Kelley Skelton graduated from IU Kelley School of Business with degrees in Business Management and Human Resource Management. But by the time of graduation, she had also taught herself to code in HTML, CSS, C#, learned the Adobe Creative Design suite, and worked as a webmaster. “I like to stay busy and keep my mind sharp!” Skelton explained simply. “My now-husband was in IT, and I saw what he was doing, and knew I could do it too.” She described how the reactions of her clients and colleagues kept her motivated to continue learning. “I was able to help by doing what others called ‘magic’ but I knew was just tech. My skills allowed me to be efficient and help others achieve efficiency, too. This wasn’t something everyone knew how to do—so it was helping others that kept me motivated.”
Today, Skelton leverages her skills in both business and IT in an IT Strategic Services role with the Business Solutions Team at Anthem, where she focuses on helping align Anthem’s strategic initiatives with Federal and State regulations. This is a role where her talent for process improvement and efficiency shines. She also serves as Chief of Staff for the Anthem ‘Women’s Inspired Network’. This is one of Anthem’s Associate Resource Groups which amplify and support diversity in the company’s culture. “I am so gratified to be able to leverage my broad experience and passion for analysis to continue to help, not only my colleagues, but the individuals Anthem serves,” Skelton said.
Kelley was attracted to Women & Hi Tech because she saw so many of her values manifested and shared by the organization’s leadership. “I saw a volunteer opportunity on LinkedIn to help with an event at IUPUI. The president at that time was Angela Freeman and she spoke to the volunteers before the event. She has an incredible and inspiring presence and listening to her made me want to be part of any organization that lifts people up like she does.”
Since joining Women & Hi Tech, Kelley has been gratified to continue volunteering and inspiring young women to pursue their STEM interests as careers. She shared, “I received a nearly full ride scholarship to the School of Science at Purdue University, and even though I had always loved science, I didn’t have anyone encouraging me to take that scholarship—so I didn’t”. Her own childhood experiences moving from the Dayton Metropolitan area to a rural town in Texas gives her perspective on how different the needs of young women in different areas can be. But what unites them all, she says, is the need for positive role models. “I would love to see bigger outreach, with mentoring programs, not just for school-age girls but even young professionals,” Kelley said. “Women & Hi Tech has an incredible partnership with Pass the Torch for Women that enables many mentoring opportunities. But I would like to see more structured, STEM-specific mentoring among the membership. Not just tools and resources but programming centered on connections with peers to give advice.”
Kelley thinks this peer support is especially important when it comes to women being okay with failure. “I have been living the test-experiment-fail-try again mantra since before people were really aware of it, but even I am still learning and growing beyond a learned need for perfection,” she shared. “I think most, if not all, women grow up being taught they should be afraid of failing. But I have realized along the way that failure is a part of success. How can you get better if you don’t see failure and grow beyond it?”
Kelley shared that she does believe these ingrained biases are decreasing with each generation. “I have a high schooler and a third grader, both daughters, and I encourage them every day to look around at possibilities. They can do anything they put their mind to—even if they can’t do it right away.”
She went on to say, “Women & Hi Tech is a perfect vehicle for effecting positive change. I have been an active volunteer since the day I signed up and I have gotten to meet so many impressive people and do really great things. It’s critical for women in STEM to lift each other up through success as well as failure, and share tools for our next endeavors,” she concluded. “That is what Women & Hi Tech is all about.”