Spotlight on Women
Emilie Hersh, Chief Executive Officer, InterKnowlogy
Photo by Jen & Bec
What is the business of InterKnowlogy?
We are a custom software application company founded in 2005. Microsoft is a partner with InterKnowlogy.
What is your background?
I got my MBA at the University of San Diego and worked for dining services to pay my tuition. I began my career as a consultant for Price Waterhouse Coopers and worked there for two years. I was single then and traveled a lot. It was a wonderful experience. Then I was a technology consultant for a startup for five years before being recruited by InterKnowlogy. I became CEO in February 2010.
How did your experience as a consultant benefit you as an InterKnowlogist?
Consulting has always been a good fit and has benefited me because you have to know the client’s business, and to do that you have to do a lot of listening.
Have you had to overcome any obstacles along the way?
No, just challenges that have all been business issues. Ours is a major professional services company in terms of what we do. We have grown and expanded over the past 10 years.
To what do you credit the growth?
We are very specific about hiring. You can’t train people to be good humans. The culture is very important. We have to make good hiring decisions. We actually give candidates homework before they are hired. We do a lot of team-building with our staff. We recently went on a ski trip, and we are all going to build a home for Habitat for Humanity soon. Employees have a choice as to whether or not to participate, but no one has ever refused.
How do you grow your business?
I do a lot of networking. I sit on five boards, including the USD School of Business and Cal State San Marcos. We are working on six to eight projects at a time. Our turnover is low, but we keep adding new positions.
Do you have any women engineers?
We have one. There aren’t many women in the field of engineering. Credibility is most important for a man or woman. I am often the only woman in the room. There are not many women at my level in this industry. Microsoft has a camp for 12- to 17-year-old girls called DigiGirlz, and they are always encouraging girls to go into computer science.
What challenges do you face in managing your life?
Work–life integration and trying to balance both. Some days it’s work first, and some days it’s kids. My husband is a big part of my success. He is definitely a partner.
What do you do outside work?
I am a big spa fan. I play golf, some for business. My family travels together.
What about mentoring?
I participate in the MBA Mentoring Program at USD. I am always willing to lend support when I feel I can help. I believe in giving back. I just joined the board of ACT/The APP Association, which is a PAC out of Washington, D.C. Online safety for kids is our focus this year. Connecting the dots—people, the opportunities, conversations, and pulling it all together and making things happen.
What don’t we know about you?
I used to coach high school football. I started by doing stats and then became a coach. My coaches are still my best friends and mentors.
Where do you go from here?
I want to own a winery, including growing the grapes. I like to learn, and this would be a challenge I think I would like. It depends on where we go in the company.