Nancy King, Senior Director of Technology, Loyalty Marketing and Promotions at Target, is all about helping women in the engineering field. "Part of my passion is to use what I have learned to support the journey for the next person," she says. Her #1 career tip? "Avoid the idea that you have to be perfect to deserve your seat at the table."
Fairygodboss of the Week: Nancy King
Senior Director of Technology, Loyalty Marketing and Promotions - Target
FGB: Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
NK: I loved science and math growing up and figuring out how things worked. My interests led me to pursue a degree in Industrial Engineering, and after college I went into IT as a software developer/analyst. In my early days I focused mostly on large ERP implementations for clients, and as my career grew I moved closer to software architecture and development.
I jumped into retail technology when I came to Target 11 years ago, and I haven’t looked back. The pace of change and variety of challenges is limitless, and the people I work with are fantastic.
While at Target I’ve had the chance to work on Healthcare, Pharmacy, Legal, Supply Chain and Merchandising areas of the business. I am now leading the loyalty marketing and promotions engineering teams for Target. (If you don’t have Target’s Cartwheel app yet, check it out!) I love using logic and creativity to solve complicated puzzles and building teams that have fun together.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
NK: Being an engineering leader, I am in a field that is underrepresented by women. Part of my passion is to use what I have learned to support the journey for the next person.
I sponsor Target Women In Science and Technology (TWIST) to help engage and advance women in STEM careers. Through an active network of volunteers, we focus both internally on connecting and supporting women in their career growth as well as externally in the community by inspiring girls and young women to consider careers in a STEM-related field.
We recently hosted 180 local high school girls and their teachers at Target HQ for an all-day event to show them the breadth of possibilities a technical related education can provide. It was an amazing day! At the end of it I spoke with several girls who were excited to look at options they hadn’t considered for themselves earlier, which made me incredibly proud of the TWIST team and Target’s focus on supporting diversity.
FGB: What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
NK: When I had my first son I was pretty lousy at balancing time across work and home. I was used to being able to work as much as I wanted to and when I wanted to. And I found that babies have a way of changing that pretty quickly.
I had to build new routines at home, define new expectations at work, and most importantly be ok letting some things go. Just because we can do it all doesn’t mean we always should, and that was a hard lesson for me to learn. Now, after many years of practice, I feel like I have great work/life integration that works for me, my family and my team.
FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
NK: Avoid the idea that you have to be perfect to deserve your seat at the table. Early in my career I felt the need to be the best to make it easy to see why I had earned that special assignment or received a big promotion. That gets exhausting after a while! And it really limits you in terms of what kind of challenges you’re comfortable taking on, because you’ve set your bar for success so high.
Building a successful career means being willing to explore a wide variety of opportunities and challenges, not all of which are going to be a raving success. The learning you take from them is what is most valuable, and what you do with that learning on your next challenge is how you propel your career forward.
FGB: Why do you love where you work?
NK: I love working at Target, especially in the Technology group, because every day I have the chance to work with an amazing team to solve really complex problems that can have a huge impact on Target and the future of retail.
Most importantly, I love that Target is a strong supporter of inclusivity — on our store and HQ teams and in the communities in which we do business. We talk openly, we support each other, and we build work families that have fun together while we make amazing things happen.
Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? Why?
NK: My Fairygodboss is a collection of the women I work with at various organizations who are dedicated and committed to encouraging more young women to pursue STEM careers. To pick just one would be impossible. I am inspired on a daily basis by their energy and creativity to impact the next generation of women technologists.
FGB: What do you do when you're not working?
NK: I spend most of my time outside of work chasing my two sons, who are 6 and 4. We play a lot of basketball and baseball and are always adding to the expansive LEGO collection that has taken over our home.
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?
NK: I would pick one of the founding fathers of the Constitution: perhaps Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin. They had such amazing foresight to establish a framework early on that supported concepts and challenges they couldn’t even conceive, but that they knew would come. How they balanced between current and future needs would be amazing to hear first person from their perspective.
FGB: What is your karaoke song?
NK: Sweet Caroline.
FGB: What is your favorite movie?
NK: The Usual Suspects.
FGB: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
NK: I would bring a giant book of puzzles and riddles, something to keep my mind active while I enjoyed the sunshine.
FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
NK: Coats, I have closets full of them! But I figure you can’t have too many when you live in Minnesota.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women. So each week, we celebrate a woman who makes a difference in other women’s careers. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate and thank her by nominating her here.