Stax Alumni Series - Kate Willard

Stax Alumni Series - Kate Willard

Kate (Filippova) Willard

Stax Research Associate, 2013-2015

What was your background prior to becoming a Research Associate at Stax?
I had just finished up my stint with AmeriCorps after finishing a master’s degree and intended on pursuing a PhD in a history-related field. I liked doing research, so I looked for a job where I could put that skill to use while I thought about programs. A Research Associate (RA) role was a perfect opportunity to put my research skills to good use while figuring out what I wanted to do in the future.

What was your most memorable experience at Stax?
Although I talked to a lot of characters about their industries, my favorite memories and best times were the projects that involved field research. I worked for one of Stax’s retail clients that had us travel to different cities several times a year to compare their products and prices to the competition. Time in the field was really intense and you had to work extremely closely with your team. I still keep in touch with the friends I made on those projects and even though it was a LOT of work, it was a great time.

What is your current position?
I am now a Software Engineer at Go Ahead Tours, part of EF Education First. We offer travelers guided tours, e.g., safaris, food & wine tours, multi-country expeditions, and group travel, to over 175 countries and all seven continents. I really did a 180 from history; I started here as a Web Content specialist just after Stax and worked my way up.

How did your time at Stax help prepare you for your current role?
Working at Stax fed my desire to learn new things; something that I do as a programmer every day. I started dabbling with programming while I was still at Stax and funny enough, one of the topics I did research about is something I’m involved with on a daily basis at my current job. My team is building a flights app which interfaces with a GDS computer reservation system. My last Stax project was on that exact topic and how those systems integrate with all parts of the travel industry. The context that I learned at Stax has helped me directly in my current role. Stax offered a great opportunity to develop myself and my skills while I explored what the future held for me.

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