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  • Chang Robotics

40 Under 40 Honoree: Kate McAfoose

What has been your biggest accomplishment over the course of your career?

I recently led our team in the concept, design, and installation of our first deployment of a robotic system in a healthcare facility, right here in Jacksonville. The focus of the deployment is to pilot a robotic system that will alleviate time requirements on nursing and other staff members by automating the delivery of materials directly to a patient room.

We are in the third month of testing and so far it has been a huge success. As the daughter of a registered nurse, developing a system that will allow for nurses and healthcare providers to focus on providing care and lessening administrative burden is a huge accomplishment.

What was the biggest project or initiative you were involved in over the past three years?

I served as the Project Director for one of our largest projects to date, which included the largest deployment of mobile robotics and automation technology. We were able to continue work through the course of COVID due to our teams expertise in managing health and safety regulations and we were able to implement the project on time and provide the client with double its capacity.

What’s one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned over the course of your career?

Perfection is the enemy of good. Just as in my leadership style, or simply the difference in how my husband and I load the dishwasher, as a leader, it is impossible to execute everything yourself. As I’ve developed, I’ve had to learn to delegate and provide oversight instead of doing it myself.

That often means tasks will be done differently than how I would do them. I’ve had to learn to provide oversight and guidance without taking over and correcting. At the end of the day, if tasks (or loading the dishwasher) are completed on time and with sufficient detail, I have to be glad that momentum has not been lost due to my own perfectionism and likely bottlenecking processes.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the First Coast?

While a growing population can drive economic growth for the area, it has also presented a multitude of issues, such as a constrained infrastructure and the lack of affordable housing. Many cities are feeling the impacts of massive population relocations and Jacksonville is near the top of that list. Mass transit will become a huge focus as developments at the beaches and downtown will continue to bring more people to use those areas, which are constrained and unable to make large growth adjustments.

What about the First Coast are you proudest of?

Jacksonville has grown to be a thriving environment for technology and innovation over the last decade. From the various start-ups that have been founded, the innovation initiatives by JTA and other agencies, as well as robotic testing in the local hospitals, we are maturing into a tech hub that can rival other big cities for attracting talent.

What do you think the community needs to do more of to shape the next generation?

It depends on what you want the “shape” of the next generation to be. Personally, I’m surprised to see so many youths at ages less than 10 already with phones and social media accounts. As a community, there should be more affordable opportunities for after-school programs and activities that challenge a grow minds and spirits.

Thinking back on advice you have received, what had the most impact on you? 

The second person I had a job interview with stopped in the middle of the interview and told me to “Stop trying to tell me what I want to hear and tell me the truth.”

I didn’t get that job, but I have got an offer for every position I have decided to interview for since. If they don’t like the real you, there is no point in trying to make it work.

Favorite book

Atlas Shrugged

Favorite childhood book/movie/TV show:

What was your first job?

First job

At 7, my grandmother would pay me five cents for every dandelion I dug out of her yard, as long as I got the root with it! At 15, I started working at the local pharmacy as a pharmacist assistant.

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