Get to know the AME team! I’ll be sharing a series of fun Q&As of AME staff and board officers in future CEO letters. This week, enjoy an interview of yours truly.
Kim Humphrey, AME president and CEO
1. How does your childhood dream career align with what you do now?
When I was a child, all I ever dreamed about was being a lawyer. My plan all the way up to college was to be one. Once in college, I knew my passion was aligned more with business and quality and how to make things operate better. Fast forward, I do both (business and operations). One with AME in leadership and continuous improvement (after years in quality, manufacturing and supply chain in automotive, business systems and building nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines for the U.S. Navy) and the other as a volunteer Virginia Supreme Court certified mediator and mentor working with the legal system, mainly mediating family cases in Virginia.
2. How does your inner child's creativity show up at work?
I am a learner and always a questioner. As a friend shared with me early in my career, “Just do it – if it doesn’t work, just say ‘next.’” Because I work with incredible, innovative people, this AME role is exciting. Change is happening at such a fast pace that we must be creative, innovative and adaptable. As our founder Doc Hall shares, “we need to be rebels.” Isn’t that what children do? They push the envelope of creativity and just about everything else. They imagine the impossible. I believe our AME members are still those children looking for the best and most fun ways to get the job done better.
3. Describe AME's company culture in one word.
Share-Learn-Grow - not one word, but that truly is AME.
4. What do you love the most about working at AME?
Oh, my goodness, what is not to love? Even though I started less than one month before COVID-19, this is still the most incredible experience of my lifetime. I love working with the home team and meeting the members and volunteers – some straight out of the textbooks I studied in my career. It is such a humbling experience, and I learn something new every day. The interaction and passion of the members, board, team and volunteers are so joyful. My greatest joy is connecting people to AME.
5. What inspired your career path when you first started out in the workforce?
I was always the one to jump at opportunities and volunteer. If there was something new to learn, I was first in line. I remember one time in my career, I had the most amazing and challenging mentor, Dudley Lewis. I really wanted the opportunity to lead automotive warranty. Yes, I know, what was I thinking?! I remember clearly as he said over and over to me, “You are not qualified.” I finally convinced him after much begging that I would be awesome. Our deal was that if I succeeded, he would take full credit for my success, and if I failed, I failed alone. He didn’t mean it, of course, but I was allowed to challenge myself because of his incredible leadership. I learned quickly to pay it forward and how powerful mentorship is. I still credit Dudley for encouraging me in my career, and I know I would not be here today if it weren’t for him. He helped me realize that while strong mentors are essential, one must also work hard to earn respect. Nothing will or should be given to you. He held me fully accountable.
Conversely, I also learned early in my career not to let others stop me. If you believe you can, you will. I stood up for what I believed was right and fair very early in my career and never stopped being grateful. AME Board member Billy Taylor shared, “What you accept, you cannot change. What you tolerate, you can never change.” I believe that as well and have lived it throughout my career.
6. What is your secret talent?
Goodness, I believe it is to surround myself with smart people. One of my board members says I am also good at getting people connected and finding where they will fit best. I will never be as good of a connector as the connecter extraordinaire, AME volunteer Glenn Marshall, however much I aspire to be. I have known Glenn for decades and always tell him that is his superpower.
7. Name three of your personality traits you are proud of.
Authenticity, honesty/integrity and creativity.
Authenticity: People will trust you when you are authentic. There is no reason to pretend.
Honesty and integrity: These are very high in my value system. My mom told me at a young age that once you are not honest about something (anything), everything else you ever say will be questioned. I believe we have had to make some tough decisions for AME in the past few years; though unpopular, being honest about them was very important. While people may not have agreed, they knew these decisions were coming from an honest place.
Creativity: Creativity used to drive my former team crazy when I started with, “Have you thought about this…” in a laughable way. I believe in imagining the impossible and asking, “Why not?” We just finished a great conference as we “ReImagined Excellence,” where we saw the innovation and creativity of the team.
8. Name one of your weaknesses and describe how it is also a strength. // Name one of your strengths and describe how it is also a weakness.
My weakness – some would say it is that I am not always patient. I am often a “just do it” person; we don’t always need meetings upon meetings. I believe we can do things now.
My strength is openness. Sometimes, this makes one more vulnerable, which could be perceived as a weakness.
As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.