Although he went to college to study biochemical engineering, Kenneth Miles found it to be a bit boring and repetitive, so he searched for a new major. He took several psychology classes and did some computer programing and found great enjoyment in the challenge of the latter.
“I realized I didn’t think as critically and analytically as I thought I did in regard to programing,” he recounts. Before he knew it, he was programing in languages like C++ and Java, and learning more about servers. “It really just hooked me. Technology grabbed me and held on to me for the long-term.”
Miles started his career fresh out of college working for the state of Oklahoma as an application support specialist. “I knew after college that I didn’t want to program every day, but [being] given the opportunity to work for the state was probably the best thing for me,” he says, “because it afforded me the chance to work with people who had been in the business for a long time, who taught me about networking, about system administration and the real-life application of the seven layers of the technology stack.”
While there, Miles wrote reports for the fifth-largest agency in the state and managed servers and infrastructure. He also got formal training on project management, business analysis, and disaster recovery. “I was really exposed to a lot of the industry,” he shares. “I stayed there about eight years and I felt it was time for me to do something new, so I left and took a job with Healthcare Partner Investments.”
But Miles quickly realized the management style wasn’t to his liking and found himself looking for new opportunities. A couple of jobs followed, including a five-year-stint at MidFirst Bank, where he appreciated the supportive manager he worked under. “I got great management feedback and was put in a position to really effect change for the organization,” he explains. One of his favorite moments was doing a fundraiser for Positive Tomorrows, a school for children who have troubled home lives, and through two campaigns, he helped raise $20,000.
In 2022, Miles found another new opportunity, taking on the position as vice president and director of information technology for First Fidelity Bank. He mimics the same management and leadership style from his former employer. “I have a much smaller team but much more responsibility,” he notes.
Miles’s responsibilities include meetings about infrastructure, making assignments to projects, managing his team, setting security policies, and working to build the bank’s national disaster recovery environment.
“One of the first things I did when I got here was take an assessment of the environment, and I looked at how we managed user-right distribution, and it wasn’t very good,” he shares. “I brought this to the attention of the organization, and they were apt to change for the better. The organization has allowed me to spend a considerable amount of money in an attempt to fix these issues. These are problems we needed to get a handle on now because the organization is growing.”
Along those lines, Miles has rewritten many of First Fidelity Bank’s policies to protect the company and provide more accountability to his employees. “Your policies have to prepare for the most unexpected granular things,” he says. “A lot of the policies here weren’t where I felt they needed to be, so the organization has granted me a lot of leeway to update the policies and put good technical policies in place.”
John Peterson, customer success manager of enterprise at cybersecurity firm Arctic Wolf Networks, praises Miles’s practices in this realm. “Through Arctic Wolf’s partnership with Kenneth, we have seen the extensive experience and dedication he has to helping ensure that First Fidelity Bank and their customers are secure in an ever-expanding digital age,” Peterson says. “Arctic Wolf is proud to be a partner in that critical area of cyber protection.”
A big initiative of his is the Ivanti Project, which touches just about every single business unit.
“It has multiple components and solves a lot of problems,” Miles notes. “We also performed our very first disaster recovery test, and it was something that had never done before. I pushed for that in the organization to show them that if something bad was to happen, we’re going to be okay because we have a plan in place.”
Adhering to a leadership philosophy that resolves around honesty, communication, and strong relationships, Miles has become a trusted and well-respected boss to his team. He encourages his team to work together and talk about anything on their mind during his one-on-one sessions.
“My management style is a very open and honest one,” he says. “No matter how bad something is, I tell my team to not try to hide it, but tell me first, so I can manage the situation and speak to the board or the owner from a position of knowledge. I really want to build relationships with my teams beyond just talking about work.”
Miles doesn’t come from a wealthy background and got to his position thanks to hard work and support from his mentors and those around him. It’s his goal to help others achieve their career ambitions and become leaders themselves.