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Kjersten Elias, Head of Engineering & Product at CoverHound

Kjersten has 14 years of experience in the software industry, with over 5 years of fintech/insurance focused engineering experience. In her time as Head of Engineering & Product at CoverHound, Kjersten has successfully launched CyberPolicy and Coverhound Business Insurance.

1. How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Growing up, my mom was always the main breadwinner in the family. She grew up on a remote farm, got scholarships to pay her way through college, started working as a file clerk and was gradually promoted up to the executive level. In school there were always programs to encourage women to do more but my mom’s example gave me the belief that I could achieve almost anything I put my mind to.

2. How has your previous employment experience aided your current role?
I became an engineer after working in other roles at tech companies. Like many engineers, I feel a pull toward creating a robust technical solution for every problem, which can lead to over-engineering. A strong focus on business goals helps me avoid this and encourage a balance between engineering and business needs.

In my current role at CoverHound, I try to bring an engineering mindset to business discussions. Since engineers spend so much of their time building things, they start every subjective discussion (e.g. the pros and cons of various changes) by making sure that everyone has the same understanding of facts, for example how the system works. There are a lot more subjective topics on the business side and planning discussions can break down if people are operating with different views of the basic facts. An engineering mindset can help you identify when that’s happening and get people on the same page.

3. What have the highlights and challenges been during your current role?
The most gratifying part of being a manager is giving people new opportunities and watching them learn and grow. I’ve had the privilege to work with amazing people at CoverHound who are doing a fantastic job and headed for even greater things. It’s inspiring to know them and have some small role in their story.

Learning to be a better manager is a constant challenge. You hope you’re putting people in the right positions and giving them enough support and feedback. When that’s not the case, it has a big impact on people’s lives and that’s rough.

To read the full article, head over to Women in Business Q&A.

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