The Mature Professional – 1981 – 2001

Settling in to New York

On moving to the City, where we lived on East 53rd Street and Second Avenue, Kincey resolved to push into information systems work, based on her work designing and supervising the Child Support System for the Department of Social Welfare in the Virgin Islands. Comer Coppie, her former boss in DC in the early 1970’s, was now working for NY City, and he recommended that she contact American Management Systems, which had a New York Office, although headquartered in Rosslyn, Virginia. She interviewed with two of the AMS founders (all seven of the founders were former “Whiz Kids” who worked for Robert S. McNamara in the Department of Defense during the Kennedy-Johnson era) and was hired — she said she was over-qualified and underpaid, but she made up for that in a few years.

Her first job was working on a project for Citibank (about three blocks from our apartment), designing a graphical user interface for Xerox computers used by the foreign exchange traders who worked for the bank.

After five years in New York that she found to be productive and socially interesting, Kincey was coming out of the subway one mild spring day and noticed this little tree just putting out leaves. She thought to herself, “This is as good as it gets. ”  We soon moved back to Washington, DC, where there are more green things and where Kincey worked out of AMS’s corporate headquarters for the next 15 years — see below.

Breast Cancer

In the spring of 1981, not long after she started at AMS, Kincey noticed a lump in her right breast, and it was soon diagnosed as breast cancer.  She was treated at Lennox Hill Hospital on New York’s east side — a center for major medical services from a dozen or more institutions. A mastectomy was performed, plus the removal of nine lymph nodes in her right arm — five of which were found to also be cancerous. The prognosis was not good — for the particular type of cancer that she had, and the extent of spread at the time of the operation they said five-year survival was around 20%.

Her oncologist was very experienced and he prescribed a 13-month series of chemo-therapy treatments. In discussions with cancer specialists in later years, they were surprised by both the duration of the chemo-therapy, and also by the dosage being administered in each infusion. Kincey went back to work nine days after the mastectomy, and continued to work virtually full-time through the following year of injections. Toward the end of treatment she was reacting violently to the chemo, experiencing projectile vomiting the last two treatments. But it worked for at least the next 27 years.

High Points for a Corporate Star

Kincey had a long and productive career at American Management Systems (AMS) from New York in the early 1980’s to AMS headquarters in northern Virginia (Rosslyn and Tysons Corners). From 1985 to her retirement in 2001, Kincey spent most of her assignments at client locations, supervising AMS on-site teams and coordinating them with other contractors and the primary clients . These client sites ranged from Los Angeles for an AARP membership program, to Toronto, to Atlanta for many years, to New York City. Typically she would spend four days a week on the client site and one day back in Virginia, dealing with AMS issues. She almost never complained about the grind of all the travel, but it was a factor in her retirement.

Deafness

In the mid-1990’s, in her early 50’s, Kincey began to notice that she was experiencing the same hearing problems that her father had suffered from at a fairly early age. Probably related to a basic genetic flaw in their auditory mechanism, both she and her dad had problems hearing high-pitched or complex sounds, such as conversations in crowds. By 1995 she was using two hearing aids full-time. 

Progress in hearing aid technology nearly matched the continued deterioration in her raw hearing ability. In general, she was able to manage the issues surrounding this handicap so that it was not an impediment to her work or social life, at least until the last few years. Perhaps the hardest adjustment at this phase in her life was the fact that poor hearing limited her abilities in bird watching, which was becoming an active pursuit, providing a recreational element to her increasing environmental concern.

Summary of Major AMS Projects

In a resume she wrote in 2004, these are the highlights of her AMS service that Kincey cited:

  • Kincey was co-founder of the AMS Toronto office and managed the staffing operation including the hiring of the key client manager and the setup of the management infrastructure. Over three years, revenue from the operation increased 150% to almost $20 million with a profit margin of 39%
  • She served as a one-year interim manager of the Strategic Alliances Unit of AMS’s Financial Services division, when she achieved $6.6 million in contributions (profits) — nearly 50% over target.
  • Kincey managed a series of related projects to deliver leading-edge technology infrastructure for Security First Network Bank, the first-in-the-world on-line bank. The engagement required developing an overall target architecture integrating over 20 separate systems and business projects involving virtually all employees of the bank as well as 8-10 third-party vendors. The design was completed in four months and first phase was successfully launched six months later resulting in positive ratings from “Gomez,” the internet financial services analysis firm.
  • For a leading Canadian Bank, Kincey led a multi-project initiative to implement Customer Relationship Management in the Retail Bank. The $10 million effort entailed the reorienting the retail bank marketing effort from a product to a client focus, the development of predictive models for campaigns and customer treatments, implementation of new systems and major changes to existing systems to enable actions and to track results. The first release was implemented within 15 months, and resulted in significant increases in retail revenues.
  • Kincey supervised a major re-engineering of personal consumer credit origination systems for Bank of Montreal. The effort involved the design and development of a new object-based interface to support customer service representatives in 1200 branches, re-structuring of the existing legacy mainframe system, and full integration with the bank’s existing branch platform.
  • As an independent consultant Kincey was Program Manager for the design of a new website for on-line brokerage services for a major Wall Street investment firm. The effort entailed combining the existing sites of the on-line brokerage and advisor clients and required coordinating the efforts of three internal units as well as two outside consulting firms. The requirements analysis and design were completed in four months and the first phase of the site was implemented three months later. [This was the Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter project that Kincey was working on on 9/11 — it’s typical that she wouldn’t bother to mention that the project was a success in spite of being at the center of a global calamity.]
  • And she even left out a major, successful project redesigning the financial management systems of McDonalds — the hamburger people in Oak Brook, IL.

Proceed to Chapter 5 – “Retirement” 2001–2018

2 Comments

Carolyn M McGee · October 21, 2018 at 8:23 pm

During her tenure at AMS, Kincey led many teams on successful complex projects. Her maturity and ability to manage and motivate a team whether large or small was key to her success. She was respected by her peers and especially by the more junior consultants whom she mentored and led by example. Kincey never lost sight of the fact that while the client was ‘paying’ the true objective of the project was to provide value to the client’s business and that goal had to drive the team. Kincey was unique in that while her own analytic skills were world class, her ability to assess a situation, develop a strategy and then lead a team to implement the strategy wer also world class.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, despite being an accomplished leader with an impressive track record, as a woman, the societal prejudices of senior managers against women were often obvious and at times insidiously below the surface. Kincey’s approach was to never let the prejudices of the era affect the quality of her work, which she believed would command respect as it did.

    Bruce · November 28, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    Even after we left the Virgin Islands, we remained close to our friends and the islands. In 1996 (while we were actually living on the SW Channel in SW Washington, DC, near Arena Stage) we organized our 30th wedding anniversary at Stanley’s Welcome Bay in Cane Garden Bay. Some pictures in the FLICKR album at “https://www.flickr.com/photos/bpotter1942/sets/72157702370023181” target=”

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