She calls herself a creative data nerd — a “square peg in a round hole” — and it’s a state that’s served her quite well in her 14 years at Time Warner Cable. Buchanan is the glue that connects the company’s various technology divisions with creative and measurable ways to communicate what they do, and why it matters: webinars, surveys, internal websites, and data, data, data. For the Rocky Mountain chapter of WICT, she’s an indefatigable and multifaceted volunteer, cheerfully going the extra mile to get things done. For cableFIRST, the industrywide effort to encourage more industry people to mentor local FIRST Robotics teams, she’s a life force. And for those reasons, she’s our pick for Tech Woman of the year in the Rising Star category.
MCN: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Keely Buchanan: The voice of Disney animated musicals! But, then it got to be more about getting out of my really small town in Alaska, getting scholarships to get into a good college, and then working really hard in college to get a good job.
MCN: First job in tech?
KB: Time Warner Cable, actually. I graduated from [the University of Denver] with a degree in digital media studies, which is when I realized I’ve always gravitated to the intersection of creative and technology. I was the only person out of all of my friends who got a job right out of school, in the field they’d studied. I remember thinking, “Cable? Boring,” but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
MCN. What’s the big thing in tech for your organization in 2016?
KB: Well, that merger with Charter is certainly top of mind. I’m really interested to see how both companies will share and grow together. Big picture, we’re doing some 1-Gig broadband enhancements next year in L.A., and we’re doing some really cool stuff with sustainability — we just committed to a 30% carbon intensity reduction by the end of ’16, which ties into the SCTE Energy2020 initiative. And I’m really excited about our “Connect a Million Minds” STEM and FIRST Robotics programs.
MCN. Where and when are you happiest?
KB: With my boys, for sure [Arlo, 5, and Nelson, 3]. Laughing, playing on the playground, lots of reading, and doing fabulously nerdy stuff like passing on my love of board games. And libraries.
MCN: Favorite geek-out tech term(s)?
KB: Data Scientist. Who knew that would be a thing? I want to be one. With the white lab coat! Well, maybe mine would be teal.
MCN: What tech term drives you batty?
KB: It drives me bonkers when people call something an acronym, when it’s technically an initialism. If it’s an abbreviation based on the first letter of each term, and you can pronounce it, it’s an acronym. “RAM,” acronym. “DVR,” not an acronym.
MCN: Most important qualities for women of tech to have?
KB: A sense of humor. Thick skin. Determination, for sure. Having a big picture view, while still being able to get your point across quickly. None of these are specific to women, by the way.
MCN: Favorite book of all time?
KB: Modoc, the True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived.
MCN: Best advice you ever received?
KB: It’s always better to fail than to never try; asking is free; always look at things from the other person’s point of view. And be your best self. I tell my boys that all the time: I don’t want you to be anybody else, I just want you to be your best self.
MCN: Favorite gadget/app?
KB: I’m all about the data, so for me it’s the wearables. Just by living, you can be collecting actionable data about yourself. Sleep habits and health and heart rate, all things that are non-invasive — for me, it seems like a huge value-add to your life.
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