Published October 20, 2009
Volume 17, Number 10

TRIRIGA’s Kari Dimler: Promoting the Efforts of the Team

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

Kari Dimler’s welcome to San Francisco was the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Just two days into her relocation from Plano, Texas, Dimler was in her new home waiting for the moving van when she felt the trembling. Not yet familiar with the recommended protocols, Dimler says in retrospect that she and her husband “did everything wrong.”

Still, a few scary minutes on the third floor of a house in the city’s Sunset district hardly dampened her enthusiasm for the Bay Area. Dimler was just beginning an exciting assignment leading a software implementation for her employer, EDS. The client office was on the Embarcadero with a spectacular waterfront view. “I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity. My husband and I were thrilled to pieces to be in San Francisco, and after 20 years we are still glad to be here,” she says.

There have been several changes in her life since then, both personal and professional. The city couple morphed into a suburban family whose Danville home pulses with the energy of two teen-age sons. Dimler left EDS in 1997 for a product strategy/development position at Oracle, then PeopleSoft, ultimately rising to the post of Senior Director. For the past three and a half years, she has been Executive Vice President of Development at TRIRIGA, a leading provider of environmental sustainability, real estate, and facilities management solutions, which has a sizable office in Hacienda at 5994 W. Las Positas Blvd.

Even as her professional responsibilities have evolved, however, Dimler remains in her chosen field of software, and the natural leadership skills that surfaced as a young girl continue to propel her forward in her career.

Dimler’s interest in software was sparked while a student at the University of Northern Iowa. “I always enjoyed math, and I excelled at it, so I started as a math major in college,” she recalls. However, the two most common career options, accounting and teaching, left her uninspired. When she switched to computer information systems, with a math minor, she found a better fit—and a wide-open career path. 

After graduation, she took a position in systems engineering development for EDS. Assigned to the company’s headquarters in Plano, she worked on building a benefits administration system for a client in the healthcare field. When it was time to deploy the system, she was selected to head up the effort in the client’s San Francisco office. 

It was a plum assignment to have at such a young age. “I had spent a year and a half becoming an expert on the system, and it was really cool to bring that knowledge and help the customer take advantage of all the features of the software.”

Dimler realized she had a special skill set to be promoted into her first management position when she was just 24. She attributes that success to an early understanding of “what it means to be a leader,” much of it gleaned as the captain of the softball, basketball, and volleyball teams she played on growing up.  As she observes, “I’ve been an athlete since I can remember, and my years on the field taught me to lead by example.”

She also learned the importance of keeping the team working as a unit. One of her favorite maxims is “it takes a village.”  “The whole idea of a team is that it takes every member to win,” she reflects. “I remind my team that I can’t do this alone; I need each and every one of them to do what they do well. If there’s too much of ‘the buck stops here,’ you can lose sight of how everyone is working together--or isn’t.  When everyone is working together and doing their part, we will succeed as a team.”

Dimler’s responsibilities at TRIRIGA span a “fairly large ecosystem. Her role as vice president is to manage the company’s core technology, the primary platform for its products. “Our metadata toolset enables a rich development environment in which to build our applications. I am responsible for the design, development, and quality assurance for our platform, as well as the training, documentation, and customer support for our products and technology.”

While based in Hacienda, her organization also includes employees at TRIRIGA’s Las Vegas site, which she visits two to three times a month. The Pleasanton group of 27 includes some sales and marketing functions, but “most of what happens here is product and technology development and quality assurance.”

One of the interesting and somewhat unusual facets of her career is that she has remained in her chosen field of study in college, information systems. However, her progressive moves have allowed her to transcend many industries. “My entire career has been spent in enterprise software, delivering solutions, starting in health care and benefits administration, then, into supply chain and online merchandising, and then as a foundation member of a team building out a new Customer Relationship Management division in PeopleSoft.”

The opportunity at TRIRIGA brought her into the real estate and facilities space. Once again, she finds herself at the next frontier of enterprise software, Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS). “Managing a portfolio of buildings is the number-two or number-three expense for any large company,” Dimler explains. “Our software understands manages the end-to-end lifecycle of a building and enables operational efficiency as well as environmental responsibility. With a fully integrated solution as well as a robust core technology, we continue to be a leader in our space.”

Dimler describes her upbringing as “very traditional,” but she had many experiences other youngsters did not. Her family moved several times for her father’s job, which taught her how to be independent and make her own friends. As the second-youngest of five children, she also learned how to get along with others. Although her next-older sibling is her twin sister, born just a few minutes earlier, Dimler is sensitive to the age difference. The twins were almost polar opposites in their first career choices, but now both are in IT. The other siblings are all high achievers as well.

In her own home, things are less conventional. A few years ago, with her intensifying travel schedule, the family made a decision for her husband to stay home. “He ‘promoted’ himself,” Dimler says with a laugh. “We call him our cruise director.” Turning more serious, she notes, “he was ready to put his career on hold to take care of our home and our kids, and that allowed me to take on more responsibility without really stressing. I could travel next week with little notice. With that kind of schedule, we can’t be juggling who picks up the kids.”

Despite limited downtime, Dimler, ever the athlete, acquired a new passion last summer, RAGBRAI, the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. The 500-mile, seven-day event has been challenging crowds of bicycle fans for close to 40 years. This year the couple brought their sons to participate for two days, but Dimler herself was committed to the full ride. “You don’t find a lot of women who want to sign up for seven days on the saddle and camping on the ground each night, but I love it!” she remarks with her typical enthusiasm. 


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