Kaye Harding says she’d been in tech for about a decade before she realised she actually worked in the field.

“I just saw what I was doing as solving business problems,” she explains. “I’ve always been motivated to try to find ways to do things better, to keep learning.”

Kaye has built an impressive technology career characterised by roles requiring problem solving, innovation and continuous improvement – skills she continues to draw on.

After six years working in other companies, including in senior roles with Xero and Microsoft, she rejoined Datacom earlier this year as Associate Director, Offshore and Growth Propositions.

In the newly created role she’s been scaling and overseeing Datacom’s app services offshoring capability in Asia for New Zealand and Australian customers. She’s also overseeing growth opportunities for Datacom in the app services space – in particular looking across the diverse and deep tech expertise within the different areas of the company, and helping bring those together for customers in ways that will best meet their business needs.

The role enables Datacom to better communicate what it can do for customers, she says, but also helps customers access its diverse capabilities more seamlessly.

“One of my favourite quotes is ‘a rising tide raises all boats’,” she says. “With this role that’s about bringing together the story of all our teams, and then sharing that with customers so as they navigate the outcomes they want, we'll work with them to figure out how. It’s about being a connector and bringing people together.”

Kaye Harding full body walking shot in front of Datacom Auckland office
In her role as Associate Director, Offshore and Growth Propositions, Kaye is focused on being a connector and bringing people together to create better outcomes.

Great people doing great work

Kaye’s slow realisation that she had a career in tech perhaps stems from its beginnings. She was waitressing during a planned gap year before university when a regular customer suggested she’d be a fit to work in their business, providing technicians to spatially map electricity industry assets using GIS. That capability was later brought in-house at energy company Vector, where she spent seven years working fulltime while also completing an MBA.

“While doing that, Vector started to give me different opportunities – in the strategy team, a commercialisation team, the renewables team. I almost had my own mini graduate programme as I moved around the business.”

Travel has been a passion for Kaye, who set and achieved the goal of visiting 40 countries by the age of 40 and has lived in the UK, where she worked for Vodafone – ultimately on the country’s largest business transformation project at the time. Following her return to New Zealand, she worked on the greenfields opportunity to help roll out ultrafast broadband for electricity distributor Northpower.

It was when she joined Australasia’s largest homegrown tech company, Datacom, in 2013 that she says it dawned on her she had a career in tech. She primarily worked as a business unit manager, but across a range of areas including enterprise development, cloud and DevOps.

“It was an opportunity to work with great people and deliver great work. There's never been a plan to keep climbing the ladder; it's always just been about wanting to do great stuff with great people.”

Opportunities to innovate

Part of doing great work has involved pursuing opportunities to innovate. While with Microsoft, Kaye was a finalist in the innovation category of the 2022 Women in ICT Awards, and recognised for management excellence as a category finalist in the 2021 Reseller Innovation Awards.

Following her first stint at Datacom she moved to Xero where she worked with its ecosystem of app developers – a community that grew from 500 to 1,000 partners during her tenure.

She talks about again bringing the ‘rising tide’ idea to life, for example, when her team supported partners following the advent of the pandemic by creating and delivering a programme of marketing bootcamps.

Profile shot of Kaye wearing orange dress
Throughout Kaye's career, taking an innovative approach has been fundamental to doing great work and bringing her 'rising tide' philosophy to life.

“It was recognising that Xero is really well known for beautiful accounting software, but also its marketing and the branding and looking at how we take some of the expertise from the people at Xero and give some of that knowledge to people who might not have it otherwise.”

It was a philosophy again employed during her time as SaaS Partner Lead at Microsoft, where she developed a speaker series where Microsoft’s SaaS ecosystem partners were invited to speak on their areas of expertise.

“We would ask them to talk about a specific angle that would be useful to other people in the room, and my goal was to always give people something that they could take back to work the next day and use.”

The chance to work with great people ultimately drew her back to Datacom earlier this year, she says, and to create a tangible difference through her work.

In particular, she sees offshoring as a way to support customers experiencing a tight talent market at home.

“It’s a way to access talent and capability that you can't necessarily get on the ground here, as well as the ability to scale up and scale down quickly – all the while knowing you’re still working with people who are part of Datacom.”

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