Today is Ada Lovelace Day, and my post this year is about someone I’ve had the privilege to work with: Kelly McCarthy. Kelly is a project manager and an information architect. She co-owns Easy! Designs, a boutique web consultancy based in Chattanooga, Tennessee (which also produces Retreats 4 Geeks, an alternative web technology training series focusing on hands-on learning for web professionals). She also co-founded indie publisher Easy Readers, which just released its first title.
I first met Kelly on a steamboat where the Web Education (Rocks) Summit was taking place in 2009—where Web Standards Project (WaSP) members working on the InterAct Web Standards Curriculum were participating. Despite not recalling any personal conversations vividly, stamped into my memory is a very, very long night of a debate on HTML5, all of us surrounded by emptying beer bottles on the deck, picking apart a complicated topic. I distinctly remember Kelly’s voice being amongst the strongest in the debate.
Since then, I’ve been fortunate to work with Kelly on a couple of WaSP projects—most recently, on the design, development and planning leading up to the launch of Web Standards Sherpa.
Some people might think that a project manager’s role isn’t “technical”. Having had the opportunity to lead a team of project managers when I was a director of a web design studio, I’ve come to realise what differentiates a great project manager (from a good one) is not only the ability to communicate requirements and constraints between the clients and members of the team—great project managers have a solid grasp of technical side of building for the web. On top of being skilled at managing teams, Kelly also steps smoothly into an information architect’s shoes, balancing the creative and the pragmatic while getting things done according to budget and schedule. Kelly’s role is possibly the most difficult on any project, on any team.
It’s such a rare pleasure to work with someone like Kelly who knows how to create just the right environment for everyone on her team to be able to do their job and do it well. She’s amazing and fun to work with!
I know she’s too busy getting things done to talk much about what she does and achieves—she barely gets time to tweet or blog—that’s why Kelly’s my Ada Lovelace Day heroine this year.