Innovating a Career in IT: Kelly Noack’s Job Search Success Story

What would it be like to create your own job instead of looking for one? On this bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job, Kelly Noack shares how she expanded the job she was doing for one arm of a larger company. Kelly’s success in IT security and compliance gave her confidence that she could expand her role to include the family of businesses within the company as a whole. Kelly also shares how mentoring and research helped her propose the new position to her leadership. Learn more about Kelly’s career history below in this installment of our Success Stories series.



Find Your Dream Job, Bonus Episode 75:

Innovating a Career in IT: Kelly Noack’s Job Search Success Story

Airdate: April 1, 2024

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

One of the best ways to get good at job hunting is to talk to people who do it well.

That’s why, once a month, I interview a Mac’s List reader who found a job they love.

Our guest today is Kelly Noack.

She’s the IT governance risk compliance manager at Good Food Holdings.

It’s a family of West Coast grocers that include Bristol Farms, Lazy Acres Natural Market, Metropolitan Market, New Seasons Market, and New Leaf Community Markets.

Kelly Noack believes in creating her own path.

In a story you can find on the Mac’s List website, Kelly shares how she has built a career in information technology through non-traditional education and by advocating for the value of experience.

Why do you love your job, Kelly?

Kelly Noack:

I love my job because I have kind of made it my own within New Seasons Market and now Good Food Holdings. I am creating programs for IT compliance. We’re having to perform annual audits, and I get to support different teams in IT and across the company to understand and develop procedures to do well in those audits.

I love being able to support different groups, as well as really make sure the employee experience is positive, and I just kind of get to make up the work as I go, which I love, and I’m learning a lot.

Mac Prichard:

Well, let’s talk about your job search. How did you get your job at Good Food Holdings? Because you were at one of the member companies, New Seasons Market. How did you make that move?

Kelly Noack:

Yeah, so I started at New Seasons about five years ago and developed into the role of overseeing IT security and compliance, and that included security training and different regulatory compliance that the company needed to meet. There was a need for the rest of the family of grocery companies to follow these regulatory controls, and really it all came together in a great way that leadership across the company saw the need, and I was really advocating for myself to create this role.

I’m now able to support all the IT teams across all the banners and I love different opportunities to interact with the business as well.

Mac Prichard:

Let’s talk a little more about that; often, someone might be inside an organization and they are happy in their job, but they find themselves doing the same thing for the third or fourth, or fifth time, and they’re ready to move on, and there may not be a path for how to do that and, as you talk, Kelly, it sounds like you saw that path and were able to make the case to your supervisors for a new opportunity.

How did you do that, and what kinds of challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?

Kelly Noack:

I think I’d be remiss to not acknowledge that there actually was some support from leadership even before my role came into shape, my current role. So, there was one leader who was a consultant and actually said to me, “One day, you will be doing this.”

So that kind of gave me the supercharge to realize that I could. Then, within actually trying to shape my role, and promote the need for it, I did a lot of research. I utilized LinkedIn a ton, as well as Google Job Search and Indeed, just to try to understand what was out there in the market in my niche I wanted to go to with IT audit.

It’s pretty specific, and there’s a lot of accreditations that come with it, and typically, it’s something that a company would pay an outside consultant to do, so a big part of, I wouldn’t even say convincing, but finding agreement with the leadership, was having this role be internal meant that we could develop more trust and more process and continuity, and I really think that, based on my track record at New Seasons, it positioned me well.

Another part of this was making sure I understood what the role compensation would be. That was a really important thing for me. I didn’t want to be under-compensated, especially in the Portland market, and considering I could look elsewhere for a virtual job in this career path. So that was a big part of advocating for myself, was making sure I was clear with, “Here’s some comparable jobs.” I even helped to write the job description.

Obviously, it was finalized by our wonderful HR teams internally, but that was the really empowering part was just making sure I took ownership of not only the job description and the compensation but also really the justification for why the internal role was important instead of external.

Mac Prichard:

What was the most persuasive, did you find in making the case for hiring internally instead of turning to an outside vendor? It sounds like that was a concern or, at least, an issue that you had to address. How did you handle that, Kelly?

Kelly Noack:

I think, like I said, my track record at New Seasons was really good support for enhancing my role. I also think that within the five years that I’ve been at New Seasons, we have worked with outside consultants or seen turnover, and it can be really challenging to develop trust between that role and the teams that they’re working with. Especially if, and usually with this audit GRC role, we’re trying to push teams to follow certain procedures that are compliant. Which means changed management and a lot of adoption of new procedures. So starting over with a consultant really didn’t make sense, and I do think that the overall Good Food Holdings company understood that and I’m so grateful, and, again, there was a really important leader who advocated for me from the beginning and that made a difference for sure.

Mac Prichard:

You talked about the research that you did, understanding how other companies handle this role, how they define it, and what the responsibilities are. You did the market research about compensation, and you addressed the advantages or disadvantages of hiring internally versus working with an outside consultant. Were there other steps that you had to take in order to make the case to move from this position in one of the five companies to the holding company itself?

Kelly Noack:

I think a lot of it also came down to my own confidence in myself. I wanted to make sure that I had a path no matter what, and a lot of that just came down to recognizing that there were other jobs in the market I could actually apply for. It really came down to a little bit of believing in myself as well; that was an important part, but in general, I do feel very fortunate that there was kind of a clear plan at the leadership level to develop this role and then advocating for myself ensured that I was able to move into that role and step up.

Mac Prichard:

Well, we’ve talked about the research you did and the support you had internally for this move. In your article for us on the website, you also talk about the importance of networking, not only with this position but throughout your career, as you’ve done different job searches. Tell us more about the part networking played in this particular opportunity and at other stages in your career.

Kelly Noack:

Yeah, I actually cold emailed someone on LinkedIn who was in the Portland area who had the job title that I wanted, in a little bit of a different component of the IT market, but it certainly felt that we were close enough, and they were really generous to actually take a couple of phone calls, we did a couple of Zoom meetings together. I was able to ask them questions about their path and what kind of training they’d done, and recommendations they have, and from there, I also continued to research different job titles within the area.

Prior to that, in my job at SalesForce, I was able to participate in some of the local tech meetups, and I consider myself a bit of an introverted extrovert, so I am sociable, but it was really nice to go with coworkers and meet some new people and hear some talks. I’m also a big proponent of connecting on LinkedIn, so making sure that I’m reaching out to my community there, to congratulate them on job changes or keep track of what they are doing, because I found that folks would sometimes end up at companies that I was interested in, and this was prior to my time at New Seasons and now Good Food Holdings.

I just think those kinds of social networks can be really helpful to make sure that you’re staying connected, and I know that I love to be a referral for people, so I think that reciprocal boosting of each other is really strong in the Portland market, so I’ve appreciated that.

Mac Prichard:

Making a cold networking request can be hard for many of us, especially if we haven’t done it in the past. Do you have tips for how to do that? When you think back to that person that you approached and asked for advice that led to several conversations.

Kelly Noack:

Yeah, I’d say try to be gentle and kind, and don’t be too aggressive. I actually was prepared that they would ignore me because I know, sometimes, LinkedIn can offer some spam, but I think the key was just to open with questions through the message or email first, and then, if they seem receptive, go ahead and ask them if they’d be willing to either correspond through email or schedule a Zoom meeting.

I do think that just that humility to recognize that people might not want to talk about their career is important too, or they’re busy, but I think that in my experience, my approach was really, “Hey, do you have any time? Are you willing to talk?” And starting there as opposed to sharing the questions right away because I did have a lot of questions for this person, which they were really generous to have some time.

I do think that they had a positive experience, too, I like to think. It’s encouraging to be able to provide support to other people in the industry.

Mac Prichard:

Another point that you made in your website article for us was your approach to job boards when you look for work, and you mentioned a moment ago you were using the internet to research how other companies were approaching the position that you wanted.

Tell me more, Kelly, about how you used job boards. What did you do exactly, and what kind of difference it’s made, not only in this job search but in previous ones throughout your career?

Kelly Noack:

Yeah, so I have, certainly, with Mac’s List and LinkedIn and Indeed, those are probably the three key resources, but what I find really helpful is to be more flexible with location. So, since the pandemic, I think there are a lot more hybrid or remote jobs that have opened up, so I will expand my search beyond the Portland or even West Coast area. I also think about the way different companies name titles because a manager at one company might be a director at another company, so I try not to limit myself to that title component. It’s really more about the focus area.

I have a knack, I guess, for figuring out the way different functions are described at different companies. For example, with my title, IT GRC or Governance Risk Compliance, might also be IT Audit or IT Compliance. So, I organized myself around having different ways to look things up, and while I was preparing to work on my promotion recently, I did do a lot of research, and I saved it to my personal Google Drive just for reference, including job descriptions and applications, so that I could really review those and make sure that I understood, “Okay, these are the skills that I have.” Or “These are the skills that I’m developing.”

That really helped me to expand; if I had been applying to external jobs, I would be confident to apply to different ones, even if the title was higher than my current pay grade or required more experience than I had. So, I’d encourage, it really comes down to synonyms or different ways to say things. Make sure you’re constantly looking at all the different job boards, and Google can be helpful because sometimes it combines things, but I find sometimes that the job listings get a little stale or old, so it’s best just to go directly to the employer’s website as well and that’s really helpful.

Mac Prichard:

You’ve had a very successful career in Information Technology and you don’t have a college degree. Tell us how you’ve been able to have the success you’ve achieved in your IT career, and what advice would you have for listeners who might not have a bachelors?

Kelly Noack:

Yeah, I want to say again that my career in IT  really started because of networking. I was invited to attend a recruiting event for Sales Force, and it was the first time that I had considered that I could work in that industry, and it was a great experience for me. I think for me, I never knew what I wanted to do as a younger person. I’m in my late 30s now, and I think it’s all really coming together, but I would say that I struggled a bit to not have a college degree for a while. It was a barrier; sometimes, it’s a required field in applications, but I can encourage your listeners to remember that work experience is just as important, and the desire and the ability to jump into new opportunities and try new things can really help.

In my early IT career, I wasn’t afraid to jump into something new, especially as we were developing more of the operations side for some of the jobs that I’ve had. I never tried to overwork, but I definitely have a pretty good work ethic, and I think that that demonstrates, too, that I am a strong employee. I’d say, as well, any opportunities to try and take some on-the-job trainings or certifications are great as well. Within the IT compliance area, there are tons of certifications, and I’m kind of building my own little roadmap of what I want to do in the next three years.

I’d just encourage your listeners not to let the college degree requirement be a barrier, and if you’re really interested in a company or a job, I would hope an employer would accept you even without it, and if they don’t, then maybe it’s good to look at different opportunities.

Mac Prichard:

Well, finally, Kelly, what’s your number one job-hunting tip?

Kelly Noack:

Oh, I’d say keep your LinkedIn current and believe in yourself, and this is a third thing: I would say keep networking and keep in touch with folks whose careers you’re admiring or interested in.

Mac Prichard:

Terrific; well, thank you for sharing your story, Kelly. To learn more about Kelly Noack’s job search, visit

And check out the Mac’s List website for dozens of other success stories.

On the second Friday of every month, we add a new interview with a Mac’s List reader who has found a dream job.  Go to

In the meantime, thank you for listening to today’s bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List.

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer and editor is Matt Fiorillo. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.