From government to software company, CSB graduate reinvents her career – CSB/SJU
Cami Longstreet Zimmer’s journey from College of Saint Benedict to software executive hasn’t been easy, but his education has given him the roadmap to get there.
Zimmer, a 1993 Saint Ben’s graduate, is chief business officer of Glympse, a mobile software company that predates similar tracking apps used with Uber and Lyft. With Glympse, customers like Charter Communications, Papa John’s and TruGreen can send real-time estimated time of arrival and notifications to their customers. And these customers can, in turn, track the arrival of their goods and services, as well as communicate with the companies that deliver them.
“Looking back over the past 30 years of my life, I’ve strategically gone through a few career changes that have always led me to something unique,” said Zimmer, who went on to study political science at CSB and at Saint John’s University. “I started in public policy, became an entrepreneur and am now in the software industry. For me, that’s what makes the journey so great. I think it’s important to recognize that, because young adults today feel so much pressure to figure out what they want to do or who they want to be. People change over time. Life situations change and so does the job market. You can’t not planning jobs that don’t yet exist, or predicting what life will be like. One thing you can do, however, is to get smarter every day. The more skilled you are, the better your chances of thriving in all new roles or challenges that arise.
During her senior year of college, she served in the White House under the George H. W. Bush administration in the Office of 1,000 Bright Spots. After graduating, she worked in the Minnesota House of Representatives as the Speaker’s Legislative Assistant and House Majority Leader. She went on to become executive director of transportation policy at the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, then used that as a stepping stone to becoming senior director of customer relations for the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
By then, she and her husband, Bob Zimmer (SJU ’94) had three young children.
“For me, life is about taking risks, being passionate, working hard and surrounding yourself with a network of good people,” she said. “I’m a software manager today because of all these things. Having mentors really helped me change careers; not an easy thing to do when you have three young children. Even though it was difficult at the time, I’m proud of it. I took risks, got started and surrounded myself with entrepreneurs to learn as much as possible.
Zimmer started his own consulting business in 2007 and has been doing much of his work remotely ever since. As a business consultant, she was responsible for marketing and communications for a wireless communications company, as vice president of global marketing for software companies in Seattle and Silicon Valley. Additionally, she worked with a Minneapolis-based company in the autonomous vehicle industry.
Cami wouldn’t have been so versatile if she hadn’t been pushed out of her comfort zone at Saint Ben’s. And she can’t wait to see a similar development for her two college sons, 21 and 19, and a 16-year-old daughter who is just considering where she will pursue her own education.
“I feel like there’s so much pressure for young adults to figure out what they want to be when they grow up,” she said. “What I wanted to be when I grew up – a lobbyist – is definitely not what I do professionally today. In my opinion, you haven’t always to have to know what you are going to do all the time. It’s always kind of my main message to people who are just starting out. In fact, I think the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ is a very fixed way of thinking. This suggests that you will choose one career, train for it, and then do it for the rest of your life – implying that you should choose one career. This is not always true. You can do lots of things.
Today, Zimmer visits customers almost every two weeks. Even when she’s at home in Rosemount, she can start her day talking with people in London and end with clients in Asia.
“One of the benefits of a liberal arts education is that you learn a wide range of ideas, each of which will help you better discover your interests and strengths,” Cami said. “Being a female executive who has a global presence has been helpful in so many ways, especially being seen as an authentic, problem-solving leader.”
As for what’s next after Glympse, it’s not about to stop charting a course.
“I have goals and I can’t wait to dive into the next one,” she said.