Women of PDX: A Sit Down with Kelly Froncek, Lead QA Analyst
Kelly Froncek, Lead Quality Assurance Analyst at PDX, started a career in pharmacy to help her pay for school to earn a degree in Radio/TV/Film. After 9/11, her career path changed and she found her passion in healthcare technology. Kelly shares her experience leading to PDX and her thoughts on girls and women in STEM.
How did you end up at PDX? (ex. education, jobs before PDX?)
KF: “In 1992, I started working at an independent pharmacy in McKinney, Texas in order to put myself through college. I took the 10–year plan, so it was many years of work, then school. I took a year off after graduating from community college and then enrolled at the University of North Texas. While I was at UNT, I continued to work at the independent pharmacy.
When the pharmacy was eventually sold to Brookshires, I transferred to their Plano store and was introduced to their pharmacy management system, PDX Classic. I worked multiple jobs and held multiple positions, but eventually found myself at Tom Thumb’s pharmacy, which also used PDX Classic.
I earned a B.A. in Radio/TV/Film from UNT and had every intention of working in that field. I had some contacts out in California from working on a few commercials (Kohl’s, Philips 66) and having been the Script Supervisor on an American Film Institute student film. I packed up my stuff, put it in storage, and was ready to move to California. Then 9/11 happened and film production came to a standstill. So, I stayed in Texas and kept working at Tom Thumb. At this point I had moved to Fort Worth and was commuting 4 days a week to Dallas. In 2003, I saw an opening for a QA position at PDX and jumped at the chance to apply. I got a call to come in for an interview, was hired, and I have been here ever since.”
When did you first show an interest in STEM?
KF: “I have always liked to problem solve. After working at multiple pharmacies and gaining familiarity and experience with the PDX system, I realized I enjoyed the technical side of the process. I enjoy trouble-shooting the system so users can have a better experience and be able to use the system to its full potential. ”
What do you enjoy most about working at PDX?
KF: “I enjoy the people. I have been fortunate to meet so many new people from all different backgrounds. Getting to know my co-workers, our vendor partners, and their families, and how they got here brings another dimension to what we are doing at PDX. On my current team (Explore Dx), it feels more like family. We work very closely together, and as a result, are more productive.”
Do you think diversity and inclusion are important in the workplace? Why?
KF: “Diversity and inclusion are absolutely crucial to the workplace! Everyone contributes in a different way; thus we are a more well-rounded and a stronger company because of it. People from a variety of backgrounds, life experiences, and social locations allow us to imagine a diverse group of end-users and the patients to which our systems deliver healthcare and therefore, deliver more comprehensive systems.”
What is your opinion on the low number of women compared to men in computer science careers? Do you think there will be a change in the future?
KF: “Fortunately, I think it is already changing. That number will increase as more women become aware of the different job opportunities available to them and as STEM programs in schools and universities continue to grow. This, in turn, should impact the way girls and young women see themselves in vocations such as technology and computer science. Bringing equality to the workplace is good for business and for the strength of our products and services.”
What is your hope for the future of women in STEM?
KF: “My hope is women’s contributions in STEM will be encouraged and acknowledged and that women will have the same opportunities in STEM as men do. I hope women’s access to careers in technology and earning power is governed by a commitment to equality and one day, there will be just as many women in STEM as there are men.”
Any advice to the young girls that want to pursue a career in STEM?
KF: “Go for it! You can do anything you set your mind to. Think about what changes you want to make in the world or in the world of STEM. Find a passion you enjoy then study it, work at it, and don’t ever give up.”