Our IBM Champion Spotlight for May features Karen Kilroy, CEO of Kilroy Blockchain in Austin, TX. She is a life-long technologist who has invented several products including Casey, KilroyBlockchain PaaS, Riley, and Carnak. Karen believes that artificial intelligence doesn't have to be scary, and that technology can be proactively designed to be used for good. I sat down with Karen this week to talk about how she got started with IBM Cloud and Blockchain, what being a Champion means to her, and David Bowie! --Krista E. Summitt, IBM Cloud Community Leader
KES: Let’s start with your background. How did you get started working with IBM products?
KK: I began using IBM products as a child when I learned to type on my mother’s IBM Selectric typewriter.
KES: Same here! I remember my mother taking me to the office to show it to me. She was so excited!
Yes, that was a huge deal back then. So, then my first office job was as a Displaywriter specialist, IBM’s dedicated word processor/database machine. I went on to become an OS/2 Certified Engineer and Instructor, which I learned at work when we upgraded from word processors to the networked IBM PC. My OS/2 networking skills were in demand at very large organizations, and one asked me to learn Lotus Notes. This led me into the world of web workflow applications. In 2015 I learned about IBM’s efforts with Watson and then IBM Blockchain followed shortly after that.
KES: Okay so, talk to me about your path to becoming an IBM Champion
KK: I have been an IBM Champion for two years now. I was nominated and selected as a Champion as a result of my work with IBM Blockchain. Since then, I’ve added my work with IBM Watson and IBM Cloud.
KES: That’s fantastic. So how has being a Champion benefitted you, and what have you been able to give back?
I have attended exclusive product briefings, am able to follow the latest news on the private message boards for IBM Champions, and I have shared my own knowledge and offerings with other Champions in group presentations.
KES: If someone is considering joining the IBM Community, what would you tell them?
KK: IBM has some of the top technical people on earth. They are friendly, informative, and will help you bring your knowledge to the top of your game. Other IBM community members are usually very advanced in their knowledge and open to partnering. When you learn something here, you can be pretty certain it is correct.
KES: Okay Karen, now we’re going to shift to what I call the “Lightning Round” portion of the interview, where I’ll ask you some fun questions. Sound good?
KK: I’m ready (I think!)
KES: Book currently on your nightstand or eReader?
KK: Mastering Corda – Blockchain for Java Developers by Jamiel Sheikh
KES: Current favorite mobile app?
KK: That would be Riley, Kilroy Blockchain’s app that won the IBM Watson Build Challenge, North America, in 2017. Riley was designed to help people who are blind and visually impaired to hear a description of what is around them, using a smart phone and IBM Watson. If you try it out, please let me know what you think!
KES: Current favorite album or song?
KK: My favorite artist is always David Bowie, so The Man Who Sold the World album has come to the top. Savior Machine is apparently about some sort of AI – the reference to “President Joe” caught my attention and brought it to the top of my playlist.
KES: Thank you for talking with me Karen. I really enjoyed this conversation. One last thing, how can people connect with you in the community or online?
Yes, please reach out to me in the IBM Community, on LinkedIn, or my company website:
Karen’s IBM Community Profile: https://ibm.biz/Bdfy3u
Kilroy Blockchain Website: https://kilroyblockchain.com/