Inspirational profiles of women in
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Lead(H)er Profile - Maayan Arbili, Senior Director of Customer Success at Aqua Security banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Maayan Arbili, Senior Director of Customer Success at Aqua Security

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the tech industry. In this Q&A, we are featuring Maayan Arbili, Senior Director of Customer Success at Aqua Security


Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?   

I grew up in Jerusalem, Israel and moved to Boston in 2014. (Right in time for the worst winter on record – the weather only could improve from there.) 

As a child, I was outdoorsy and carefree. Times were simpler then! As I grew, I discovered a passion for aviation and wanted to be a pilot. I trained in gliding and aeronautics during middle and high school. When I joined the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) upon graduating high school, women weren’t allowed to be pilots, so I was unable to continue that track. 

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What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school? 

Following two years with the IDF, I went to Hadassah College Jerusalem (HCJ) in Israel to pursue a degree in Computer Science B.Sc. Unsurprisingly, there were few women who attended the program. 

While earning my degree, I started my first role as a Network Operations Center technician or NOC Operator. In Israel, it is common to start your first job while in university. 

The role was at a VoIP startup — a technology that was just emerging at that time. The company was small, but it was a vibrant culture, and I was working on cutting-edge technology. This experience gave me my first glimpse into innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today? 

In my last year of college, I moved to a new role with Comverse Technology, a flagship Israeli tech company. 

While very different than the VoIP startup, both organizations offered cultures with a sense of family and belonging. I was drawn to the mission and people. It’s very similar to what drew me to Aqua — the values and the team. 

I grew a tremendous amount during my 14 years with Comverse and progressed from a software developer to a software team leader to eventually a software project manager and then a senior program and project manager. My responsibilities expanded from strictly development to business-oriented strategic leadership.  Although I spent many years with one company, it was a dynamic, fast-paced environment, and my role was constantly evolving.  

In addition to the pivotal moments, I also think of the critical people who impacted my career path, and my mentors along the years. My mother had a significant influence. She is a strong independent woman, who balanced family and work. She was able to be very present in our household but also had her own path. She showed me that women can have their own career, and she inspired me to pursue all of my passions. 

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What is your current role and responsibilities? 

At Aqua, I lead the global Customer Success department and oversee a team of over 25 amazing CSMs (and growing!). Our team is responsible for the customer journey beginning at day one, focused on maximizing adoption and value in their goal of securing their cloud native applications and infrastructure.  

We have a 360 view of the customer’s experience and act as trusted advisors and advocates internally for Aqua’s customers. We partner with Aqua’s engineering and product teams and prioritize new integrations or features that are requested by customers. We see ourselves as an extension of our customers’ teams to ensure they are successful. In other words, we help amplify the voice of the customer. 

Aqua is maturing its customer success offerings rapidly, and I’m responsible for building our global team. We are expanding into new regions including Singapore, Australia, Europe and across the United States -— we plan to hire 15 ppl in 2022 (so check out our openings!).  

Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally?  Was it always your goal to be in this position? 

Not exactly. Customer success is still a relatively new profession that really emerged within the last 15 years.   

I was always drawn to roles that required collaboration with key stakeholders across multiple departments. I’ve also always had a passion for both the interpersonal side as well as the technical. Moving into customer success was a natural evolution. Each role I held throughout my career helped prepare and shape me for my current role. 

For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals? 

I was the first Customer Success Manager at Aqua (I’ve been promoted 4 times since I was hired if it shows anything about the opportunity for growth at Aqua!). I can say that perseverance, hard work and the drive to learn is what’s helped me be successful. 

Those who are considering customer success need to enjoy working with people and see customers beyond the numbers. It requires dedication and a “do whatever it takes” mindset to help customers achieve their goals. 

I’d also stress the importance of investing the time to understand product, the market, and trends. This is the foundation for success. 

What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well? 

Grit and flexibility along with the right balance of technical and interpersonal skills. You need to be able to build partnerships internally and externally. 

Project management skills are also essential. You must be detail oriented but also strategic and able to see the bigger picture to set goals (and work backwards to achieve those goals). 

What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work?  What’s the most challenging?   

I love being a part of a company that is growing so quickly (aka a high growth unicorn!). I can see firsthand how my contribution has a direct impact on the company’s success.  

A challenge I face, like many in cybersecurity and tech, is hiring in a dynamic and competitive market. We are extremely focused on retaining talent and nurturing professional growth within the company. I think this is unique differentiator at Aqua that is helping set us apart. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment? 

I left my role at Comverse after 14 years to move to Boston with my husband, three boys and our dog. We left our family and friends for a new city and new careers. When I landed my role at Aqua, it was my first role in customer success, and I embraced the opportunity. I spent weeks learning the market and the technology and simultaneously understanding our customers and their needs.   

I built a new “Aqua” family in Boston and at the same time built the company’s first customer success team from its inception to a robust program with 28 people today. The opportunity to drive the processes and create the programs have been very rewarding. We continue to listen to customer feedback and are always evolving and improving. It's really exciting! 

Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?   

I participate in executive MVP customer success forums, and I volunteer with both the Israeli Scouts and the Israeli American Council Community Leadership Forum. I also act as an internal mentor within Aqua. 


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 

I am very active and a bit of a workout junkie. I enjoy a range of activities including yoga, soul cycle, lifting, rowing, biking, running and triathlons. I love the outdoors, the beach, hiking with my boys, dogs and husband and also traveling. 

I also like to carve out time for healthy cooking and baking as well. I am proud to say I just won the first annual dessert contest at Aqua with my mini tiramisus!   

How do you manage stress? 

See above! Being active is my secret. 

A group of people in a body of waterDescription automatically generated with medium confidence

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day? 

Too many to count. More than 3 — we'll leave it at that. 

Any book or podcast recommendations?

I like to listen to Customer Success podcasts. One in particular I like is Planhat:  

https://www.planhat.com/tags/podcast/ 

I read a lot of leadership books and anything related to well-being and health. 

What advice do you have for recent college graduates? 

  • Start networking as early as possible. You never know where opportunities will come from! 
  • When the time comes for an interview, preparation is key. Put in the effort, it will show.   
  • Lastly, don’t settle. Take the right role where you are happy, challenged and find the right cultural fit.   

I understand it’s competitive as a new graduate, but look for companies that welcome young, emerging talent. Aqua for example has an associate, entry-level program where we take recent grads. This has been really successful for both Aqua and the incoming talent. Hard work is acknowledged and rewarded, and these team members are moving up the ladder quickly. 

About the
Company

Aqua Security Acquires Argon, the Leader in Software Supply Chain Security

“With the addition of Argon to the Aqua Platform, we continue to execute on our vision of full lifecycle cloud native protection,” said Dror Davidoff, CEO and Co-Founder, Aqua. “There’s a lot of noise in the growing cloud native security market, but few vendors offer true CNAPP capabilities. The addition of Argon’s unique technology propels Aqua even further ahead of the competition making us the only vendor in the space that fully protects how cloud applications are developed, deployed, and run. We are thrilled to welcome Argon to the family and bring our customers end-to-end cloud native application protection.”

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Lead(H)er Profile - Denise Cheung, SVP of Product & Services at Vee24 banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Denise Cheung, SVP of Product & Services at Vee24

Open Jobs Company Page

Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the tech industry. In this Q&A, we are featuring Denise Cheung, SVP of Product & Services at Vee24


Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?

I grew up in Hong Kong. It was good to experience the city both under British rule and the development after hand-over to China. As a child, I was independent and always wanted to act 10 years older!

What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?

I studied business management at Cornell but spent half of my time on the Arts quad studying  German literature. My first job out of college was with an IT consulting and systems integrations firm called American Management Systems, now part of the Montreal-based CGI Group (NYSE: GIB) (TSX: GIB.A). I started out as a business analyst and lived out of a suitcase doing software implementations on client sites. 

Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?

I had a great mentor at CGI. She was an executive consultant for the C-suite. She took me under her wings and pushed me to do what I was capable of, not what my role said on paper. It felt more like an apprenticeship learning a craft to effect technology-led transformation at large enterprises. The inflection point came when I successfully pulled off a high profile workshop with a room full of old guards at Chrysler, driving consensus to adopt a new strategy. Then I got it – it was about the value you add and communicate, not your age.

The second critical moment was at the SaaS start-up Anaqua. I was responsible for delivering projects to our early stage clients like Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Ford, and Kimberly-Clark, but the product's founder fell ill and had to leave the company. I did not have classical product training, nor did I come from an engineering or marketing background. But our CEO took a chance and eventually made me the head of product. She trusted me to innovate closely with clients in the trenches. We ended up with great product / market fit, rapidly evolving the designs with leading practitioners across diverse industries. The collaborative R&D fueled the development of a holistic platform without custom build for individual clients. The snowball effect was extraordinary. The client community became the brain trust for our roadmap and reaped a greater return from everyone's investments.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

The mission of Vee24 is to help brands power their digital business with a high-touch, person-to-person online customer experience. For high-end eCommerce, companies need more than just high definition video chat, but tools like cobrowsing, online / off-line scheduling in a seamless, branded way, instead of a patchwork of solutions. 

My number one responsibility is to ensure clients achieve ongoing success in eCommerce with great customer experiences. We partner with clients to rewire the way they engage customers one-on-one, and to choreograph a seamless online customer journey. To do so, I rely on an  incredible professional services team. Everyone is client-focused, expert, and passionate. So my role is to scale our company by bringing their talent to bear without losing the values that made this crew amazing. 

Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally?  Was it always your goal to be in this position?

My career has taken me down several surprising paths. The position itself was never a goal. Rather, it was the constant discovery and rediscovery of client needs that led to one thing after another. My goal has always been to create lasting value for people and companies at scale. So I look for roles where I can do that. 

For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?

There are already volumes of materials out there on innovation and client success, so perhaps I can provide a few practical hacks: 

  • Be a good technical translator – If you want to be an effective conduit between end users and engineers, you have to be able to translate the end user's problem into an actionable requirement for engineers. Then you motivate users to adopt the solution. 
  • Learn to work with big numbers – Connect the dots for yourself and your team so you align everyone to focus on what matters in the big picture. 
  • Put yourself in others' shoes – I learned a great trick early in my career from a book on sales. The author recounted his experience selling door-to-door. He said he would often study the prospect's shoes and imagine himself in them, LITERALLY. People call that empathy now, but whatever you call it, do it!

What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?

Take time to listen to clients, our teams, the market, and the competition. Have conviction in your product and constantly communicate it in action or words. Finally, do what you say you are going to do.

What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work?  What’s the most challenging?

The most rewarding aspect of my work is to be trusted. That really allows me to contribute to the long-term success of a venture, or even better, the personal growth and success of individuals. For my team, that can come in the form of uncovering a talent they did not realize they have. For my clients, I always keep an eye on how we can define new responsibilities together that can lead to greater visibility or even promotions.   

The biggest obstacle to digital transformation is mindset, not technology. So the challenge is to help an organization unlearn the old to adopt the new. Every puzzle is different and it is always interesting to find new ways to tackle change. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Heading up product and marquee accounts at Anaqua, a software and now full service solutions company that is also Boston-based. 

We took it from a little known underdog start-up and put it on the map. It is now a global player in the intellectual asset management space.

The first 7 years were all about going deep in building solutions for a new market need and outmaneuvering competitors that were many times our size. 

Then it was about expansion into Europe and AsiaPac, culminating in multiple acquisitions, including a competitor, and eventually winning industry accolades for best-in-class platform. 

It was a fantastic ride and an honor to learn from the best practitioners in the space. It was fun bringing together the most innovative thinking across companies, and building something together that has lasting impact.

Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?

Right now, it is important for my current role not to spread myself too thin. So I am preserving time for self- and team development. But I definitely have plans for the future. 


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I like photographing food! I also like taking portraits of people in special moments. 

How do you manage stress?

Different people react to situations differently. I find it useful to minimize sources of stress with communication habits such as asking about expectations early. But I do like switching up pace and scenery with travel and calligraphy.

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?

2 + 1 Diet Coke.

What's one of your favorite places in the Boston area?

Charles river. 

My husband and I walk and cycle a lot around the city. 

It is beautiful in the fall and summer when crossing BU bridge or Mass ave. 

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

Book – "Trusted Advisor" by David Maister. It is a classic. Also, Marty Cagan's "Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love" (Silicon Valley Product Group).

Podcast – 99% Invisible to spark different perspectives and Reid Hoffman's Masters of Scale for professional reflection. 

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Find people who have more confidence in you than you have in yourself. Take initiative to develop deep relationships with your advocates.

If certain things do not turn out as planned, adapt, but do not give up. Keep pursuing what works well for you and keep figuring out what you are good at.

Professional life is getting re-shaped and re-defined. Take advantage of that. There will be new roles and paths to success that did not exist before. Stay creative!

About the
Company

Vee24 is the live customer engagement platform trusted by the world’s leading consumer-facing brands.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Christina Nelson, VP of Sales at NuvoAir banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Christina Nelson, VP of Sales at NuvoAir

Open Jobs Company Page

Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the tech industry. In this Q&A, we are featuring Christina Nelson, VP of Sales at NuvoAir


Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?

I grew up on a farm in Kansas. From a very early age, I was helping out with the farm and learning about the value of hard work. I spent the majority of my time outside hiking around the farm and caring for my own herd of animals. I went to a very small school (graduating class of 30 students!), so there were many opportunities to participate in every club and sport. I participated in every sport at some point and most of the clubs! I took on leadership roles early including being president of my 4-H club and student council. I also helped found the FCCLA Kansas Peer Education teams. 

What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?

I’ve always had a strong interest in service and non-profits and studied public relations in the school of journalism and communications at Kansas State University. I was very much interested in public service at a community level. Unfortunately circumstances didn’t allow for that dream just yet. After college, I started my career in inside sales in Chicago at CDW. 

Christina Nelson NuvoAir

Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?

The biggest breakthroughs in my career came from being intentional and aligning with my personal mission. In the beginning of my career, I took opportunities that were interesting and moved me forward, but about a decade into my career I realized that I was successful, but I wasn’t fulfilled by my work. I hired a career coach and worked for a few years on my next steps. During that time, I was able to advance within my current company to a role that I found interesting and start to work on my long term plan. Interestingly enough, my long term plan was very much aligned with my original goal of working at a community level. It just looked a little different. With a background in care management, I saw the opportunity to modernize healthcare access in all communities, rural and urban, through technology to allow access to more people in need. Once I set my sights on digital health, I did research and gained new skills until I was ready to make the move at one of my targeted companies. I aligned with a role in health plan sales and Omada and was able to gain so much from the people there. My move to NuvoAir came unexpectedly, but the opportunity to continue my mission in digital health by launching the brand in the US, while building a team and working in a startup couldn’t be passed up. 

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I am currently the Vice President of Health Plans at NuvoAir. NuvoAir is a person-first, relationship based virtual care platform that proactively monitors and manages members with chronic respiratory conditions such as COPD, asthma and cystic fibrosis to flag deterioration risk and improve care. I was brought on to launch our digital health program in the US. I am responsible for sales strategy and execution. I have a small team, which will continue to grow as we scale the business. 

Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally?  Was it always your goal to be in this position?

It depends on how far I look back! When I started my career, I couldn’t have imagined I would be here, but over the past decade I have definitely been working toward this place in my career. Particularly, I knew I wanted to be in a strategic sales leadership role in a company that helps provide care to those that might not otherwise have access. I have always been drawn to developing talent and expanding worthwhile causes.

Christina Nelson NuvoAir

For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?

I’d start with just that -- set goals. I can’t stress enough the value of setting clear and measurable goals that align with your personal mission. Don’t be tough on yourself around timelines and don’t be afraid to change your goals and your knowledge grows, but do hold yourself accountable for making incremental progress along the way. Reach out to others for help and advice. Most of us in these positions had help getting here and are more than happy to provide counsel. Also, don’t be afraid to hire a career coach! They are by far the best option to help you focus and, most importantly, to give you objective feedback and help you stay accountable to you. 

What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?

Communication is key. It’s imperative to be able to provide a clear message around what needs to be done and more importantly why to both internal and external stakeholders. Keep in mind that communication is a two way street. To communicate expertly, you must first be a good listener. Also, don’t forget those soft skills -- show up on time, network in your industry, and be a team player!

What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work?  What’s the most challenging?

I love the idea that I’m playing a part in a pivotal shift in US healthcare. Technology has opened so many doors for people to be able to obtain care and improve their health at home. Growing up in rural America, I saw all my neighbors skip out on healthcare due to two to three hour drives to specialist care. Now, living in downtown Atlanta, I see different issues around obtaining healthcare such as not being able to take off work or childcare. Some of these problems can certainly be assisted by remote care. The challenge lies in awareness and adoption from those very people, as well as getting buy-in from health plans and physicians for access. 

Christina Nelson NuvoAir

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

For me it’s not any large accolade or promotion along the way, but seeing those I’ve helped along the way. Whether that be someone I have mentored or led succeeding or a person that now has access to care due to my work. 

Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?

I represent NuvoAir through organizations like the Digital Medicine Society and the Digital Therapeutics Alliance. I also stay active in community organizations such as Junior League of Atlanta. 


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I absolutely love trying out new things and having new experiences! It could be a new travel destination, restaurant, state park for a hike or taking a pottery class. I tend to be analytical at work, so love to stretch myself creatively in my personal time.

Christina Nelson NuvoAir

How do you manage stress?

I have spent a lot of time working on my meditation practice. My practice is easier some days than others, but it’s always there when needed. I consider it a superpower to be able to step away for 10 minutes, reset via meditation and go back to task.

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?

Zero. I’m not a coffee person. I do, however, indulge in hot tea of all kinds throughout the day and will treat myself to a latte on the weekends.

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

I listen to The Daily by the New York Times. I love the deeper dives into current topics and the rundown of the day’s news. I also listen to a mix of industry and health podcasts with a good mix of my personal favorites like Brene Brown.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Don’t be afraid to fail or just start over. You’re not stuck in one path just because of your major. Find your passion and go for it.

About the
Company

We envision a world where all people have the opportunity to manage and achieve better respiratory health.

Every decision we make starts and ends with patients. Our fully integrated digital solution is used by patients and their doctors, as well as clinical trials to help improve the lives of people living with severe respiratory diseases like COPD, Cystic Fibrosis, and severe Asthma. With proven clinical and economic outcomes, we’re one of the leading Nordic HealthTech startups with a global presence.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Leigha Kemmett, COO at Tomorrow.io banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Leigha Kemmett, COO at Tomorrow.io

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the tech industry. In this Q&A, we are featuring Leigha Kemmett, COO at Tomorrow.io


Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?

I grew up south of Boston, in the suburbs. I am the oldest of three children and I think I have always had classic oldest-child personality traits (i.e. my siblings found me a bit bossy for their tastes).

Leigha Kemmett Tomorrow.io

What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?

A little known fact about me is that I actually started Cornell as an engineer, though I realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t for me and changed my major to government. After graduation, I took a job in investment banking in New York. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and investment banking just seemed like an interesting first role that could help me figure out my career path. I learned everything I know about finance because I had incredible, generous colleagues who taught me the ropes of investment banking in that job. I never wanted to be a career banker, but I am very grateful to have had my banking years. They provided a solid foundation for the rest of my career.

Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?

When I left banking, I wanted to work in an industry that I found personally interesting, and I love movies, so I took a job in corporate strategy at 20th Century Fox. I honestly thought I would work in entertainment forever – I loved my time at Fox, and I later spent time at Hulu and Disney. But when I ended up at a startup in the entertainment space (Brat), running their finance team, I realized that what I valued most in a job was being able to build something - so startups are perfect for me. When the Tomorrow.io opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance, because I knew I’d get to help build something really meaningful. Transitioning from entertainment to SaaS was a huge change for me, but I knew that I loved the team and I loved the role – and it was a great decision. 

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I’m currently the COO at Tomorrow.io, which is a platform for global weather and climate security. I’m essentially responsible for making sure that everyone at the company is rowing the boat in the same direction – setting priorities and direction, and ensuring that all of our decision-making and priorities are serving our broader vision and strategy. I get to touch every part of the business, which is great. 

Leigha Kemmett Tomorrow.io

Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally?  Was it always your goal to be in this position?

I don’t think I ever really knew the exact title or role, but I always knew I wanted to be able to operate a business and put all of the pieces together across functions. So it’s definitely an amazing fit with my career interests.

For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?

I think it helps to get experience in as many different departments or functions as you can. You definitely have to be flexible and willing to take on different responsibilities. Over the course of my career, I’ve been tasked with so many random things (from M&A deals to launching a consumer products line), and all of those experiences have been valuable in setting me up for success as a COO

What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?

The most important skill is the ability to see the forest for the trees. You can’t get too bogged down in the details or day-to-day; you have to get that done, but you need to see the big picture and be able to make decisions based on that big picture. I also think you need to be able to identify, hire, and develop strong talent. That applies to most jobs, but especially in people-facing teams like Operations.

What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work?  What’s the most challenging?

Like many startups, we constantly are achieving milestones or taking on entirely new projects. It’s extremely rewarding (and fun!) to tackle these new challenges and watch as the company and our teams achieve their goals. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

This is sort of lame, but I don’t know that I have one yet, although every new product milestone and contract we sign at Tomorrow.io inspires pride. We are doing some amazing things at Tomorrow and we have so much to look forward to – I am just so excited for the future! 

Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?

I am on the Associates Board of KIPP SoCal, a nonprofit organization that operates 23 tuition-free, open-enrollment charter public schools in Southern California, primarily serving underprivileged neighborhoods and students. I am very involved in the organization and love working with them – their schools and the work they do is amazing, and they are a great example of operational excellence that I find inspiring. 


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I have two adorable corgis, and I am happiest when playing fetch or hiking with them and my husband. I am also looking forward to more travel after Covid! We’ve traveled a bit, but I’m eager to travel more internationally.

Leigha Kemmett Tomorrow.io

Leigha Kemmett Tomorrow.io

How do you manage stress?
Spending time with my dogs. They are so goofy, it’s impossible not to laugh at them every day. I also do a lot of pilates, which is great for clearing my mind, and I love DIY projects – floral arranging, baking, making jam. My friends and family are usually the recipients of these projects, whether they like it or not.

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?
I only started drinking coffee recently. I probably average 2-3 a week total. But that average keeps increasing!

What's one of your favorite places in the Boston area?

Choosing just one is impossible. I grew up in the suburbs, so all of my favorite Boston places are in the suburbs. I make the drive often down to Stodders Neck in Hingham, MA for walks with my dogs. Sometimes we will follow that with a trip to Duxbury for some amazing chowder at Snug Harbor Fish or the world’s best ice cream at FarFar’s. 

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

I try to read a lot. I recently read Killers of the Flower Moon with a few friends and we loved it. Highly recommend!

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Don’t be stressed if your first job isn’t what you think your ideal future career is. Learn as much as you can, spend a few years adjusting to working life, and then look for something that excites you! Your first few jobs will largely be a way to figure out what you do and don’t like, so enjoy the time and try to really hone in on aspects of your job that you like or dislike.

Leigha Kemmett Tomorrow.io

About the
Company

Tomorrow.io is Helping Countries, Businesses, and Individuals better manage their Climate Security Challenges. 

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27 of the Top Leaders in the Tech Scene - Lead(H)er Recap banner image

27 of the Top Leaders in the Tech Scene - Lead(H)er Recap

Our Lead(H)er series shares the stories of women leaders at some of the fastest-growing companies in the tech industry.

Here is a recap featuring the 27 inspirational stories from 2021 with a short segment from each profile. You'll learn everything from the challenges, successes, and surprises of their careers, lots of useful advice, and more!


Sue Nolin Wasabi

“For women in tech, or for women looking to break into technology, remember that you don’t need to be an expert before you start the job.  This isn’t a new message but it’s worth repeating. Trust your foundational skills and trust those around you. Your colleagues, your leaders, they want to see you succeed. Your success influences theirs.

Check out the full Article   View Wasabi's Jobs


Kady Srinivasan Klaviyo

“I never thought I would be in a CMO/head of marketing role. It used to bother me that I didn't know what I wanted to do esp when I saw the clarity my peers had. However, I have realized that not knowing has given me a richer background, and frankly has been more fun. A big secret right now is, I have no idea where I will be in 10 years!”

Check out the full Article   View klaviyo's Jobs


Lauren Lowman Ordergroove

"As I reflect on how I’ve progressed in my career, I attribute a lot of my success to saying “yes” to new opportunities and additional work responsibilities. I’ve always tried to play the long game when it comes to my career, meaning filling in gaps in responsibilities, even if it's not technically a part of my role and thinking of them as opportunities to learn something new.”

Check out the full Article   View ordergroove's Jobs


Erin Byrne Recorded Future

“Aim high, take risks and work really hard. Most importantly, earn your keep/respect, don’t be entitled!”

Check out the full Article   View recorded future's Jobs


Zoe Silverman Yesware

“I think just be open to anything -- there are so many jobs and experiences that could contribute to a future in People Ops, you don’t necessarily have to start there (I didn’t). ”

Check out the full Article   View yesware's Jobs


Evadne Cokeh ButcherBox

“Patience, communication, empathy, and the ability to persuade are also skills that have gotten me to where I am today. I’ve spent many years honing those skills, they certainly are not skills you develop overnight. The variety of my work experiences really helped me with these skills too – which says a lot in terms of not needing a “traditional” career path to get where you want to go. ”

Check out the full Article   View butcherBox's Jobs


Heather Bentley Mimecast

“I often tell people that their career paths won’t be linear. It’s important to be open to new opportunities, roles, and industries. Gain as much experience and knowledge as possible and if you are no longer passionate about the role or work you are doing, try something new! "

Check out the full Article   View Acquia's Jobs


Jennifer Armstrong Duck Creek Technologies

“Second, find a good mentor(s) that you trust to help you on your career journey. A mentor doesn’t always have to be someone you have a direct mentorship relationship with. I have had people that I would consider mentors that I just watched how they interacted with people or handled situations. Everyone in your life/career can be a mentor informally. It is also important to find advocates for you outside of your direct management chain.”

Check out the full Article   View duck creek technologies' Jobs


Shital Whitmore SmartBear

“Treat people the way you want to be treated. Titles don’t matter. People are people. Work with people. They will help you, and you will help them.”

Check out the full Article   View smartbear's Jobs


Hillary Wyon EF Education First

“There is no job below you. You can learn something from everything you are tasked with. You may just have to figure out what it is. Sometimes it won’t be the big cool challenge you are looking for but they are all steps towards that.”

Check out the full Article   View EF Education first's Jobs


Brittney St. Germain Forward Financing

“Focus on finding work that’s interesting and puts you in the company of interesting and smart people, the rest will come together.”

Check out the full Article   View forward financing's Jobs


 
Daria Marmer Alyce

“Feedback is a gift, but it's often wrapped up in stinky old newsprint instead of a cute bow. Being able to discard the wrapping but still keep the gift will help you grow and bounce back from adversity faster. ” 

Check out the full Article   View alyce's Jobs


Lisa Schneider Framework

“I can’t count how many times I have been the only woman at the table, the only woman in the room. I have literally had vendors sit down and try to explain the interwebs to me before pitching their service, or ask me for the wi-fi password and then turn away. I am definitely aware that I have had to work harder, perform better, just to be considered. It can be really hard to persist, but you just do it. And then you reach a hand down and help the person behind you.”

Check out the full Article   View framework's Jobs


Suzanne Glick Gilfix Applause

“Don’t worry if you haven’t figured it out as of yet. Find good people to learn from either in your job or outside of it and ask lots of questions of how people got to where they are. As noted above, find mentors that do what you think you strive to achieve and then figure out how they got there. ”

Check out the full Article   View applause's Jobs

Harinder Bhinder ZoomInfo

“Grab any opportunity you get to learn new skills. It’s ok to feel uncomfortable with what you don’t know. If you’re in your comfort zone, you’re probably not growing. Find the right people to work with  - who can challenge you and mentor you.”

Check out the full Article   View zoominfo's Jobs


Jenny Kim Giblin Everquote

“Explore! I am in the position I am in at least partially by happenstance. I said yes to a lot of opportunities that let me figure out and refine my career path (which I am still doing, by the way).”

Check out the full Article   View everquote's Jobs


Shira Haddad CareAcademy

"Embrace the ways in which you are different, that’s your power and your contribution to expanding people’s perspectives.”

Check out the full Article   View careAcademy's Jobs


Sharon Butler Flywire

“I would tell them to be open minded and take chances. Don't always play it safe. Go for the opportunity that excites you the most because your passion will fuel your path. Whatever job you're doing, give it your all. Ask a lot of questions, be curious and take notice of what others are doing.”

Check out the full Article   View flywire's Jobs


Virginia Ng Knox

“Raise your hand and don’t be afraid to stretch yourself in a function or area that is new to you. I think there is value in being specialized in a specific skill set or role, but there is also value in having experience in many functions (even if it is just volunteering to work closely with another team).  We often call this knowing enough to be dangerous."

Check out the full Article   View knox financial's Jobs


Julie (Devaney) Hogan Toast

“It’s easy to think that certain jobs only exist for certain people. Get rid of your fixed mindset. Put yourself out there, and start asking for introductions, asking for help and mentorship, spending time really nurturing relationships, and finding ways to get exposure to the work you want to do. You HAVE to ask for it, and you also have to start saying yes to things, even when everyone else around you tells you to say no : ). It’s ok to not follow the pack.”

Check out the full Article   View toast's Jobs


Eva Moscat irobot

“Be inquisitive and take your time to dig into what you’re working on to learn past your immediate task. Regardless of your role and responsibilities, there is always something to learn whether it’s how to do something, how not to do something, new technologies, pros and cons to different implementations and solutions, process improvements, etc. Your learnings from your experiences will prepare you for future opportunities.”

Check out the full Article   View irobot's Jobs


Amy Wagner CreateMe

“Whatever job you do, be excellent at it.  Take full responsibility and ownership of what you are doing and it will open countless doors for you."

Check out the full Article   View createme's Jobs


Christina Ford Arellano Acoustic

“Be open to opportunities. I think people can be too focused on looking at a position’s title vs. what they can learn from the job. I never thought I would have a few of the positions I’ve held, but when I saw the scope of the jobs and the responsibilities I would have, they piqued my curiosity and I recognized that they would allow me to learn and grow.”

Check out the full Article   View acoustic's Jobs


Laurie Coppola Mitchell Wasabi

“It is important to be able to work well with others. It may sound overly simple but it is important to be inclusive and respectful to everyone no matter their level or title. It is also important to never adopt the mindset that you know everything, no matter what your title is.”

Check out the full Article   View wasabi's Jobs


Amanda (Baldi) Baier Vecna

“Step up. Do the hard thing -- take on a project that is big and scary or overwhelming, step into a place in your organization that needs a leader, give candid feedback in a loving way, etc. What’s hard is different for everybody, but you have to learn to recognize your edges and then lean into that discomfort. That’s how you grow and become a bigger, better, more powerful version of yourself.”

Check out the full Article   View vecna robotics' Jobs


Debbie Umbach Dynatrace

“Never be afraid to take on new challenges and ask a lot of questions. Embrace your mistakes and learn from them. ”

Check out the full Article   View dynatrace's Jobs


Eva Maloney AppNeta

“Never turn down an opportunity, even if you think you might be getting in over your head.Joining a company with a culture that allows you to fail is key, because that’s how you learn.”

Check out the full Article   View Appneta's Jobs

Lead(H)er Profile - Harinder Bhinder, VP of Engineering Applications at ZoomInfo banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Harinder Bhinder, VP of Engineering Applications at ZoomInfo

Open Jobs Company Page

Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the tech industry. In this Q&A, we are featuring Harinder Bhinder, VP of Engineering Applications at ZoomInfo


Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?

I grew up in India in a small city. As a child, I was generally reserved but wasn’t shy to participate in a lot of activities/clubs at school. My mom (who never attended school) was told that the daughter didn’t need the same standard of education as the boys. I’m glad she didn’t listen to that advice. My parents wanted me to have the same opportunities as my brothers, and that’s a big reason for where I am today. 

What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?

I moved to the US with my family after high school. I studied Computer Science and started programming for the first time in college and the idea of using logic for problem solving resonated deeply. I really enjoyed the concepts of Software Engineering, the idea of building small components and bringing them together to build a complex system. As I graduated, the DotCom bust led to a scarcity of software engineering jobs. My first job was at the R&D Center of a leading ceramics manufacturing company, writing scripts to automate analysis of various processes.

Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?

Prior to ZoomInfo, I was at Sterling Commerce where I worked on Supply Chain Management software. I left shortly after Sterling Commerce was acquired by IBM because I wanted to work at a small company. That’s when I joined ZoomInfo. At the time, there were about 70 employees.

Joining ZoomInfo was one of the best professional decisions I’ve made. It was the perfect fit - not a startup but a fast paced environment in a small company where you could make an impact in many ways. I grew with the company, working on various technical projects. I also gravitated towards taking on tasks like planning, cross functional communication, removing roadblocks etc. ZoomInfo was acquired by a private equity firm in 2018 and by DiscoverOrg in early 2019. These were pivotal moments that set us on the path to our hyper-growth journey and I had the opportunity to be part of this amazing experience. Today, we are a 2500+ employees company. There are many challenges ahead of us as we grow and scale and solving these challenges is yet another exciting phase.

What has contributed the most to my growth are the people around me. The passion and energy of the leaders and the amazing teammates is contagious and addictive. I am grateful that so many people believed in me and supported me. The 10 years at ZoomInfo have been very rewarding, personally as well as professionally, and the journey continues.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

Our product suite is growing rapidly and providing a unified experience across these products to our customers has a huge business impact. My team is focused on building the foundation for shared services and APIs that can be consumed by various products. Our goal is to help engineering be more efficient, reduce toil and duplication and provide the automation and tooling that makes development a rewarding experience at ZoomInfo.     

Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally?  Was it always your goal to be in this position?

Our goal at ZoomInfo has always been to take the organization to the next level. We have strong leaders who constantly challenge us, and we strive to be better every day. I am fortunate to be working in a company where that effort is recognized and rewarded regardless of gender, race, background etc. I started at ZoomInfo to work with a smart group of people using cutting edge technologies to solve complex problems. The small company culture lent itself to various opportunities where I could wear multiple hats and grow into the leadership role.

For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?

Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges, especially ones that allow you to help the organization you’re part of succeed and not just your team.

What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?

The ability to remain calm and help my team manage the constant pull in various directions that is part of the hyper-growth phase and can be overwhelming. In a fast growing company, it’s important to also always keep the bigger picture in mind and think long term and promote that culture as well.

What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work?  What’s the most challenging?

As we continue to grow exponentially, the biggest challenge is the scaling of our teams, processes and systems while building a culture that promotes individual growth and makes working at ZI a rewarding experience. Helping the teams work through these challenges and being successful is the most rewarding part of my job. 


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Spending time with my kids, gardening when weather permits. I love learning new languages.

How do you manage stress?

Over the last year and a half, I’ve tried to include workouts in my routine, whether it’s 10 mins of yoga or a 30 min run. Recently picked up swimming, which is a very relaxing workout. Meditating also helps whenever I can. Taking that time out for myself helps me recharge and be my better self at both home and work.

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?

I mostly drink black tea twice a day. Some days I drink coffee, but no more than a cup.

Any book or podcast recommendations?  (professional or fun)

Thinking in Systems, Sapiens (gifted by my amazing manager :)) - 2 books that I’ve read recently that I really enjoyed and learned from.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Grab any opportunity you get to learn new skills. It’s ok to feel uncomfortable with what you don’t know. If you’re in your comfort zone, you’re probably not growing.

Find the right people to work with  - who can challenge you and mentor you.

About the
Company

ZoomInfo has the precise information you need to reach your next customer, convert your next lead, and close your next deal.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Jenny Giblin, VP of Health Strategic Initiatives at EverQuote banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Jenny Giblin, VP of Health Strategic Initiatives at EverQuote

Open Jobs Company Page

Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the tech industry. In this Q&A, we are featuring Jenny Giblin, VP of Health Strategic Initiatives at EverQuote


Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?

I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. I was a tomboy through grade school - very into sports and dreaming of being the first female MLB player. 

Jenny Giblin Everquote

My visit with the Women’s World Cup trophy

What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?

I was an Economics and Communication Studies double major; I have always felt comfortable blending “hard” and “soft” skills. This was a requirement for success in my first full time job as a management consultant and have continued to lean into roles where both are needed.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I am currently responsible for driving customer retention and loyalty for Everquote’s Direct to Consumer Agency. My responsibilities include strategy setting and operational execution to grow relationships with the consumers we serve over time. 

Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally?  Was it always your goal to be in this position?

Yes and no. My first job instilled a passion for consumer insights and strategy, which have an obvious application in this current role. However, I can’t say I necessarily imagined that to be expressed within the insurtech space, and it wasn’t the role I was originally hired for at EQ. 

For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?

If you have a particular future role in mind I would suggest taking time to deeply understand the skillset and what it takes to succeed in the role. It can help 1) determine if that really is what you want to do and 2) think about how you can fill up your “toolbox” over time to prepare yourself. It might take one organization and multiple roles, or multiple roles across multiple organizations, but you can start to chip away at it. 

What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?

I would boil it down to three things: (1) telling stories with data, (2) influencing people, and (3) persistence. Our operating model requires a lot of cross-functional collaboration, which makes all of these skills particularly important to getting anything done.  

What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work?  What’s the most challenging?

The most rewarding thing is that we are helping our clients get coverage they need to protect themselves and their families. The most challenging thing is that we have so many good ideas on how to accomplish this that I constantly have to prioritize and say “no” to ensure focus.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

I am proud of all the individuals who I have managed, coached, or mentored that I supported through a promotion or other career milestone. I genuinely love helping others find success. 

Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?

I serve on the Northwestern University Leadership Circle Chicago Regional Board and the U.S. Soccer Development Council, where I support giving and development efforts for their respective missions. I also volunteer with Fourth Presbyterian Church serving on Session (our governing body) and the Racial Equity Council.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love to golf and ski - not enough time for either though as most of my free time is spent with my husband trying to keep up with our two young boys. 

Jenny Giblin Everquote

My family on vacation this summer

How do you manage stress?

Mostly through exercise and sleep, although I think donuts also play a pretty significant role…

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?

Two! 

Any book or podcast recommendations?  (professional or fun)

Pachinko and The Nightingale are two of my favorite reads from the last few years

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Explore! I am in the position I am in at least partially by happenstance. I said yes to a lot of opportunities that let me figure out and refine my career path (which I am still doing, by the way). 

About the
Company

We are the largest online Auto Insurance marketplace in the U.S. We're helping end distracted driving with our safe driving app, EverDrive.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Shira Haddad, VP of Engineering at CareAcademy banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Shira Haddad, VP of Engineering at CareAcademy

Open Jobs Company Page

Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the tech industry. In this Q&A, we are featuring Shira Haddad, VP of Engineering at CareAcademy


Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?

I was born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel. I was always a geek who loved books, TV, and computers. My older siblings had an Atari computer (connected to the TV) and we spent our summers playing video games and watching TV shows together.

What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?

I studied Mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem - I loved it; it was so different from the math I learned in High School. When I got my degree I wasn’t sure what I could actually do with it, so I decided to check this QA thing people were talking about. 

Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?

My path was... unexpected. I started with QA and stumbled into management. I then went back to being an individual contributor in both QA and Product but was promoted to lead the QA team in Veson Nautical. From there I moved to lead the whole Engineering department and I really enjoyed this transition. I was always interested in the big picture and this opportunity allowed me to actually impact it.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I recently joined CareAcademy, as their VP of Engineering. I’m currently leading Engineering and Product and am super excited about the team and the work we do here. 

Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally?  Was it always your goal to be in this position?

Not at all! I never imagined myself to be a manager or a leader in an organization. I was always an introvert and a  shy person so my future picture was always of someone who keeps to herself and codes all day. I am grateful to be here though; the challenges are never the same so the learning is constant. 

For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?

Be open-minded and honest about the type of contribution you’d like to make to your company, community, and surroundings overall. The answers might change in time, so it’s good to always go back and ask the questions while considering the big picture.

What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?

I think there are many answers, but I’ll highlight two: attention to detail and empathy. The former is straightforward - listen, observe and follow up on what you’re hearing. You want to grow with the job and impact from within - not from the outside, using a boilerplate of ‘best practices’. The latter is crucial - your agenda might compete with other agendas across the organization so it’s very important to acknowledge it and to try and help the others; even if it’s not spelled out in your OKR’s.

What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work?  What’s the most challenging?

The most rewarding aspect of my job is to help folks around me to have a better day at work. This takes many forms for different people around me and I think that’s also the challenge - understanding when I have the power to make an impact on the work and when do I need to step back.

Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work

I’m a co-chair of the MassTLC Technology and Innovation community. I also mentor a few women in STEM. I really enjoy the relationships those opportunities created for me.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Watching TV and playing video games. I have two young girls and I can’t wait for them to join me in those activities - I guess not a lot has changed since I was a kid!

How do you manage stress?

See above - I love casual video games and I’ve been hooked on Stardew Valley recently. So my answer is farming and killing monsters.

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?

I can stop whenever I want, 2-3 cups a day.

Any book or podcast recommendations?

I listen regularly to Reply All, What a Day, and 60 songs that explain the 90’s. They’re all very different from each other, but I highly recommend each and every one of them.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Embrace the ways in which you are different, that’s your power and your contribution to expanding people’s perspectives.

About the
Company

CareAcademy provides evidence-based online classes for non-medical professional and family caregivers. 

View Company Page
Lead(H)er Profile - Sharon Butler, EVP of Global Education at Flywire banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Sharon Butler, EVP of Global Education at Flywire

Open Jobs Company Page

Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the tech industry. In this Q&A, we are featuring Sharon Butler, EVP of Global Education at Flywire


Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?

I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts. I was one of four children, two sisters and one brother. My extended family also lived in town, so I always had lots of family around. I was incredibly active and curious. I played a sport every season, was active in my Church, joined lots of clubs and always had a job whether it was chores around the house, babysitting for neighbors or working in my small town’s coffee shop. I loved being busy and involved. I also played the clarinet in our marching band and took part in my high school’s theatre productions.  My childhood was full of laughter and love.

What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?

In college I studied communication and business. My first job out of college was with Roche Pharmaceuticals. I was a Professional Medical Rep. I would travel around my territory meeting with doctors and pharmacists sharing the features and benefits of my company’s prescription medications. It was a wonderful foundation and experience. I had great sales development support and learned how to maximize even the smallest opportunities to engage and add value. 

Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?

I have always been in sales. I left the pharmaceutical industry after 6 years to move back home to be near my family and was recruited by my first manager to join a wireless tech company called SkyTel. This was a huge change for me, I went from what was really a promotional product role to more of a quota-based sales role where I learned very quickly that activity equals output in sales and building your funnel of business was the only way to survive. I also learned very quickly how important engagement and follow-up was for building trust and referral opportunities. Even though the pressure for delivering monthly results was very high, and the role was demanding, I loved that I was in control of my earnings and that the more successful I was at helping clients achieve their goals the more I could grow our portfolio of business. I loved hunting and engaging, and I especially loved winning new business. No doubt it was the competitive nature of the sale and the strategy needed to win that excited me, just like playing competitive sports. 

I advanced into leadership roles, taking on more and more responsibility, but after several years in the business I decided I needed a change and began a process of exploring opportunities at other companies. By this time my husband and I had started our family and although it would have been easier to stay in my current role, I have never been one to take the easy way out and I knew I wanted another challenge. This is when I found the Education industry.

I took a Regional Director role at a company called Tuition Management Systems. I loved the idea of focusing on a specific vertical and understanding the unique challenges within the Education industry. It was an incredibly great fit for me because I loved building relationships with the University and College staff and helping them figure out how to automate and optimize their Student Financial Service operations. I loved my role and the company and had no intention of leaving until one day I took a call from an entrepreneur from MIT. He was an international student who had a bad payment experience and was looking to partner with someone who had experience and relationships in Higher Education. Since he was given my name by industry friends, I decided to meet him for a coffee.  

During our coffee I learned about the challenges he faced as an international student and how difficult and costly it was for him to make a payment. He had an idea that we could create a more cost effective and better solution for the students and while he shared, I realized we could do the same for our institutions. It was a two-sided problem that was growing, and it had to be solved. One thing led to another and before I knew it I had left my comfortable job to go off and help start Flywire! Some 11 years later, we've built a multi-vertical company, formed strong relationships with our clients, developed innovative technology, become market experts, and cultivated a unique global company culture focused on customer success. We now have more than 600 FlyMates representing over 40 nationalities located in 12 offices around the world and on May 26, 2021, Flywire became a publicly traded company! 

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I am the EVP of Global Education at Flywire. Currently I lead our sales and account management teams globally. I set our strategic vision and priorities to ensure we continue to deliver the most important and complex payments for our clients and their payers. 

Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally? Was it always your goal to be in this position?

No way!  I always had big dreams and I was always very driven.  I loved sales and leadership, so advancing there was always the goal, but I could never have imagined that at a time in my life where I had two very young children, I would leave a secure job with a great career path to go off and start a company and then take it global.  It’s been the hardest and most rewarding journey of my life.  

For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?

I would tell them to be open minded and take chances. Don't always play it safe. Go for the opportunity that excites you the most because your passion will fuel your path. Whatever job you're doing, give it your all. Ask a lot of questions, be curious and take notice of what others are doing. We don't always know exactly what we want when we start our journey so it's important to be aware and learn about various roles within an organization. Always be willing to raise your hand to help or take on new responsibilities because experience and exposure is the key to learning about yourself and finding your path. There is nothing more rewarding than doing what you love, even when it takes an enormous amount of work and dedication. There really is no magic career button. Let the journey and self-discovery guide you.

What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?

The skills needed to lead a global sales team are wide ranging. The foundation is centered around good communication, planning and leading the vision of success. That vision needs to be communicated and to get alignment and support from internal teams to help move the vision to the execution stage to accomplish revenue targets. Once that is done it is all about the execution of the plan and being ready to knock down walls to help your team deliver. The primary skills used to do all of this are strategist, teacher, motivator, advocate and creative problem solver. Other responsibilities include forecasting, budgeting, recruiting, hiring and staying plugged into market needs and changes.

What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work?  What’s the most challenging?

I love the people and culture at Flywire. We call ourselves FlyMates and it is incredibly rewarding to work with people who care so much about what they do and our clients. Even though our teams are spread across the globe, the collaboration is inspiring. I always know I have the support and commitment to ensure my team can hit their goals and our customers will be satisfied. It's an incredible feeling to work with people that feel like family and who will always deliver. I also love seeing fellow FlyMates develop and grow, advancing their own careers. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Taking Flywire public on May 26, 2021, which was also my son's 17th birthday.

Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?

I enjoy mentoring other entrepreneurs and sales professionals. I am also the go-to for a network of friends when they need someone to donate their time or fundraise for an important cause.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Family time. Cheering on my boys at their sporting events. Taking hikes with my husband and dog, Edgar, getting together with my siblings and their families playing games and laughing. We love board games in the winter and pickleball tournaments in the nicer weather.

How do you manage stress?

I hug my dog Edgar, find something to laugh about, take a few minutes to meditate by popping on a Headspace wind down. Go for a walk and prioritize my to-do list, for some reason that list gives me comfort.

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?

Too many! Two cups in the morning and usually a large cold brew with almond milk in the afternoon for a little pick me up.

Any book or podcast recommendations?

I love the podcast, “How I Built This.” It’s fun to hear about other entrepreneurs’ journeys. For fun, I love to laugh and get a kick out of “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” podcast. As for reading, I always joke with my friends that my library reflects someone who is either trying to figure themselves out or make themselves better. I love to read personal development books. I am currently learning more about the power of meditation and reading a book called The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Don’t panic or beat yourself up if you are uncertain what your passion is or what you ultimately want to be when you grow up. Instead, embrace the journey of self-discovery. Set more achievable short-term goals to learn and get more experience. Have fun, work hard and always follow through with your commitments. A great attitude and strong work ethic will open a lot of opportunities. I waited to take my big risk, but I knew the time was right. Don’t be afraid, be excited!

About the
Company

Flywire is a global payments enablement and software company.

 
View Company Page
Lead(H)er Profile - Virginia Ng, Director of Growth at Knox Financial banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Virginia Ng, Director of Growth at Knox Financial

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the tech industry. In this Q&A, we are featuring Virginia Ng, Director of Growth at Knox Financial


Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child? 

I was born and raised in Boston — Jamaica Plain, specifically, where I now also live after several years away from Boston.  As a very young child, I was shy and quiet, and would immerse myself in books or my Lego set.  Around 4th grade, I started doing pretty well academically and as my grades improved, so did my confidence to speak up in class and on the playground. In my preteen and high school years, I was pretty outgoing and social and participated in band, sports and academic clubs.  

What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school? 

In college, I studied Economics with a secondary focus on Psychology (at the time, Behavioral Economics was a growing and popular subject so it was a perfect fit!).  I discovered my interest in Economics when I was a senior in high school.  On our first day of class, we played the Prisoner’s Dilemma game and I ended up learning about all sorts of real life examples in business and public policy of this game theory, and it was super fascinating to me.  

Going into and in my early years of college, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer.  However, as I learned more about Economics, it became clearer to me that a career in business would be a better fit and I had to do a fast pivot to secure a business internship in my junior year.  Thankfully, American Express gave me a chance and I did a summer internship, and eventually returned full time. I worked within Amex’s Strategic Planning Group (SPG), which served as an internal consulting arm.  The model for SPG was to be staffed on a new project every few months. Through this role, I was exposed to many different types of business problems across many parts of the business.  

Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?

My career path started at Amex. Next was FinLeap (Berlin based fintech incubator), an MBA at Wharton, management consulting at Kearney, strategy and finance at Texas Capital Bank, and my current role at Knox Financial.  

Critical moment #1 was definitely landing my first job at Amex.  As I mentioned in my prior response, I scrambled a little to get my first job out of college and I fortuitously landed in financial services.  Critical moment #2 was when I decided to do a pre-MBA internship in Berlin at a Fintech incubator named FinLeap — although I only spent 3 months there, it really exposed me to the breadth of sub-industries within financial services that were being disrupted by technology and solidified my interest in Fintech.  Critical moment #3 was deciding to leave management consulting to go to Texas Capital Bank to help launch a new digital consumer bank.  After two years of being exposed to numerous business problems, industries, and companies in consulting,  I realized what got me most excited about business were the projects where I was helping to build and launch new things.  Critical moment #4 was deciding to join the start-up world and becoming a member of the Knox Financial team, which is where I am today.  Critical moment #4 has been my best decision to date as I love the fast pace and the interesting problems I am solving every day.  

Virginia Ng Knox Financial

Inside the Reichstag in Berlin (which houses the lower house of the Parliament)

What is your current role and responsibilities?

At Knox Financial, we are committed to helping people turn the homes they are moving out of into investment properties. 

I sit on our Growth team, which is responsible for helping our company expand and grow, including expansion into new markets, launch of new business lines or development of new processes to help the business scale. Specifically, my role is to help launch new partnerships and products that will help our clients from a financing perspective.  For many people who are moving out of their homes, keeping their home as an investment property is a financially smart decision (plus there is the sentimental value of keeping the home they have lived in), but figuring out everything that comes with turning a home into an investment property — from financing to finding a tenant and doing proactive maintenance — can give people pause.  My role is to work with our internal and external partners to provide the tools and products that will help our clients navigate the complicated financing process.  

Virginia Ng Knox Financial

At a recent Knox gathering

Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally?  Was it always your goal to be in this position?

No, but that’s more because I had very little idea of where I would be professionally.  That being said, I love my current position and I like to tell myself that if I had the foresight and clarity to plan for a career goal, it would be where I am today! 

For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals? 

Raise your hand and don’t be afraid to stretch yourself in a function or area that is new to you. I think there is value in being specialized in a specific skill set or role, but there is also value in having experience in many functions (even if it is just volunteering to work closely with another team).  We often call this “knowing enough to be dangerous”. I think I can take on the role that I am in now because I have dabbled in finance, in marketing, in sales enablement, and product.   

What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well? 

Three things really come to mind: 1) Problem solving, especially in a whitespace, 2) Managing many competing priorities and 3) Not being afraid to roll up my sleeves and help my teammates in Product, Marketing and Sales help me achieve my goals

What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work?  What’s the most challenging

The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that I am helping everyday Americans build their investment portfolio and keep the homes that they love as investment properties, while also challenging myself mentally with very interesting problems.  The most challenging part is navigating a very complicated and heavily regulated industry — but having been in financial services for over a decade, that is not new to me! 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Every time that I (along with my teammates) have launched a new campaign, product or business.  One example that particularly comes to mind is when I led a new campaign at American Express called Dine For A Cause.  The campaign donated $1 every time a cardmember made a dining purchase to a non-profit organization called Share Our Strength, whose mission was to help end childhood and poverty in America.  The campaign was a win-win: it was for a cause that was close to my heart and it also helped drive topline revenue to the business.  

Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?

Every year, I do college admissions interviews — I love this volunteer work as it is always so inspiring to see the amazing achievements of our young leaders.  


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love to cook and explore new recipes and to try out new gym classes / exercises.  If I have a lot of free time (a real luxury), I like to play board games or read on my back porch.  

Virginia Ng

In a cooking class in London

How do you manage stress?

By giving myself the space and time to do something for me — even if it’s just a simple walk to help clear my mind and reset.  

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?

Usually just one on workdays and zero on the weekends.  

Any book or podcast recommendations?  

I always recommend What Money Can’t Buy by modern-day philosopher Michael Sandel.  In the book, Sandel tackles the moral limits of capitalism and where markets should or should not play a role.  It may sound a little dry in my short synopsis, but in reading it, you get to explore cool questions like “If markets can help to allocate adoption of babies or donations of organs more efficiently, should there be a market for selling babies or organs?” or “Should you pay kids for good grades, even if it gets the job done by incentivizing them to study?”

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Two pieces of advice come to mind: 

  1. Do not be afraid if you do not have every step of your career planned out.  You should have an idea (it can be extremely rough and it can be a moving target) of where you want to go so that with each move in your career that you make, you are building towards that goal, but you do not need every step mapped out.  A lot of the beauty of building your career comes from the lessons you learn along the way about yourself --  what excites you, what you find rewarding and what works with your personal life.  And, you should take that feedback into consideration versus trying to stick to a rigid plan.  

  2. Maintain the relationships you build with your peers, your leaders and your mentors throughout your career.  It is fun to keep in touch and see where people are in their careers, but it can also help you as you navigate your own career.  Twice now, I’ve been hired into new roles at new companies with former managers -- in fact, one of my hiring leaders was my first ever manager when I was an intern in college!

About the
Company

Knox Financial is a fintech company making it dramatically easier to own investment property and optimize returns.

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