ve heard that—on top of all you do in your role—you’ve started a new initiative around disability awareness. Can you tell us more about that?
KK: About 12 years ago, I discovered I have a genetic eye condition that caused my eyesight to start getting bad and after progressing over the past several years, I’ve become legally blind. So, I can't drive my car anymore or be on my computer doing my own thing.
[Those challenges] have helped me always focus on making complex things simpler. So, when we merged in our energy and government businesses from Direct Technology earlier this year, we learned more about one of the pieces of work they've done over the years: digital accessibility with the State of California.
There are a lot of state and federal laws about public content being digitally accessible for people with any type of disability. So Davood [Ghods]—with his long background in the government space—and I, with my personal connection to this cause and having done some digital access work at Microsoft, partnered to build a new offering for Launch around digital accessibility strategy and remediation. It’s a new initiative that we’ve recently launched, and we’re now working on baking it into our sales and marketing plan going forward.
L: That’s important work—thank you for sharing. What other projects are you most proud to have been part of?
KK: The project that I'm most proud of to have been personally involved in is our Microsoft Finance managed service. It falls within our Modern Finance Sector and it's something that Charlene Coleman and I were heavily involved in starting back in 2012 at 110 Consulting.
Over these last nine years, we've grown that project from just two people working on that engagement…to around 50 people! The Microsoft Finance managed dashboard project is one of our longest-running and highest-impact projects, and we often reference it in our materials around data and analytics. So, the visibility and impact of the output of that project has been super exciting to see, and something that I've been proud of being a part of for nine years.
L: That’s some impressive growth! There are clearly many ways you exemplify what it means to live boldly, both personally and professionally, but what would you say about how you see yourself living boldly?
KK: On the personal side, I would say going through all the challenges with my eyesight over the last 10 years has been a daily bold pursuit, especially working in the digital transformation world. That world is a passion and driver for me every day.
Additionally, Launch is a very entrepreneurial company. Consulting in general requires a very entrepreneurial and growth-oriented mindset, so the type of company we work for really fosters and inspires bold thinking. That's why I've stayed in this industry my whole career and why I've stayed at Launch for the last six years[since the 110 merger]. That entrepreneurial spirit is, I feel, the definition of boldness.
L: Love that view of boldness. Now for some more fun stuff…Aside from your phone, what is your favorite tech item?
KK: I think my favorite is Alexa, simply because there's so much I can do with that, given my eyesight challenges. My son will be playing Xbox and my daughter might be using her iPad, but I can still tell Alexa to play whatever music I want to listen to or change it to a news channel or tell me where all my stocks are, at any point in time.
L: Last question: If you could go back and give your 25-year-old self a piece of professional advice, what would it be?
KK: There’s a movie I like called Molly's Game, where she goes through a bunch of trials and tribulations. And at the end of the movie, when everything finally turns out okay, they end with a quote from Winston Churchill: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
So, I would go back and tell myself that it's okay to fail. It's okay to mess up. You're going to learn from that.
And you will be smarter, stronger, and better for having gone through it.