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Meet Scott Hermes, bringing humanity to software

Design that reads "Kin+ Scott Hermes" with a headshot of Scott

Our name is intentional. “Kin” refers to family and “Carta” refers to maps. When together, we’re Kin + Carta — a group of connected makers, builders and creators, who come together everyday to help our clients build experiences and plot a clear path forward in today’s digital world. Carta is what we do, Kin is who we are.

Kin+ is a series that uncovers the experiences, stories and lives of the people who make our collective “Kin” exceptional.

Do you ever meet someone and simply feel like you learned something new just by speaking with them? To us at Kin + Carta, this is Scott Hermes. He’s been with the firm since 2014, growing across the roles of Technical Principal, Architect, Director of Solution Delivery, Office of the CTO and now Senior Director and Azure Platform Architect. Beyond all of this, we like to consider him the voice of Kin + Carta, as he’s been the podcast host for three of the firm’s podcast seasons. 

We took some time to learn more about the person behind the voice, and were blown away by Scott’s history before and within Kin + Carta. He’s eager to learn, connect and continue to grow. And, we’re honored to share some of Scott’s story with you. His breadth of background and experiences all point to the humanity behind every voice and behind every piece of software.

Design that reads "Kin+ Scott Hermes" with a headshot of Scott

It was in college at the University of Chicago where I studied math, yet quickly found out that I was not a good enough mathematician to be a mathematician. I didn't love math the way mathematicians do — I was just good at it. At the time, the University didn’t have a computer science major, but I took a few computer classes and really enjoyed them. I’d been working on Apple IIe computers and hacking video games with my friends during high school but it was great to learn about algorithms and advanced concepts.

I started my first job with computers in 1985, and I've been in the field ever since. Back in the day, we were on floppy disks and had a teletype machine dialed into a mainframe right next to us. It’s incredible to look back on — during my career, I've worked on just about everything from operating systems to business applications with small businesses and big enterprises.

Design that reads "Kin+ Scott Hermes" with a headshot of Scott
Scott after winning first prize at a Blockchain Hackathon

While continuing to work in the field of tech, I also attended DePaul’s Theatre school. Becoming an actor was something I’d always wanted to do. I earned a Master of Fine Arts in Acting to go along with my Bachelor of Science in Math. I worked as an actor, also doing improv, for roughly ten years — sometimes getting paid and sometimes not. I worked in mainly theater productions which I really enjoyed a lot. However, I do have one movie in my filmography. A friend of mine was cast as a victim in a slasher film but she was uncomfortable doing the scene with a stranger. So, I stepped in and took on the role of her co-victim. I got to say the word ‘chump’, and then had my head cut off. It was an 80’s straight-to-video slasher movie, and I’ll forever be on the video box cover.

Entertaining, learning from, connecting to, and educating people is something I deeply enjoy. There’s a power in connection, and I find that it happens right when you meet someone else. Suddenly, you can work to understand what they want, and you can begin collaborating. This is what I most enjoy about performing. I’ve loved the ways that my formal training as an actor has embedded itself into my technical career. 

Software is built by people, for people. And if you don't try to understand them, you're going to fail. My MFA has helped me bring that to my job — the idea of trying to understand people and how to reach and better communicate with them.

I’ve loved the ways that my formal training as an actor has embedded itself into my technical career.

A lot of what you need to do in the software field is to communicate. You need to do it clearly and you need to think about what you're going to say. You also need to understand what people are trying to say to you, and to be empathetic. My training as an actor helps me tap into that.
Scott speaking at FWD with a big image of a squirrel behind him
Scott speaking at a client innovation conference hosted by Kin + Carta

And as an actor, I have vocal training which I often utilize when representing my company at conferences, talks, and in-person meetings. At Kin + Carta, this has come to life in the work I’ve done on our podcast, Look Both Ways, which has been endlessly fascinating to me. 

Look Both Ways has been created to look back to past experiments that people have run, maybe successfully or unsuccessfully. Those, then, give us a filter we use to look at problems of the present. We try to find interesting ideas that impact people's lives and build a human connection.

One topic we covered was Epcot at Disney — did you know that it was actually designed as a living city of the future by Walt Disney? The idea was that people would live there, and Disney would use it as a laboratory for urban planning to improve people's lives. It didn't pan out, but we used this as a springboard to interview people about current urban planning and how technology is being used to guide that.

Cover of Episode 2 of Look Both Ways
New episode announcement from Look Both Ways

The podcast certainly presents challenges — the producer and I take on the task of recording potentially dry material in a fun, unique way. One of my contributions is going through the script and seeing where I can add a dumb joke or two. 

Being involved in Look Both Ways has been so valuable to me. I’ve always placed importance on having a wide variety of interests, often developing curiosity about different things. It's a muscle that I like to always keep exercising. Look Both Ways forces me to learn about new ideas and keeps my curiosity alive. 

It also keeps me thinking and talking about fresh, new topics. I find that this is beneficial when on calls with our teams, our clients, and even our partners. I do a lot of this as Kin + Carta’s Azure Platform Architect. In this role, I am responsible for internally and externally promoting and growing our ability to deliver solutions on Azure, as part of our partnership with Microsoft. Working in a role that collaborates with our partners so directly has been great. I’ve never done this type of work before. I’ve primarily been on the consulting side of our business in roles such as Architect and Director of Engineering, building an internal community around engineering as a practice. When this opportunity opened, it was a chance for me to dive deeper into Azure, which excited me.

Working with Microsoft has been a whole new sphere, and I’ve loved it. I’m learning how to sell to two different audiences — sometimes we'll go to Microsoft for an opportunity, and other times, Microsoft will come to us. In the market, we’re a different kind of partner and can fill gaps for the technology channels out there. Our approach is to figure out what people's problems are and then determine the right way to solve them. If that’s through Azure, I’ll recommend an offering with it included. If it’s through another platform, I’ll find the next best tool.

Scott's selfie with Shawn Devries
Scott with Shawn Devries, the Managing Director of our business-to-business vertical

My role is about finding where someone is suffering and determining how we can alleviate that suffering. And, to figure out whether we are the right people to stop the pain. I’ve found a lot of joy in this and notice myself leaning back on my MFA and technical career training to drive success. I’m always striving to create human connections to open others up, build trust, and have a conversation about what's really going on.

Want to work alongside a collective group of individuals, like Scott, who value learning something new every day?

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