Since graduating from the WMU Haworth College of Business, Carey Pachla has ventured from her roots in a startup to building one of the fastest growing, independently owned IT staffing companies in the nation, with hundreds of team members servicing organizations all over the world.
As president and CEO of FastTek Global—a women-owned enterprise that provides IT and engineering resource and staffing solutions, executive search expertise, contract-to-hire programs, consulting services, managed services and offshore sourcing options—Pachla is taking the business world by storm. She is passionate about advancing technology, building stellar teams, increasing the number of women in tech fields and entrepreneurship, and giving back to the community.
In addition to growing her company, Pachla is a wife, mother and an active member of the Michigan Council of Women in Technology, an organization committed to introducing girls to tech careers, as well providing scholarships to young women and promoting career development for women in tech.
In this interview, Pachla talks about her time as a Business Bronco, her career success and why giving back to the community is at the forefront of business.
How did you become involved with FastTek Global?
I credit timing and connections. The founder of Fast Switch, our former company, in conjunction with a major automotive company, began a pilot program to increase the intellectual capital in specific IT functions while reducing overall cost for the automotive company. When it was clear this pilot would receive the green light to move forward, the automotive company recommended that I lead the charge. After careful consideration and alignment on a customer centric-approach, I joined in the fall of 2003.
The automotive company recommended me because of my trustworthy track record and my open and honest approach. I jumped at the chance to start something from scratch. These were my first “blank whiteboard” days, when we drafted a plan to be different than the other IT consulting companies. We had a clear vision of our future. This wasn’t my first time joining in the infancy of an organization. I took great pride in growing something due to simple hard work, an honest approach and a little creativity along the way.
Within 15 years we grew the overall company to nearly $100 million in sales. At the beginning of 2020, I entered into an asset purchase of my division, which is now a separate company, FastTek Global. FastTek is now a 100% women-owned company.
Can you describe your role with the company? What are some of its key initiatives?
My role is to ensure FastTek offers a diverse, inclusive and dynamic work atmosphere for all 300+ team members, along with providing topnotch and innovative service offerings to our clients and creating a strong vision for the future. Our purpose is “Our People, Our Planet and Cool Technology.” It’s quite simple really—we put our people and planet first, then we have a ton of fun because our team members are creating cool technology which allows our clients to dream big!
How does being a fully independent, women-owned enterprise set FastTek Global apart from similar companies in your industry?
We need more women entrepreneurs. Research I have read states that only 38% of business owners are women, yet there are more women living in the U.S. than men. This fact alone sets us apart. I believe the number one reason FastTek Global stands apart is our passion. We have a passion to do business the right way and treat people fairly. Just last week, we were recognized as one of the 2020 Top Workplaces by the Detroit Free Press for the seventh year in a row. This year we ranked No. 52 out of 150 selected in the midsize company category. Each year, it’s a proud moment for us.
In what ways do you support women in tech? Why do you think it’s important to do so?
We support women in every way possible and this is important because women are grossly underrepresented in tech fields. Specifically, I have been ultra-involved in a nonprofit called Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT). I became involved in its infancy 18 years ago and have proudly been among countless amazing women leading the charge to make Michigan the No. 1 state for women in technology.
During this journey, I volunteered on a number of committees, was a board member for years and in 2017 served as the board president. It was an honor to do so—MCWT provides K-12 programming to get girls excited about technology through summer camps around the state. It also offers programs in partnership with the Girl Scouts, web design contests, afterschool programs and more. The council provides about 20 scholarships a year for young women in Michigan pursuing a computer science degree, then internship opportunities and so on. To date, MCWT has given over $1 million in scholarships. For anyone interested in an internship, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will connect you with the right people.
What I have learned through hundreds of hours of volunteering is to never underestimate the opportunity to meet with, learn from and collaborate with Michigan’s best and brightest women in tech.
What have been some of your most rewarding experiences as a business leader?
It has been extremely rewarding to initiate diverse, tech talent growth programs and to be part of my team’s learning and growth. We just announced in Crain’s the promotions of two team members. Our expansion throughout the U.S. and India should also be on the list. Putting all the above aside, it is the day-to-day team members’ wins, such as someone finishing their degree, getting married, having a baby or earning a promotion.
What has been the most challenging?
There certainly have been many, along with some battle wounds that I like to say are learning moments. I believe a boss can make or break someone’s work experience. The key leadership qualities I hope I possess are trusting my team, offering growth opportunities and pushing my team to be uncomfortable sometimes to achieve even greater self-pride and team success.
How did the Haworth College of Business help prepare you for your career path?
I believe there were two major factors from the college of business that helped prepare me in my journey:
- The professors had real-world business experience and shared case studies and stories.
- The projects involved all aspects of business from inception of an idea to research and critical thinking to practical financial reviews and more. All of this was critical to my education, along with generating proposals, giving presentations and speaking in front of groups.
The fundamentals taught to me at the Haworth College of Business are exactly what I apply in the business world, every day.
Is there anything you would like to add about your career or college experiences?
Stand tall and be proud you are a Bronco! I am a Bronco for life, and I think my husband is the biggest Bronco football and Bronco hockey fan there is. It is thrilling to see the personal successes of my college friends and sorority sisters (Chi Omega) along the way. This is because WMU does set you up for success!