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Get to know the people of Cloud City. In this regular (and sometimes irregular) series, we sit down with our designers, engineers and other team members to talk about development, consulting and life in general.

Today, we’re talking to Kendall Billman, who started at Cloud City as a personal assistant, but truly shines in their new role as an operations manager. Read on to learn about Kendall’s road from Ohio to the Bay Area and how they found their passion for operations management, scary movies and cross-stitch.

Kendall Billman

Operations Manager

Currently reading The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche, “Spare” by Prince Harry The Duke of Sussex, and “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn
Currently binging: Zombie-themed games (The Last of Us, Dying Light, Resident Evil) on Switch and PlayStation
Currently streaming: The Last of Us, Mayfair Witches, and Interview with the Vampire (again!)

Tell us about your path to being an Operations Manager. Was it something you were interested in for a long time?

I wanted to break into the tech industry, but I don’t have a tech background. Through my circle of friends, I was able to get a job at Cloud City as a personal assistant.

But then the co-founder I was assisting left Cloud City, and I was worried I would be out of a job. However, Kenzi, Cloud City’s president of development, said she could train me as an operations manager. That sounded great to me. I like to wear a bunch of different hats in a versatile role and learn as I work. That’s how I got my current position.

Oh wow, sounds like serendipity! Was your interest in tech what brought you to San Francisco?

Not originally. I moved to the area because I am from a very small farming community in middle-of-nowhere Ohio and wanted to move away for college. I chose to study in the Bay Area because I have family out here. There was an opportunity for me to get out of Ohio before I got sucked in.

My interest in tech grew after I moved here. I’m fascinated by technology, and after living in the Bay Area, it seemed like something I wanted to be a part of.

Sounds like an adventure! So you moved out here for education and then found a career?

Yes. I went to community college, and I freaking loved it. My experience there was amazing. I’m a huge advocate of community college if people are considering going back to school. That goes especially for resuming students, older people or other nontraditional students. Definitely community college is where it’s at. Try to complete most of your requirements there and then transfer to finish your bachelor’s.

That’s what I did. I went to Mills College to complete my undergrad and graduated with a degree in sociology.

Now that you’re in operations management, what parts of your role do you enjoy most? What’s important to you?

It’s not so much the role, it’s the company. I really appreciate how much I align with Cloud City’s values. I appreciate that we’re a women- and LGBTQ-led organization, which is such an anomaly in the tech field.

Part of the reason I attended Mills College was because the undergrad program is only open to women and non-binary people. I enjoy working and learning from other women. It’s really important to me in my career, too.

I also appreciate the priority Cloud City places on its team’s well-being. We’re committed to doing something good. We’re not just cogs in a capitalist wheel.

That sounds exciting, but busy! What do you do to unwind?

For the past year and a half I’ve been doing yoga every day. I also started running, and I’m trying to get back into shape.

Before the pandemic, I used to be so busy that I found myself eating out often. But like many people after everything shut down, I got very interested in learning how to make my own meals from scratch. Now when I do eat out, I often find myself asking, “Can I make this at home, and can I do it better?”

I also love playing video games.

I’ve been playing The Last of Us, and I’m currently watching the HBO series based on it. I’m so happy the writers have decided to stick close to the original narrative. I think the game was so popular because of how well the story was written. The creator even continued the story with a comic book series because of how popular it was. It’s no wonder that HBO picked it up. When I saw the previews, I thought, “Oh, this is going to be so creepy. I’m so excited!”

When I am trying to limit my screen time, I also like to work on cross-stitching and embroidery. I was taught needlework by my grandmother, and as an adult I got interested in it again. I was intrigued when I found that you can buy patterns on Etsy that are a little more modern. What I make now is very different from the “Home sweet home” patterns I grew up around.

What sort of patterns do you use now?

I really like new age-y kinds of patterns with snakes, moths, moons and moon phases, that sort of thing. I’m working on a project now that I’d love to give a friend once I’ve finished. The piece I’m working on looks like something you would see in a tattoo shop. It’s funny, it’s got this alternative aesthetic, but it’s also cross-stitch. I bet my grandma would be proud.

Kendall's road to their career as an Operations Manager was one sprinkled with serendipity — and experiences that would shape them as a person, and a member of the Cloud City team.

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