Congratulations to FBA’s Women in Fiber group’s Inaugural Woman in Fiber Spotlight, Kimberly Pitcher!
The Woman in Fiber Spotlight is a special initiative meant to highlight and recognize the different roles and careers for women in fiber, telecom, tech, and construction.
Nominated by Jason Dauby, Chief Technology Officer at Smithville Communications, Ellettsville, Indiana. Jason had this to say about Kimberly: “Kim is a role model, the only female in plant engineering where she brilliantly manages a team of men. She demonstrates calm efficiency, managing diverse issues as they arise, coordinating with the network engineering, construction, and I&R departments.” Kim frequently works additional hours to ensure projects are on-time, mentor engineering staff, and exhibits the motto she keeps on her whiteboard: “Make Smithville Better.”
This Spotlight shines on Kimberly, a Plant Engineering Manager at Smithville.
In her Own Words
How do you feel your work helps to demonstrate or advance different roles for women in the fiber and tech space?
I think that by being successful in my current role, it will alleviate potential concerns about women in engineering and leadership roles in the fiber and tech space. I am fortunate that my entrance into the fiber and technology space has been on the heels of trailblazers, like Darby McCarty.
What have you accomplished at Smithville that you are proud of?
That the Fiber To The Home overbuild designs, of the remaining copper fed areas of Ellettsville, were designed in house by Plant Engineering staff. Smithville is headquartered in Ellettsville and we were excited to take on this challenge when the opportunity arose. The designs provided fiber connectivity to over 1500 homes in our back yard. The effort involved four staff members and took around two years to complete. We were able to incorporate the design effort with all of our other responsibilities such as the Jasper GigaCity project, Enterprise circuit builds, costings, mapping and general maintenance and operation responsibilities. I’m very proud of the Outside Plant Engineers and their commitment to Smithville.
The Smithville Quality Assurance Program was restarted in 2017 under the Plant Engineering Department. We brought on two Quality Assurance Inspectors to assure that our outside plant was being built to our Fiber to the Home Standard Operating Procedures. We developed processes, collaborated with stakeholders and created documents and forms for the program. We have developed working relationships with our Outside Plant staff and contractors regarding the construction of our plant. As the number of passing inspections leveled off, we determined that the majority of non-compliant inspections were attributed to new construction copper drops. We created a Copper Drop Standard Operating Procedure because Smithville did not have a reference authority except for the RUS Bulletins. We are certain that we will see a significant improvement on passing inspections with this SOP in place.
What is the career path that has led you to this moment?
My career path started as a Transportation Engineer with the Ohio Department of Transportation. I continued working in the Transportation Engineering Industry designing roads. One of the responsibilities with designing roads is utility coordination. This coordination requires collaboration and communication with all types of utilities. I enjoyed working with the various utility representatives to find the best solution for INDOT and the utility. After being in the transportation industry for 20 years, I decided it was time to look for other opportunities that would provide new learning opportunities. A utility company seemed to be a good candidate since utilities are required to adhere to the same property rights as road construction. I was blessed to land at Smithville as an Outside Plant Engineer. I accepted the Plant Engineering Manager position to help Smithville grow and transition into one Smithville.
What are some key ways that you give back to your community?
I participate in community events sponsored by Smithville. We have multiple opportunities each year and I have participated in our Christmas Angel Tree program, our Back to School drives and the Ivy Tech O’Bannon Institute of Day of Service. I have also packed rice and beans packets with Generosity Feeds to help fight child hunger. The volunteer programs are a great way to meet and work with other people to positively impact and help people in the community. I have also donated and purchased professional clothes at My Sister’s Closet which is a local charity that provides free work attire and Success Institute programming to low-income and at-risk women pursuing employment.