Kristine Hofstra ’91 has a high-power career in the world of IT and international consulting. Her current position is a far cry from her days studying theater at Antioch, but, she says, her Antioch experience prepared her for more than just a job. It prepared her for a great life—including participating as an athlete in the 2014 Gay Games!
The Independent spoke with Kristine this month about her work, her loves and her passion for Antioch.
Tell us about your position and your current work.
I oversee the IT systems for International Risk Consultants in Columbus, OH and the International Credit Brokers Alliance, which is a global organization. We specialize in International Trade Finance and Political Risk Insurance.
You're very passionate about your work. Why does it mean so much to you?
I think the primary reason is the people I work with. I am surrounded by creative, critical thinkers who are fun to be with and who challenge me with new ideas every day. One of our founding partners is an Antiochan from the D.C. law school when it was owned by the college. I like to say that our corporate culture is a little Antioch-like (in a good way). I am also very fortunate to be involved with an International group with whom I interact and learn from constantly. I have had the opportunity to travel to places I would never dreamed of seeing if it hadn’t been for my career.
What (career-wise) are you most proud of?
Over the past 14 years at IRC I have built our systems to grow with our company (From 18 users in one location to 75 worldwide). Today, my CRM system is being used by the ICBA. My day-to-day activities put me in contact with people from different cultures, who do not speak English as a first language. That has taught me how to communicate clearly and consciously, which is especially difficult when you are communicating technical details to non-technical people.
What did you study when you were at Antioch? How did your time at Antioch influence your work?
I was a theater major! You wouldn’t think that what I do now has anything to do with theater, but it has all the drama, anxiety and organized chaos you might find backstage at any Broadway production! I think that a lot of the real-world skills that I learned at Antioch really prepared me for this type of job. I employ a lot of creative problem solving skills and cross-cultural sensitivity that I do not think I would have obtained with a traditional education.
Any professors that were particularly influential to either your work or your life?
Amy Trompetter was especially influential in my life at Antioch. She gave me the opportunity to travel to Japan, which was a life changing experience for me. And Chuck Taylor taught me how to learn math. Anyone who learned math from Chuck will understand what I mean by that.
What would you say to current Antioch students who are interested in a similar profession?
Learn to be flexible and patient. Be proactive and make sure that you take credit for your accomplishments. Sometimes in the IT world, you are only noticed when there are issues. When your phone is not ringing, you are doing your job well.
What about your personal life? Kids? Relationships? Travel?
This June, I will celebrate 21 years of being in a relationship with my partner, Wiley. When marriage equality comes to Ohio, we are going to have a huge-ass party. Wiley owns two restaurants so we don’t really get much time to travel together, but we enjoy our time at home with our animals. We love to entertain and cook with our friends.
What does the future hold for you?
I intend to stay with my company (International risk Consultants) until retirement. I hope to be able to continue traveling and working with the ICBA, and also grow my share ownership in IRC. I have recently gotten into bicycle racing and I love it. I hope to continue racing for as long as I can.
Tell us about your next project.
In my work life, I am implementing a three-year plan to move all of our systems to the cloud. In my personal life, I will be participating in four cycling events in the Gay Games, which is an international “Olympic” type of event (although they are not legally allowed to use the word “Olympics”). The games will be held in Cleveland this August. I have been in training for the past 18 months.