Jake KailNetApp

    Jake Kail

    Houston, TX
    Field Project Manager
    NetApp

    Briefly describe your daily job duties.
    As a Field Project Manager for NetApp Professional Services, I’m responsible for managing the delivery of service implementation projects for our Commercial, Enterprise, and Global customers in the world of hybrid cloud data services. I develop plans around service delivery, build technical teams, and take a consultative approach to align with customer expectations and ultimately get the job done.

    I also served as a Field Artillery Officer in the United States Army from 2015-2019 before joining NetApp.

    As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
    Translating my thoughts into coherent sentences can be challenging. I have a stutter that often prevents me from getting past an initial letter of a word. I often try to restart my thought, or simply avoid the word all together and find a suitable substitute. As someone who gets in front of customers on a daily basis, getting the right point across is paramount so this causes me anxiety on a daily basis.

    When I have my bad days, I sometimes avoid talking when not completely necessary and this has caused me to shy away from reiterating key points that get glossed over.

    Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process? If so, how did you do it and how do you currently disclose your stuttering to unsuspecting co-workers, clients and or customers?
    I did not. I was wrongly conditioned at a young age to try my best to hide my stutter. As I’ve grown in the past few years, I’ve realized the value of disclosure and how much of a weight it can lift. I’ve been very lucky to have an employer that looks past my stutter and sees my value as an asset to the team.

    Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
    Stuttering has allowed me to have a high level of emotional intelligence. Building relationships, speaking honestly, and being personable are all skills I have thanks to my stutter. I often try to highlight who I am behind my speech impediment and that vulnerability speaks volumes when building and leading teams.

    What is your proudest moment at your current company?
    My proudest moment at NetApp was actually in the first three months of working. I was fresh out of the military and I was learning how to work in a very different environment. During our introductory presentations I was very relaxed and had no trouble delivering the message. A week later, I gave my second presentation and could barely get a word out. Many co-workers did not know about my stutter and their concern for my well-being made it worse. A few weeks later I had an executive briefing and I prepared for days. This presentation went very well, and I was praised by leaders across the organization for my preparedness and resilience.

    What are your long-term career aspirations?
    I want to be an expert in my craft and an honest leader of people. Leading people has been a lifelong passion of mine and I want to continue developing that skill set. Regardless of the industry, people deserve leaders that listen and support their goals. I want to be that leader.

    What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
    Don’t let fear overcome your potential. It took me 4 years of being in the workforce to realize that people generally don’t care as much as you think they do. If you are honest about your stutter, explain that it does not impact your value and ability to achieve results, people will respect you and work with you to help you grow. If they do not, they are not worth your time, plain and simple. Surround yourself with supportive people and seek out employers that embody that mindset.