Reprinted with permission from the College of Saint Benedict. View the full original article, which was published on March 14, 2022.
Cami Longstreet Zimmer’s path from the College of Saint Benedict to becoming a software executive hasn’t been a straight one, but her education gave her the road map to make it happen.
Zimmer, who graduated from Saint Ben’s in 1993, is chief business officer for Glympse, a mobile software company that predates similar tracking applications used with Uber and Lyft. With Glympse, clients like Charter Communications, Papa John’s and TruGreen can send the real-time estimated time of arrival and notifications to their customers. And those customers can, in turn, track the arrival of their goods and services, as well as communicate with the companies delivering to them.
“Looking back at the last 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 pursued her degree in political science at CSB and Saint John’s University. “I started out in public policy, switched to being an entrepreneur and now am in the software industry. To me, that’s what makes the journey so great. I think it’s important to acknowledge, 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’s situations change and so does the job market. You can’t plan for jobs that don’t yet exist, nor can you predict what life will be like. One thing you can do, though, is get smarter every day. The more skilled you are, the better your chances at thriving in whatever new roles or challenges come along.”
During her last year of college, she served at the White House under the George H.W. Bush administration in the 1,000 Points of Light office. After graduation, she worked in the Minnesota House of Representatives as legislative assistant to the Speaker and House Majority Leader. She later became executive director for transportation policy with the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and then used that as a springboard to become 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.
“In my opinion, life is all about taking risks, being passionate, working hard and surrounding yourself with a network of good people,” she said. “I’m a software executive today because of all these things. Having mentors really helped me switch careers; not an easy thing to do when you have three small children. While it was tough at the time, I take pride in that. I took risks, put myself out there and surrounded myself with entrepreneurs to learn as much as I could.”
Zimmer started her own consulting business in 2007 and has been doing much of her work remotely ever since. As a business consultant, she served as head of marketing and communications for a wireless communications company, as VP of global marketing for software firms in Seattle and Silicon Valley. In addition, she worked with a Minneapolis-based firm in the autonomous vehicle industry.
Cami wouldn’t have been that versatile if she hadn’t been pushed out of her comfort zone at Saint Ben’s. And she’s eager to see similar evolution for her two sons in college, 21 and 19, and a 16-year-old daughter who is just contemplating 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 am doing professionally today. In my opinion, you don’t always have to know what you’re going to be doing all the time. That’s always kind of my main message to people just starting out. In fact, I think the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ is a very fixed-minded way of thinking. It suggests that you will choose a single career, train for it, and then do it the rest of your life – implying that you have to choose a single career. That isn’t always true. You can do many things.”
Today, Zimmer travels to visit clients almost every other week. Even when she’s home in Rosemount, she might start her day talking with people in London and end conversing with clients in Asia.
“One of the things that’s great about a liberal arts education is that you learn a wide range of ideas, each of which will better help you discover your personal interests and strengths,” Cami said. “Being a woman executive who has a global presence, it’s been helpful in many ways, especially being seen as an authentic, problem-solving leader.”
As for what’s next after Glympse, she’s not about to stop blazing a trail.
“I have goals, and I can’t wait to dive into the next one,” she said.