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Q&A with the Women Behind Persist


From left to right: MaryBeth Pecha, Kathryn Ekloff, and Amber Hanson


MaryBeth Pecha (aka MB)

How would you describe yourself?

 

I grew up in a tightly controlled house where I was home-schooled until high-school. I self-selected an equally conservative university and didn’t really start to build the courage to become myself and make my own decisions until after college. Through college, my life decisions were not anchored in critical thinking, but were instead a result of adherence to tribal expectations. Hint: this is not a healthy way to live.

Choosing to step out and live my own life (although scary and painful at first) has been a critically defining arch in my life. Although I don’t have all the answers, I am constantly pushing myself out of my comfort zone as I firmly believe this is the only way to grow as a person.

When was a time you had to persist?

When I started at Amazon I had a major case of ‘imposter complex.’ Surrounded by incredibly smart people who had spent years in either finance or retail and had graduated from the top business schools, I had a tough time believing in myself initially. Self-doubt coupled with a demanding job and a very steep learning curve pushed me into bouts of depression for several months. I was on the verge of quitting multiple times (my husband once walked into our apartment to me in tears on the floor after work, truth!). But something inside me would not give up despite the pain and uncertainty. Looking back over two years later, I’m so thankful I didn’t listen to that voice that told me I wasn’t good enough. These past two years have given me the chance to learn and create with incredibly talented, driven people who have taught me habits of excellence. I’ve learned growth doesn’t come from a place of comfort. Growth comes when we push ourselves to the point of discomfort. Growth comes when we persist anyways.

What is your favorite hobby or leisure activity?

I love going for a long run, date nights in the city with my wonderful, supportive husband Ryan, snuggling my Scottie (Larry), watching exceptional TV/Movies (current favs include Silicon Valley, Get Out, La La Land, and Big Little Lies), reading, and travel. I love the fresh perspective that follows a trip. It can be anything from a quick weekend jaunt to San Francisco to a two week trek in Europe. Travel always sets the reset button for me and leaves me with inspiration, courage, and clarity after experiencing the beauty and diversity that live in a different perspective.

Kathryn Ekloff

How would you describe yourself?

I’m a creative soul with a real passion for business and numbers. While I’ve worked in corporate finance for most of my career, I’ve always had a diverse set of interests including, but not limited to, photography, interior design, and music. On the flip side, I love building excel models and writing SQL. I guess that makes me a little strange, but it’s just who I am. I’m also a mom to my miniature poodle, Zuzu, and a wife to my amazing husband, Joey.   

When was a time you had to persist?

I grew up in the Southwest but always dreamt of living in Seattle, so in 2011 my husband and I packed up our bags and moved to Seattle with our crazy pup Zuzu. The catchwe didn’t have jobs. It was a huge leap of faith, and most people thought we were crazy, but we persisted and it paid off. What I learned is that you can’t let fear stop you from doing something that you truly believe is the right choice. I’m very risk adverse, so the decision to move without job security was truly terrifying, but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t try.

What is your favorite hobby or leisure activity?

In my free time you can find me scouring Seattle’s thrift and antique stores. I love finding hidden treasures and restoring them to their former glory. My husband and I are almost always in the midst of some exciting upcycling project. It keeps me busy and allows me to flex my creative muscle. 


Amber Hanson

How would you describe yourself?

I am still in the prologue of my life’s autobiography. I recently discovered an appreciation for going outside of my location comfort zone (two moves in three years, Seattle and London), and no longer require a 10-year plan for life.  I have 8+ years of Corporate Finance experience at two great companies (Amazon and General Mills), but I am still debating what I will be when I grow up. I love going home to my amazing husband and fur-babies and I look forward to writing the next chapter.

When was a time you had to persist?

I naively entered Corporate America. I came from a farming family and was the first in my family to graduate from college. During the first year of my career, while I was intensely learning how to navigate the complexities of a large company gig, my father was diagnosed with brain cancer. With my extreme competitive nature, I was not willing to let my work slip in comparison to my peers, but at the same time I was emotionally broken. Growing up, I was called ‘daddy’s girl’ by rival sports teams, and it was 100% true. I persisted ‘balancing’ both my new job and dealing with the ugly realities of cancer. The battle ultimately ended a mere year into the fight. I was left with realizing I made mistakes in choosing the wrong priorities. However, I am grateful that this experience taught me lessons on how to persist in life: 1) Life can be short - do what you want TODAY, 2) Be aware and supportive of the multiple priorities people are trying to balance, 3) Don’t wait too long to go home.

What is your favorite hobby or leisure activity?

My free time is filled with snuggles from my fur-babies (my cat Fuzzy and my French bulldog Clyde) and traveling with my awesome husband, friends and family. We recently relocated to London, and we are excited to have Europe adventures on the weekend to-do list. I also enjoy hosting fiestas, enjoying new restaurants, joining too many wine clubs and happy hours, and attempting to snowboard.