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Lead(H)er Profile - Evadne Cokeh, Vice President of Social and Environmental Responsibility at ButcherBox banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Evadne Cokeh, Vice President of Social and Environmental Responsibility at ButcherBox

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Evadne CokehVice President of Social and Environmental Responsibility at ButcherBox.


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

I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles. As a child I was quiet, studious, curious, helpful and had a passion for singing. As I think about this question now, through a professional lens, there is a lot of consistency in traits that have stuck with me as I’ve navigated my career, particularly my curiosity which has lent a hand in my ability and knack for solving complex problems. 

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

I did my undergrad at Wellesley College where I majored in economics and I earned my MBA from Babson College. My first job was at Forrester Research as a research associate within the consulting firm arm of the organization working with marketing leaders. The biggest takeaway from that job was how I learned to be a business professional. I stayed a year with Forrester before taking an AmeriCorp year.

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

During my undergrad, learning about microfinance gave me my first exposure to the idea of an income-generating business model where the purpose was to make a meaningful impact and address issues of inequality. I think that exposure has shaped my career and my drive. 

I interned at a microfinance company in China which was my first experience in the non-profit world. Through that internship, I came to the realization that the non-profit world is not all rosy – it was a very eye-opening experience to the “real-world.” I learned a lot about the tensions non-profits face with funding and unfortunately saw first-hand the work that was being done versus the work that claimed to have been done. This experience made me doubt the effectiveness of non-profits.

My AmeriCorp year was great for my entrepreneurial spirit and my socially driven heart. I’ve always been drawn to wanting to address issues of injustice or inequality. In this role, I ran a college preparation program for high schoolers, a majority would be the first in their family to attend college. This experience was by far my deepest exposure to working with a very diverse community (racially, religiously, socioeconomically) and where I really developed my communication and facilitation skills. 

I did my MBA at Babson College, focusing on social entrepreneurship and social innovation. Business school was really where I had an opportunity to explore social entrepreneurship business ideas and really develop my business acumen.

I started at ButcherBox and soon took over the product development and operations as the general manager of our sister company, SmoothieBox. I always said I wanted to run a business and this experience reinforced my business acumen, enabled me to expand my ability to handle a lot of stress, managing a team. All of that work prepared me for my new role at ButcherBox. 

What is your current role and responsibilities?

As ButcherBox’s vice president of social and environmental responsibility, I focus on our strategy and initiatives related to driving forward change in animal welfare, the environment, worker welfare and farmers. I chair our internal diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) committee and look at how we are addressing DEI across our business. Part of my role also focuses on our corporate giving program and I also chair our internal diversity, equity, and inclusion committee.

We just became a certified B Corporation, which is an exciting milestone for our company and something that we will use to benchmark our success across all our social and environmental issues. 

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

The short answer is, yes. My career journey always has a continual search for the most effective way to push forward impact and address issues of injustice. Because ButcherBox is a privately held for-profit company, we have control over our money and can decide where that money is spent, rather than a donor, VC, or stock market dictating those decisions. I think this company structure fosters being able to do social and environmental work most effectively. It is definitely a dream to be able to drive new thinking, innovation, and business value while addressing social and environmental issues.  

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?

  • Take action to do the type of work you want to do as much as possible inside and outside of work. When I was working in positions that didn’t really allow me to make an impact on issues of injustice, I turned to volunteering. I would walk a certain neighborhood handing out cups of food that I made with a small group of other volunteers to the homeless community for years. I would give my time to tutor students in afterschool programs. All these experiences give you additional knowledge and experience that is valuable and helps you to stay in touch with what is important to you. 
  • Embrace opportunities that come your way even if it isn’t “exactly” what you want to do and learn as much as you possibly can from them. But also, don’t lose sight of what drives you, what excites you. Make sure to take time to understand what you love to do and what you are naturally good at. Part of this means trying different work, exposing yourself to different types of companies, asking and receiving feedback from people you work with/ who know you well. 
  • Do your job really well and then advocate for what you actually want to do even if it is outside of the scope of your job. If you are doing your job well, I find people are eager to give you more opportunities and responsibility. In all the jobs I’ve held I always did the job that was asked of me the best I could and in my “extra” time sought after projects and skills that I aligned with what I wanted to do. 
  • Join or start a diversity, equity, and inclusion committee at work. Getting exposure to influencing an organization is priceless. I was chairing ButcherBox’s DEI committee before stepping into my current role and I was also involved in the company’s women’s employee resource group. I got involved in influencing the company to be a more diverse and inclusive place with the structure that was available to me. 

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

The ability to break down very complex problems and tackle one piece at a time while figuring out the best way to measure them, is very important in my day to day. 

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. 

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

Solving problems that are extremely complex and nuanced is the most rewarding, but also challenging part of my day to day. 

For a long time, the space of corporate social responsibility was primarily focused on good governance, corporate giving, and employee volunteering. What I love about social and environmental responsibility is how it can drive innovative thinking because you are forced to solve complex problems with constraints. For example, I’m working on a project right now to measure the carbon footprint of our shipping. I love that as you start to dig in and simply learn and measure—you discover so much opportunity and when you put the right metrics around your investigation you can identify really neat ways to do ROI calculations and make a business case for work that is really meaningful. 

Often times you are working on really complex problems and are taking very small steps at a time. This can make you feel like you are making no progress and making no change at all and when the work feels so urgent, this can be frustrating. To keep myself motivated, I do what I can to focus on making sure that I am taking some kind of action each day and believing that over time, there will be change. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Starting a company, SmoothieBox, and leading my small team. I was very proud of the team I built. We had a lot of trust, had a lot of fun, really supported each other, and helped each other grow. I am proud of the obstacles I had to overcome to get the business off the ground (had a manufacturer drop us in the middle of product development, had to work through a lot of staffing challenges, figured out the product from scratch and launched within 8 months—a ridiculous timeline). 

A close second, which is a combination of a personal and professional accomplishment, was the mentoring relationship I had with a student, who was the first in his family to go to college. We met because I was running a college preparation program. Early on in my relationship with this student, he was very closed off and not willing to share much of what was going on in school or at home, which made it difficult to do things such as assist him with writing his college essay. I did my best to be consistent and present and over time our trust grew. So much so that one year, he joined me and my friends for Thanksgiving dinner one year!

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

I volunteer with Tutoring Plus, which is one of the longest-running out-of-school time academic programs for Cambridge students. I tutor a 9th grader, which has really been testing my Spanish skills!


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Spending time outside—hiking, biking, rock climbing, kayaking.

How do you manage stress?

I spend as much time as I can outdoors to manage stress and center myself around my core values.

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

Just one!

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

Walden Pond. Based on my answers above, it should be no surprise that I love spending time outside. Walden Pond is an incredibly beautiful outdoor space, it is also one of my favorite places to swim locally. I feel at ease when I arrive there, it is just so peaceful.

Any book or podcast recommendations?

Patagonia’s The Responsible Company— It is an amazing book to learn about how to balance environmental responsibility while running a business.

I’m currently reading Braiding Sweetgrass and So You Want to Talk About Race and highly recommend both!

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?
While you're looking for jobs, don’t be afraid to talk with people at organizations you admire for informational interviews. Things internally don’t always match up with what you might see externally and it’s good to get a sense of those types of things before you accept a job offer!

About the
Company

Founded in 2015, ButcherBox™ began with a simple mission to make high-quality meat more accessible to all. The company soon discovered that meant more than delivering 100% grass-fed, grass-finished beef, free-range organic chicken, pork raised crate-free, and sustainably sourced seafood, it meant rethinking the country’s food system. ButcherBox is in pursuit of a better way, one that’s focused on animal welfare, supporting farmers, treating the planet with respect and upholding diversity, equity, and inclusion across its business.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Lynne Capozzi, Chief Marketing Officer at Acquia banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Lynne Capozzi, Chief Marketing Officer at Acquia

Open Jobs Company Page

Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Lynne Capozzi, CMO at Acquia.


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

I grew up in Tewksbury, Massachusetts and now live north of the city. I would describe myself as an athletic and social child. My parents instilled the importance of hardwork so I had jobs early on and that lesson has stayed with me throughout my career, helping me rise to the role of CMO. 

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

I attended Suffolk University where I studied business management. My first job out of college was working at a computer store running the training classes. 

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

I got my start doing classroom training on software, moved into a sales engineer role, and eventually joined marketing at Lotus Development where I found a passion for the field. I worked my way up to become a general manager of a product division and vice president of marketing at Lotus. After Lotus was acquired by IBM, I worked there for another two years before hitting the startup circuit. I ended my time at IBM as the vice president and general manager of the Internet Applications Division.

After IBM, I got bit by the startup bug again and served in a few chief marketing officer roles at Systinet, which was acquired by Mercury Interactive, and JackBe, which was acquired by Software AG, before coming to Acquia, first in 2008 and again in 2016.

Mine is a ricochet story with first joining Acquia in 2008, then leaving in 2011 to run a non- profit and returning in 2016.  While in my non-profit position, Acquia grew from a startup to a company with some 800 employees. Between my two-part tenure at Acquia, I observed many changes in the marketing technology world and was excited to learn that marketing was moving to be much more data-driven, especially with analytics tools and CRMs.

I came back to Acquia because I fell in love with the company again - everything from its culture to its people and the technology. The company’s needs had evolved and I felt I could make a significant impact with my passion and expertise for data and measurement. I have seen the role of the CMO change from a focus on creativity to data and technology tools and I think that moving forward there will be more consolidation in marketing, machine learning will play a major role in digital content marketing and we will find that digital transformation is more than a buzzword, especially in light of the pandemic. 

What is your current role and responsibilities?

As Acquia’s chief marketing officer, I oversee all global marketing functions including digital marketing, demand generation, operations, vertical strategy, analyst relations, content and corporate communications at the company.

Lynne Capozzi Acquia

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 actually thought I was going to be a lawyer.

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?

Set the goals, be diverse in what positions you take and put yourself in positions where you can experience different parts of marketing. I believe it’s important to have exposure to all of the marketing functions and various roles that make a marketing organization, and the entire company, successful. 

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

Leadership skills, financial planning and budgeting come top of mind, but also an understanding of all parts of marketing and sales, and how the two functions work together. We have shared goals with our sales organization to ensure that we are all working toward one common goal and are holding each other accountable. We’ve even gone as far as restructuring our kickoff to include the entire marketing department and have turned it into Sales and Marketing kickoff to help inspire both groups to achieve their goals. 

Also, compassion and a little bit of competitiveness in the role doesn’t hurt! 

Lynne Capozzi Acquia

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

Interesting/rewarding → the pace, variety, and changing market conditions. Growth in digital networking with other CMOs and learning from peers.

Most challenging → finding talent, growing talent, and once trained, how do you retain them? 

Explosion of marketing tools - finding right tech and the right people to use.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Being key member of exec team in former role where we sold company (prominent role, key exec member) 

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

Yes, I am heavily involved with a number of organizations that I care about and work to make a difference. I am a Trust Board Member at Boston Children’s Hospital, on the Advisory Board at Family Services of the Merrimack Valley, Chair of the Board of Directors at West Parish Garden Cemetery, and a Community Volunteer at Bellesini Academy. 


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Spending time with family, hiking, skiing, and running! 

How do you manage stress?

Working out and maintaining a positive attitude.

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

I typically pour about four cups a day but only end up drinking two of those.

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

Fenway Park 

Any book or podcast recommendations?  (professional or fun)

A good friend of mine and former Acquian, Tom Wentworth, has launched a podcast “Scaleup Marketing.” It’s a weekly podcast focused on B2B marketing at scale-up companies, covering the strategy and tactics it takes to win at $100m ARR and beyond. Definitely worth a listen!

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

I’m a big believer in doing internships while you’re in college. We have a great partnership with Northeastern’s Co-Op program that is not only extremely

beneficial for the college students to gain critical work experience, but has been a tremendous help for the various teams within our marketing organizations! 
Also, 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! 

About the
Company

Whether you are a dreamer, doer, maker or builder, we make it possible for every Acquian to thrive and make a lasting impact.

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24 Impressive Women Leaders in Tech banner image

24 Impressive Women Leaders in Tech

As part of our Lead(H)er series, we have had the great privilege of interviewing so many incredibly talented women who are founders or executives at some of the fastest growing companies in the vibrant startup scene.

They’ve told us about everything from the challenges, successes, and surprises of their careers to how many cups of coffee it takes to get through a day, so take a look at our list of the talented women we’ve spotlighted this year.


Jill Wiseman

“From childhood, my goal in life has always been to be successful. I’m extremely competitive and want to be #1 in anything I do, whether that’s sports, business, or anything else. I think that attitude could have taken me anywhere -- but I’ll be honest, I never thought I’d end up as a VP of Sales.”

Check out the full Article   View examity's Jobs


Carolyn Pampino Brightcove

“Bring your whole human to work. Create a psychologically safe work environment and set goals. Then trust your team to use their wisdom. Laugh. Celebrate. Cry if you have to, and watch how much more you get done together.”

Check out the full Article   View brightcove's Jobs


Bridget Gleason Tidelift

"This isn’t where I thought I would be professionally, but only because I didn’t give it a lot of thought. I have always sought out interesting and challenging positions with interesting and innovative companies. My goal remains the same: to do meaningful work with like-minded people who are trying to make a difference in the world. ”

Check out the full Article   View tidelift's Jobs


Suzy Peled CyberArk

“I grew with the company. I have many friends here who’ve been my friends for a seriously long time now. I believe there is such a thing as “the CyberArk DNA”, and that it sets us apart from other organizations. So looking at the Company, the way it keeps evolving, makes me very proud. I see the fingerprints of the many people I know and love on it, as well as my own.”

Check out the full Article   View cyberark's Jobs


Kim Simone Constant Contact

“Be committed to learning, work hard every day and be open to the opportunities that come your way. And don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. If you’re not making some mistakes, you’re probably not working hard enough. ”

Check out the full Article   View constant contact's Jobs


Potoula Chresomales Skillsoft

“Find something you’re passionate about. There’s nothing like getting up to go to work when your passion and work are aligned. Every day is a joy.”

Check out the full Article   View skillsoft's Jobs


Erica Smith CyberArk

“Persistence and hard work pay off.  Sometimes you need to take a few steps backward to move forward, don’t be discouraged.  Maintain strong relationships. Seek mentors.  Stay positive.”

Check out the full Article   View cyberark's Jobs


Nancy Liberman JRNI

“I’ve had the good fortune of being at a number of startups in their growth and pivot stages. Seeing that work capture the attention of a larger suitor and having that turn into some sort of merger & acquisition activity is a proud accomplishment.”

Check out the full Article   View jrni's Jobs


Heather Bentley Mimecast

“Don’t ever stop asking questions and always put yourself forward for opportunities that stretch you.  Don’t stay too long with one company- I probably made that mistake.  Moving around gives you different experiences and also makes you more well rounded."

Check out the full Article   View mimecast's Jobs


Bela Labovitch athenahealth

“Visualize where you would like to be and then work hard with a sense of optimism. It is important to enjoy your journey - if you are passionate and work hard but with ease, and help others along the way, there is a good chance you can achieve your career goals. Early in my career, I learned to take initiative, not let fear hold me back and that I didn’t need the title of a leader to be a leader.”

Check out the full Article   View athenahealth's Jobs


Nausheen Moulana Kyruus

“Share your career plan with people you trust. If you don’t have a personal board of advisors/mentors, it’s time to create one. Talk to them about what you want to accomplish. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help and support, you may benefit from their experience and avoid some missteps.  ”

Check out the full Article   View kyruus' Jobs


Cindy Stanton Rapid7

“I never viewed my career path as having definitive milestones and/or a linear progression.  Rather, I have always looked for a team of people I can enjoy and learn from and a challenge that I find interesting.”

Check out the full Article   View rapid7's Jobs


Joanne Wu CyberArk

“Whether you are looking at Business Development or not:  build up your network. Your network is an asset that will be with you for life; it will follow you wherever you go.  If you are in Business Development or Sales, it can be an essential asset to furthering your business. If you are not in Business Development, you will develop contacts and friendships that may last for life.”

Check out the full Article   View cyberark's Jobs


Jennifer Sartor Poppulo

“Hands down, my proudest moments are those where I’ve been able to contribute to the growth members of my team members, colleagues and mentees. Seeing them achieve career success is incredibly gratifying.”

Check out the full Article   View poppulo's Jobs


Laura Major Motional

“Follow your passion first and foremost and keep your eyes out for creative ways to align your passion with significant needs across society. ” 

Check out the full Article   View motional's Jobs


Melissa Herman Wellframe

“My proudest accomplishment has been the growth and success of Wellframe over the last 4 years.  When I initially joined the company, we had about 30 employees, and were seeing early traction in the market.  Three years later, in 2019, we started to experience amazing progress and recognition as the model started to come together.”

Check out the full Article   View wellframe's Jobs


Michelle Wong Jackpocket

“What I've learned over the years is to keep things in perspective. Your career isn't going to be built after landing one 'perfect' job, or conversely, ruined from one misstep. There's so much to learn from each and every opportunity you get, and you’ll come out of this challenging period even stronger and more resilient.”

Check out the full Article   View jackpocket's Jobs


Tzipi Avioz Mirakl

“The only clear vision of what I wanted my career to look like 10 or 20 years into the future was to do what I love. My view has always been, if I am enjoying it and passionate about what I can offer and what the role offers me, if I am challenged and learning – that's what I want to do.”

Check out the full Article   View mirakl's Jobs


Mary Beth Vassallo Nexthink

“The most rewarding work is developing my team, having them find personal and professional success.  Also, the value that Nexthink brings to our customers is incredibly rewarding, seeing external teams be able to tackle major challenges or have visibility where previously they were stuck guessing. I love hearing stories from our happy customers.”

Check out the full Article   View nexthink's Jobs


Jess Riley Pathai

“Keep focussed on what you want to ultimately achieve and don’t get distracted by opportunities that only have short term value. Be proactive about building the relationships and connections that you will inevitably need to get you there. Often you don’t get there on your own.” 

Check out the full Article   View pathai's Jobs


Jenny Kim DeSmyter SS&C Eze

“Being able to help/inspire/mentor others directly or indirectly is probably the most rewarding part of my job. There are different ways to find fulfillment in your career. I realized early on that it's rewarding to impact one individual's path at a time in my industry.”

Check out the full Article   View ss&c eze's Jobs


Jackie Hazan EditShare

“Never stop learning and don’t ask for permission. Too often I hear employees say they are waiting to be told they are ready to move up or waiting for permission to jump into a new project.”

Check out the full Article   View editshare's Jobs


Vinda Souza Bullhorn

“Focus on adding meaning to the world and pursuing what makes you happy and fulfilled, not following someone else’s dreams or trying to meet abstract expectations.”

Check out the full Article   View bullhorn's Jobs


Laura Tomaino HealthEdge

“My proudest professional accomplishment had been building the HealthEdge Human Resources function, from a box of loose leaf papers on my first day to a robust and engaged team that is recognized by its peers and external organizations as being innovative, supportive, thoughtful, and inquisitive about being an employer of choice.”

Check out the full Article   View healthedge's Jobs

Lead(H)er Profile - Jenny Kim DeSmyter, Managing Director, Sales Strategy at SS&C Eze banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Jenny Kim DeSmyter, Managing Director, Sales Strategy at SS&C Eze

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 Kim DeSmyter, Managing Director, Sales Strategy at SS&C Eze.


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

I was born in Seoul, South Korea. Our family moved around a lot due to my dad's job, so I went to pre-K in Belgium (French-speaking side), kindergarten through 4th grade in Holland, most of my middle school in Hong Kong, and high school in Beijing before moving to the U.S. to attend college. My parents tell me that I was determined and strong-willed even as a baby. I was quite outgoing as a child, which helped strengthen my ability to adjust to new challenges as we changed schools, countries, and even languages every few years. 

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

When I started college, my dad told me to choose a major I found interesting above all else because most college degrees won't help you in the corporate world. This was surprising advice from my dad because I expected him to push math/sciences/economics majors. With that in mind, I double majored in sociology and history at Duke University. 

Having grown up globally, I've always been interested in the impacts of globalization. During college, I lived in North Carolina and worked at the Social Science Research Institute, which focused on local groups and industries. I decided to combine my global perspective and local immersion for my honors thesis, focusing on globalization's impact on the once-dominant textile industry in North Carolina. 

After graduation, my first job was setting up FIX connections between clients and their trading destinations at SS&C Eze in our Boston office. FIX is an electronic communications protocol used globally to exchange real-time data related to securities transactions and markets. As predicted, my first job — and every subsequent role after that — had no relation to my majors. 

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

I've been in many different roles in my career, so it's difficult to pinpoint specific 'critical moments' that got me to where I am today. There have been so many! Some were a result of challenges, roadblocks, or perceived setbacks, while others may have been a fork in the road, where an important choice had to be made. I expect that, like any professional, I'll experience many more such 'critical moments' in the future. Regardless of these moments' frequency or size, I focus on the most important factor that got me this far. I relied on others' experiences and advice to help guide me or provide me with different perspectives.

As I mentioned, I started on the FIX setup team in Boston knew I ultimately wanted to be in NYC doing client-facing work, so I started having conversations with my managers to create a path that lined up with my goals. Within ten months, I had moved to NYC. I was on one of our consulting teams dealing directly with buy-side clients, running product implementations, upgrades, and overseeing the ongoing support and account management. In a few years, I was managing a team.

After managing a team for a few years, I was ready for a different challenge. The idea of pivoting from the path I had been on for years was daunting at first. I relied on a few of my mentors/closest friends — both at Eze and outside — and my dad to be sounding boards as I explored alternate options. They helped me articulate in my own words what I was looking for next, guiding me through the pros and cons and identifying both the risks and potential growth opportunities. Ultimately, I made a move into sales, working in business development with our clients. After a few years, I took on responsibility for running the North America region, where my team oversaw the most revenue. Until recently, I was in that role when I moved into my current role in running global sales strategy for SS&C Eze.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

As Managing Director, Head of Global Sales Strategy, I am involved in a number of strategic initiatives at SS&C Eze, including moving forward the sales plan and strategy for Eze Eclipse (our new cloud-native investment platform), coming up with pricing models, managing cross-sales programs with SS&C Technologies, and overseeing the revenue operations team. Also, I will often wear whatever other hats are required to help our organization, which can mean helping with client retention efforts or running sales training. 

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

I never dreamed I would be in my current role! I haven't had a position that was my "ultimate" goal for much of my career. I look at my growth in one- to two-year increments and from the viewpoint of what skills I want to nurture, grow, and gain. I also go through talking about these goals with my closest mentors to ensure I don't have any blind spots. This has allowed me to be driven and flexible to take on new or unforeseen challenges and, most importantly, to learn and grow along the way. 

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?

Regardless of what position you want to be in next or in the future, always focus on what you can control: your work, your growth, your attitude, and your overall value. I've always kept my focus on the year or two ahead and compete with the previous version of myself. Being too focused on a specific position can keep you from exploring other, sometimes better, opportunities all around you. This is all easier said than done, but these are the things that quiet the ever-present distractions. The best way to win people over and be chosen for the next big project, task, opportunity, or position is to consistently step up to the plate, prove your value through hard work, and be a positive force. 

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

My job requires a combination of hard skills and a lot of soft skills refinement to do well. In my current role, it is especially important to stay extremely organized and manage my time effectively. Being involved in multiple strategic initiatives, trying to help where I can in other small and larger projects, being available for employees/colleagues/mentees, and finding time to meet clients and industry contacts — can be a bit overwhelming at times. To keep a balance, I rely on other tools I've gained throughout my career:  communicating more to set/reset priorities and deadlines, collaborating with others to get assistance or advice, being willing to say "no" sometimes, etc. 

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

Most Rewarding: Being able to help/inspire/mentor others directly or indirectly is probably the most rewarding part of my job. There are different ways to find fulfillment in your career. I realized early on that it's rewarding to impact one individual's path at a time in my industry. Especially in an industry that doesn't always feel inviting for various reasons, there is nothing more rewarding than having had the honor to play even a small part in exceptional professionals' growth. 

Most Interesting: Most of my responsibilities require a forward-looking perspective on our business and often require strong collaboration with leaders of other parts of the business. Getting to work more closely with other leaders to discuss our various initiatives, plans, and challenges have been most interesting in my current role. Having more insights into a wider group of employees and business units gives me more exposure to other leadership styles and approaches. 

Most Challenging: I'm not sure that there is a part of my work that is "most" challenging. Different challenges present themselves depending on the task. Throughout my career, managing my internal dialogue has, at times, been the biggest challenge. For example, competing with myself has been a great driver for my entire life, but it can be exhausting! I need to remind myself to take moments to be happy with what I have completed instead of immediately looking down to the next thing on my to-do list. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

I'm not sure that I can pinpoint a single professional accomplishment as my proudest.

Instead, I'll share one of the first times I truly felt pride in my career: 

I went back to Korea to visit my parents and brother shortly after I'd been promoted to manage a consulting team, and I ended up using a decent part of my bonus to buy each of them something meaningful and treated them to a couple of fancy family dinners. I could feel how proud they all were of me, and I knew that I was doing something right. We don't progress in life or our careers on our own. I am grateful every day for my family, friends, and mentors to help me get here. Showing gratitude in small ways, sometimes just by saying thank you to my family, friends, and mentors, makes me proud. 

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

I unofficially mentor my friends' and clients' children whenever I am asked because I love mentoring people. My husband and I also try to support charitable organizations whose missions we support. We're particularly big fans of South Bronx United, which uses soccer to engage immigrant and first-generation youth. We also support the broader South Bronx community and the North Shore Animal League, the world's largest, most comprehensive no-kill rescue and adoption organization.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love cooking, working out, running, playing sports outside, and spending time with my husband and friends. During the pandemic, I've also been learning to paint, have watched more T.V. than I thought possible, and have tried to stay connected to friends and family as much as technology and social distancing allow.

How do you manage stress?

My formula is quite simple; the hardest part is making sure I stick to it. 

     #1 - Exercise at least 5 times a week.

    #2 - Wine. 

    #3 - Slightly contradicting #2 - Don't eat or drink too much. 

    #4 - Sleep 7-8 hours a night (near impossible). 

During the pandemic, I've also added: get outside at least a couple of times a day to get fresh air.

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

At least one but often 2 or 3.

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

Central Park. I used to live nearby and ran the park 3-5 times a week before I moved to Brooklyn. I still love going to the park and almost forgetting that I am in NYC. 

Any book or podcast recommendations?

I listen to a lot of podcasts. In response to my asking him to be quieter because I was listening to a podcast, my husband said, "You are always listening to a podcast!"

It was tough to choose, but below are my top 5 in no particular order- 

  • Reply All 

  • Smartless 

  • Fake Doctors Real Friends

  • How Did This Get Made

  • Heavyweight

This question is reminding me that I need to get back to reading more… 

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Study what you feel passionate about — not what you think you should study — unless, of course, you need prerequisites for a specific profession! If you want to be in the corporate world, you'll learn everything you need to do well on the job. I offer the same advice for finding your first job — don't just follow everyone else. Be open-minded and take some chances. I didn't think I'd end up at a company like SS&C Eze. I had no idea what FIX even was when I started! I liked the culture and the possibility to move into different roles within or outside the company in the future. Here I am, 13+ years later, still feeling challenged and learning more every day!

About the
Company

SS&C Eze works at the cutting edge of technology to deliver integrated, innovative investment management solutions, and we'll partner with you as a platform for growth. 

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Lead(H)er Profile - Jackie Hazan, VP of People Ops at EditShare banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Jackie Hazan, VP of People Ops at EditShare

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Jackie HazanVP of People Ops at EditShare.


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

I grew up in the suburbs of Boston. I would describe myself as an introverted and creative child. I loved working on the set and lighting design of my school plays, and had a tight group of friends that I’m still close with today.

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

I studied English and Philosophy in college. My grandfather regularly told all 21 of his grandchildren that anyone could succeed in life if they could write well and think critically. That guidance shaped my decision to pursue an English and Philosophy degree at Boston University. With no sage guidance on how to translate the ability to write well and think critically into a career path, I found myself with no idea of ‘what I wanted to be when I grew up’ as graduation neared. At the encouragement of a counselor, I developed an elevator pitch that translated my retail sales experience to recruitment. I was very lucky to land an internship in HR at the Museum of Science right here in Boston my senior year. I fell in love with the museum, the HR team and the field. My very first job out of school was at the BBC as an HR Assistant. I was part of a small team in a growing organization. When I joined there were only around 100 employees in the US and over four years we grew the business to over 500 employees in the US, Canada and Latin America. Being part of such a small and nimble team in a high growth environment jump started my own career. I was thrown into projects and gained experience at an accelerated pace and built relationships that are still strong today.
 

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

Most of my professional life was in NYC. I started at BBC Worldwide Americas, spent several years at NYU both as a masters student and an employee, and rejoined the media world as an HR Director with NBC Universal before moving to EditShare. Critical moments for me are really a reflection of inspirational leaders who touched my life. At BBC and NBC I had strong leaders to learn from and who were willing to take a risk on me in terms of the assignments and opportunities I was given. They drove strong accountability and standards and in many ways have shaped both the professional and leader that I am today.

Jackie Hazan EditShare

What is your current role and responsibilities?

In my current role, I am the VP of People Operations for Editshare. I lead the global HR function, serve as a strategic partner and a change agent. As an organization, we have gone through incredible transformation and growth over the past year while building a strong culture and value set.

Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally?

My career goals and aspirations have changed over time. Early in my career I would not say that I had a well defined plan. My enjoyment of learning and doing new things drove my desire to take on new challenges and expand. Over time and with introspection I realized that I was passionate about global work with organizations for which I felt strong values alignment and could get behind their ‘why’. My goal for the past several years has been to continue learning and doing new things within a global and growing organization.

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?

Never stop learning and don’t ask for permission. Too often I hear employees say they are waiting to be told they are ready to move up or waiting for permission to jump into a new project. 

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

Empathy 

What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work? 

I love helping people. It is so rewarding to work through a challenge with someone and to see them breakthrough and succeed. Equally it is incredibly challenging to work through people’s emotions and perceptions. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

My proudest professional accomplishment is the team and culture that I have built here at EditShare.

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

I’m involved with SHRM, recently joined WICT.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Hiking, skiing, cooking, and traveling.

How do you manage stress?

Working out and spending quality time with my family are fantastic ways for me to relieve stress.

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

Bottomless!

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

WW1 Memorial Park in North Attleborough is fantastic. It's a beautiful park with playgrounds, animals and grills. 

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

Homegoing was a powerful read

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Identifying your passion early on is a powerful way to accelerate career growth. We run an early career development program at EditShare that challenges participants to identify their strengths and passions. We find that at the intersection of strength and passion we often see high performance, faster career growth and deep engagement/satisfaction. It’s a great way to own your career growth from your very first role.

About the
Company

EditShare exists to simplify storytelling. 

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Lead(H)er Profile - Vinda Souza, VP of Global Communications at Bullhorn banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Vinda Souza, VP of Global Communications at Bullhorn

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Vinda Souza, VP of Global Communications at Bullhorn.


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

I grew up in Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia, a beautiful beachside community owned by ARAMCO, exclusively created for its employees and their dependents from around the world. My father was a petrochemical engineer for ARAMCO for 20 years, and I was born and raised in Ras Tanura until the age of 15. It was an idyllic childhood that I didn’t realize at the time was completely unlike almost anyone else’s. I absolutely loved it. 

As a child, I was really outgoing and liked to be the life of the party, but I was also a voracious reader. There wasn’t much TV in Saudi Arabia at that time so I spent all my free time reading. I would camp out at the school library for hours at a time and after reading every Newbery award-winning book that existed by the age of 7 I moved onto classical literature. Unsurprisingly, I needed glasses at a pretty early age. 

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

I went to Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts and I double-majored in English and French, with a minor in Communications and Media Studies. That was a great and fun decision because I had always been completely passionate about English - I never considered majoring in anything else - and I studied abroad in Paris my junior year (one of the best decisions of my entire life) so it was easy to add on the French major as I had completed substantial coursework to enroll in Tufts-in-Paris and participate in the program. I was realistic about my prospects for finding a job with an English degree, though it never deterred me from studying it, so I minored in CMS to try to get exposure in public relations, which I had long been fascinated by - a more profitable and opinionated alternative to journalism. I completed eight PR internships while at Tufts, all acquired completely on my own accord (I love Tufts but I wouldn’t say job placement is where they excel), and landed a job at Cone Communications upon graduation doing cause-related marketing and branding. It was fun but non-profit PR isn’t really as altruistic as people imagine, and I found myself longing to be surrounded by people who were smart and a bit more realistic about what PR could and could not achieve, so I applied for a job at fama PR - a high-tech boutique PR firm in Boston - and stayed there for five years.

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

My internships solidified what I wanted out of a career (and that glamorous appearances can be deceiving), but working at fama really shaped who I was going to be as a PR professional. I don’t really trust PR people who have never spent a good amount of time working at an agency - it’s like a chef who hasn’t worked her way up the ladder from the really thankless jobs in a hot and frantic restaurant kitchen. If you haven’t had the door slammed in your face by hundreds of reporters or learned how to crank out dozens of pitches a day, how can you claim to understand PR? It becomes a physical reflex at some point - that ability to just be on your grind constantly. Good PR people are very client-focused, as we have to be, which means all of our emails are polite and effusive, we can’t help but respond to any sort of communication within five minutes, and we are amazing at balancing multiple priorities at once. We don’t easily succumb to pressure because the panic reflex has been beaten out of us.

That being said, after five years in an agency, though I rose up the ladder quickly and loved it, I realized I didn’t want to keep focusing on six clients at a time. I wanted to focus on just one, very deeply, and move client-side. It was a hard choice to leave fama; fama was fun and exciting and comfortable for me, but in agency PR it’s a lot of mile-wide, inch-deep work, and I wanted to try going a mile deep. I applied to Bullhorn, because I loved the company and the people and thought it seemed like a fabulous place to work, and I also applied to an advertising technology company called DataXu. The DataXu job offer came in a day earlier than the Bullhorn job offer and for slightly more money, so I took it. I knew in the back of my mind that I was making a mistake but I took the DataXu job anyway. I was coin-operated and it backfired. The DataXu job was interesting, the people were incredibly smart, and the industry was complex and fascinating, but it was not a fit for me. I won’t go into details but let’s just say that I have never managed anyone the way I was managed there, and it has served me well.

Eight months into the DataXu job I emailed Art Papas and said “remember that job you offered me that I didn’t take? That was a mistake. Can I just come to Bullhorn and make coffee for you or something? Can I do literally anything but just be employed there?” Art, Andrew Hally, and Doug Ellinger at Bullhorn were incredibly gracious and brought me on board to run marketing for theFIT, a psychographic job profiling solution. That first day walking into the office and tackling my first project - to create a persona of who theFIT was - still ranks as one of the most enjoyable times in my career. And being mentored by Art in those earlier days was such a treat; he could have asked me to walk into traffic for him and I would have. Thankfully he did not and I’ve been at Bullhorn for almost nine years, working my way up from Marketing Manager to Vice President of Global Communications.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I’m the Vice President of Global Communications but that’s a fancy way of confusing people. What it actually means is that I run global public relations, analyst relations, content marketing, social media, industry marketing, global thought leadership, events strategy and content, and customer marketing. You could roll those functions up into any number of cohesive terms, like corporate marketing, brand marketing, or more, but “global communications” makes sense because it’s an elegant way of saying “words and stories - she does a lot of things involving words and stories.” And I manage an amazing team of people who also do many things with words and stories.

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

Yes. That’s a boring response but from the very first internship I did at Merrill Lynch in Houston - an internship my college counseling service told me I didn’t have a shot at getting because I was a rising sophomore - I knew I wanted to do PR for a company with a brand I really respected. And while I’ve expanded my role to do much more than PR, creating a compelling narrative that resonates with the person or people I’m trying to reach is still intrinsic to my DNA. I was laser-focused on making sure I graduated with a job and steadily advanced in pursuing my personal ambitions and doing the type of work I wanted to do and found interesting. I could have taken a number of jobs that would be more financially lucrative but my father always taught me that people who chase money are miserable people. You should always strive to be the best at what you do, at what you care about and are passionate about, and money and accolades will follow eventually if you’re not self-delusional about your own talent.

Vinda Souza Bullhorn

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?

Identify what you actually want and what ignites your intellectual passion and don’t fight it. I was a championship debater all through high school and college and people always told me I should be a lawyer because so many successful debaters follow that path. I have no passion for the law. Why would I pursue it as a career? Because it pays well? Because it’s expected? I get paid well now and I’m actually doing something I enjoy. And I didn’t have to go to law school or take the bar exam.

I gave a lecture to a group of impending graduates at Tufts a few years ago and assured them that doing what’s expected of you is a waste of mental energy and promise. Don’t be ashamed of pursuing your own dream and don’t let other people distract you from it. 

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

The best communications executives are strategic and really understand their companies’ broad-ranging business goals, their customers’ mindsets and priorities, the products and solutions their companies and competitors provide, and the long-term projected trajectory of their industries. If all you want to do as a PR pro is pitch media, then that’s all you’ll do. Really understanding the nuts and bolts of a business and industry and being fluent in articulating where an industry is going are critical to effectively advancing a narrative in-market.

I’d say the most important skills are communicating across roles and cultures, strategic thinking, a willingness to do whatever it takes to get a job done, trusting your instincts for what will resonate and what will backfire, realism, and excellent grammar. You might laugh at the last one but I never take an email seriously that has a series of grammar mistakes, so why would anyone else?

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

I love the breadth of my job, especially the analyst relations and industry marketing components of it. I love convincing people who already understand an industry or subject of what the future might look like. The most fun I’ve ever had at Bullhorn was successfully working to get us on the Gartner Magic Quadrant back in 2015 - it involved hours and hours of conversations with analysts and it just brought out the simultaneous research wonk and debate show-woman in me. 

The most challenging part of the job is holding my tongue, which I imagine plenty of people say I don’t do well anyway. When I have an opinion I instinctively want to share it, but it’s not always appropriate to do so and if a decision is multilateral then I need to respectfully defer to a group or “client,” be that a colleague or a key stakeholder. I was taught to challenge someone twice on a strategy that I think is wrong, but if the client or stakeholder still wants to proceed after I’ve warned them two times, I shut up and do what I’m being asked to do. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Being promoted to Vice President a year after having my first daughter, getting us on the Gartner Magic Quadrant (the press release for which I wrote as I started labor), and taking maternity leave, mainly because the promotion was very unexpected. I had no idea I was being considered for such a role. And then to keep advancing in my career while having another child made me feel like while working mothers can’t necessarily have it all, they can furiously try, which is essentially what I’ve been doing since becoming a mom - just furiously trying not to screw up something or the other.

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

I’m on the Leadership Board of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and I serve on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Staffing Association. I volunteer in my community of Weston, MA on the board of the Friends of the Weston Public Library and I’m active in my children’s school activities. 


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In the COVID era my free time is spent reading and watching the news and getting scared by it, but normally I spend my downtime singing. I’m part of a band called Stampede that consists of Bullhorn employees, including Art Papas, Matt Fischer, Mitesh Ashar, and Alex Reinert. That’s a huge source of stress relief and I’m sad we haven’t been able to get together and play music in so long.

How do you manage stress?

Not particularly well, because when you have a job and outside responsibilities and young children, there is no stress-free time except for maybe 9-10 pm a few days a week, during which I watch the news and get stressed out again. Singing for other people is a great stress reliever when I can feasibly do it. I also listen to an unhealthy amount of Depeche Mode (mainly the Alan Wilder years, when they were at their peak). 

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

Right now, zero, but usually one or two cups a day. I struggle with insomnia so I don’t lean too heavily on the caffeine or it will fight back hard.

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

I could eat at Menton, one of Barbara Lynch’s Boston restaurants in Fort Point, every day for the rest of my life if the pandemic was over, I had five hours to spend at dinner, and I didn’t mind gaining copious amounts of weight. 

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

I don’t read a lot of contemporary literature because I’m no fun, but my favorite books, in general, are The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and A Night of Serious Drinking by Rene Daumal. I don’t listen to podcasts frequently but I’ll plug “Take It from the Top” on the Recruitment Innovation Exchange (RIX): http://recruitmentix.com/

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Focus on adding meaning to the world and pursuing what makes you happy and fulfilled, not following someone else’s dreams or trying to meet abstract expectations.

About the
Company

At Bullhorn, we’re transforming the way businesses create an incredible customer experience.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Laura Tomaino, VP of People and Culture at HealthEdge banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Laura Tomaino, VP of People and Culture at HealthEdge

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Laura Tomaino, VP of People and Culture at HealthEdge.


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

I grew up in Massachusetts, then moved to Vermont when I was 11 years old. I am told I was a shy but determined, inquisitive, and well behaved child. I remembering wanting to be involved in things and make a difference and help others. I believed this desire to help sparked my interest in HR.

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

In college, I remained undecided until late into my sophomore year when I finally declared business management my major.  Due to an internship in Human Resources the summer before I also committed to doing a minor in “Human Relations and Work”. My first job out of college was a Human Resources Representative/Executive Assistant at Dartmouth College working directly for our CHRO and supporting her calendar and pet project initiatives.

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

After leaving Dartmouth I moved to Boston and worked in HR at Harvard University. While at Harvard I held two distinct generalist positions which gave me wonderful opportunities to learn from many different people and on many topics. After 6 years, I wanted to try something new and seized a risky but great opportunity to join a startup called HealthEdge. It was here that I experienced tremendous career growth due to the opportunity to build out the department from scratch. The most critical moment in my career was when I requested time with our new CEO at HealthEdge and was able to lift the HR function from compliance/ perfunctory to strategic. By the end of that meeting, we made a commitment to build a company and focus our leadership around being an employer of choice. I am still at HealthEdge learning and growing as we take on the new exciting challenge of being PE-backed and acquiring companies ourselves.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I am the VP of People and Culture at HealthEdge. I am surrounded by an amazing team of HR and TA professionals. Overall we drive the organizations focus on employee engagement and ensure our practices support our goal of being an employer of choice. I personally partner across the organization doing strategic workforce planning, nurturing our organization's talent, helping build resilient and high performing teams, and M&A.

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

Yes, I think so. As a kid, I knew I wanted to end up doing something where I could help people.  Today I spend a lot of time trying to build strong teams and solve the puzzle of how best to motivate and engage our people to take on our newest challenges. I find this work very gratifying.

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?

Join SHRM, and NEHRA, learn about employment law and listen to your instincts. I am also a big believer in learning more about your weaknesses and how to build upon your strengths. When you get an opportunity to build a team around you hire people that inspire you and that you can learn from (not just lead).

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

Empathy, Courage, Business Acumen, Resilience  

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

My favorite thing, or the thing I find most interesting about my work is interviewing candidates for open positions, I love unlocking what makes them tick and identifying not just how their skills match the open position but also who they are and what their style is. One of the most challenging opportunities I face is supporting and coaching teams through change. While change is constant it can still be very hard to work through and it is important to go slow and listen.  

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

My proudest professional accomplishment had been building the HealthEdge Human Resources function, from a box of loose leaf papers on my first day to a robust and engaged team that is recognized by its peers and external organizations as being innovative, supportive, thoughtful, and inquisitive about being an employer of choice.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Getting outside – hiking, boating, playing with my kids

Listening to podcasts, audible, or TedTalks – I am a nerd. I also enjoy keeping my sourdough alive and baking for my friends and family.

How do you manage stress?

When I am passionate about something I dive in and can easily lose track of time. Time eludes me and being overcommitted is typically the cause of my stress. To manage that stress I make lists and just start. I value productivity and so the momentum from starting typically gets me out of the stress funk. It is also really helpful to remind myself of all the great people around me (my family or team at work) that are ready to help.

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?
0 before kids – as many as I need now 😊

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

My favorite spot in Boston is the North End. The pasta, the desserts, the culture, and celebrations!

Any book or podcast recommendations? 
My favorite business book is “Go Giver” by John David Mann & Bob Burg

My favorite podcasts right now are “Unlocking Us” with Brene Brown AND Adam Grants “Worklife”. 

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?
Be patient with your career. Focus on being really good at the job you are in. When you have your work well managed and all is going well ask your boss what you can do to help take something off his/her plate- this will give you insight into what might be next and position you well for advancement.

About the
Company

HealthEdge is an innovative software company that provides the only integrated financial, administrative and clinical software platform for healthcare payors.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Jennifer Sartor, Head of Product Marketing at Poppulo banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Jennifer Sartor, Head of Product Marketing at Poppulo

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Jennifer Sartor, Head of Product Marketing at Poppulo.


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

I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. I was a quiet kid, a reader and a thinker. When I was a baby, my parents put in an inground pool and so I learned to swim before I could walk. To this day, my happy place is in the water. My father was a central banker with the Federal Reserve and when I was 12 he had the opportunity to travel to the Sultanate of Oman to rewrite their banking policies. He brought my mom, sister and me with him and we spent 3 months immersing ourselves in the ancient and fascinating culture of Oman. On our way home, we explored Europe by train. This once-in-a-lifetime experience forever expanded my perspective on the world, opening my eyes to its remarkable beauty and diversity.

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

I double majored in English and Political Science at the University of Rochester and parlayed my writing skills to land a marketing internship with a local transportation engineering firm. Though I didn’t have a technical background, I was fascinated by the firm’s experience building roads and bridges and enjoyed helping them win new projects by bringing their experience to life in the proposals that I wrote.

I leveraged this internship to land my first full-time marketing job with a small New York City structural engineering firm that had engineered the St. Louis Gateway Arch, Madison Square Garden, the Seagram Building and countless other historic structures. 

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

After several years in NYC, I headed north to Boston. Fueled by childhood dreams of being a writer, I tried my hand as an editor of early education textbooks. Though I was honing my writing and editing skills, I missed the faster pace of the business world. It was the early days of the internet and I caught the tech bug when I joined a geographic information systems (GIS) software firm in Cambridge. Living in Boston, higher ed is huge and I eventually decided to pursue my MBA, choosing Babson College’s program for its strength in entrepreneurship. After earning my degree, I dove head first into the internet economy, landing a market strategy role with internet backbone provider Genuity. I loved researching and advising the business on new market opportunities. When the dot com bubble burst, I earned my project management professional (PMP) certification and combined my market strategy and project management skills at MultiPlan, where I helped launch new products. Next up I dove into a product management role at Monster, developing career tools for job seekers. It was a turning point when I saw the positive impact my work could make for real people. I fell into my first product marketing role at Workhuman (then Globoforce), where I marketed SaaS employee recognition solutions to HR buyers. This led to leadership roles in product marketing and demand generation at Virgin Pulse, a SaaS employee wellbeing solution provider, and ultimately to my current role with Poppulo. 

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I now lead product marketing for Poppulo, an employee communications software provider. After many years marketing employee programs aimed at helping people and businesses thrive, I had seen firsthand how the success or failure of these programs rested on how well they were communicated to employees. It’s a noisy world, fast-changing world and leaders are struggling to get through to their employees. At Poppulo, I’m thrilled to be helping leaders at many of the world’s leading employers cut through this noise and create the clarity each employee needs to embrace change and drive business results.

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’re interested in becoming a product marketer there are many paths you can take. Look for roles that get you close to the buyer. Study other players in your market, including competitors, influencers and partners. Work on your writing and communication skills. 

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

As a product marketer, it’s essential to have empathy for your buyers. Successful product marketers are resourceful problem solvers, skilled communicators and natural connectors. They’re both analytical and creative.

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

There’s no better way to understand a market or a company than from the vantage point of a product marketer. I love working at the intersection of product management, sales and customer success to deliver solutions that meet the needs of our customers. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Hands down, my proudest moments are those where I’ve been able to contribute to the growth members of my team members, colleagues and mentees. Seeing them achieve career success is incredibly gratifying.

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

I’m a member of the Product Marketing Alliance, which has some useful templates and a Slack channel that gives me direct access to the collective wisdom of a large network of product marketers. As a Babson College MBA alum, I’ve also enjoyed volunteering as a mentor and coach to some impressive students.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love to swim, read, bake and hang out with my husband and kids, Broderick (18) and Claire (13).

How do you manage stress?

The key for me is sleep and exercise. A nap, a walk or some laps in the pool usually do the trick. But when life gets overwhelming, guided meditation has been a game changer for me. List-making also works for me. At the end of each work day, I write out my to-do list for the next day to help free my mind until the next morning.

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

I’m a tea drinker -- Earl Grey every morning.

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

These days I love a stroll along the Assabet River in my town of Hudson, MA and, because once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker, when I’m back in NYC you’ll find me on the move walking anywhere and everywhere to take in the city’s irresistible energy.

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

With neighborhood walks one of the few safe ways to get out of the house lately, I’ve been enjoying podcasts while I stroll. A few favorites include How I Built This, This American Life, The Bigger Narrative and The Daily.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

A good network is critical to your career trajectory so the advice I often give to new college grads is to learn how to network well -- ask lots of questions, listen, learn and, most importantly, give before you expect to receive. Every organization needs good writers so work on your writing. How do you do that? Good writers are good readers. Read everything you can get your hand on. And just write. Start a blog. Volunteer to write for professional associations or your school’s alumni association.

About the
Company

Poppulo is the global leader in employee communications technology.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Laura Major, Chief Technology Officer at Motional banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Laura Major, Chief Technology Officer at Motional

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Laura Major, Chief Technology Officer at Motional.


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

I grew up in Naples, Florida.  My parents would’ve politely described me as “curious” (I asked a lot of questions), and my friends would’ve called me competitive.  I was heavily involved in sports, and played basketball, volleyball and fast-pitch softball.

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

From a young age, I was interested in STEM.  I was drawn to space and then robotics.  Specifically I developed an interest in how to bring autonomous systems, or robots - unmanned aerial vehicles or ground robots - more naturally into our daily lives.  

For my undergraduate, this led me to Georgia Tech’s Industrial and Systems Engineering program, where I studied under Professor Amy Pritchett, a world-leading expert in aerospace engineering, and a pioneer in human-robot interaction. This cemented, but didn’t satiate my curiosity - so I then went on to the Aeronautics and Astronautics department at MIT, where I focused on human and autonomous design in air transportation systems. 

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’s most frightening, most uncertain moments have also been its most defining.  Two moments come to mind - the moment I became a mom, and the moment I became an aspiring writer.

My children are today, 7 and 4.  If you’ve come within 100 feet of a toddler, you’re probably doing the math and wincing as you realize that meant I had an infant, a threenager, and a big full-time job. I love nothing more than being a mom - but it’s hard.  Especially when you’re a young, female leader in a male-dominated field.

Laura Major Motionak

I was at a peak in my career; I had established a new technical team and developed a research program to change the way information is gathered and shared across many national security applications.  But I made the tough decision to temporarily step back and give myself time to focus on my family.  I moved to a three-day week, left my role building and leading a big technical team, and shifted to a commercially-focused role shaping new opportunities with DARPA.  It was risky, it was different, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  That role forced me out of my comfort zone.  It taught me strategy, business and communications skills that opened doors I’d walk through shortly afterwards, and become the CTO of Motional.

The second defining moment was an invitation to speak at an elite small gathering of the world’s foremost experts in robotics, automation and machine learning, called MARS.  This isn’t the kind of presentation you throw together on the flight over - no, it’s the kind of presentation you spend weeks or months preparing for.  And I did.  And as I did, I realized I had a lot more to say - about a book’s worth.  That book comes out in a month, and I had not taken on the truly terrifying challenge of speaking in front of the heroes in my field, I’m not sure it would exist.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I’m the Chief Technology Officer at Motional.  I lead a team of hundreds, and all of the engineering and technical program management that’s required to make self-driving cars a reality.

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

I always imagined myself leading large teams and making an impact on the world.  I just didn’t know where or how. There was one engineer in my family, my great uncle.  He was a civil engineer and all that I knew about engineering, until I went to college, I learned from him.  He had a major impact in the housing industry, by inventing the Gang-Nail connector plate and then launching an international business.  Though I quickly learned I didn’t share his passion for civil engineering, he inspired me to pursue engineering as an avenue to make a significant positive impact on the world.

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

To be successful in developing a first-of-its-kind technology, you need to focus on three critical areas: building and empowering a strong team, defining and continually refining an inspiring vision for the technology roadmap and solution, and honing strong problem-solving skills to see you through the many challenges you’ll face as a leader.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I spend all of my free time with my two kids.  I love being present with them and exploring their interests.  We read, we hike, we swim, we see friends, and we generally have fun. In the evenings between my meetings in the US and my late-night teleconferences with our teams in Asia, you’ll often find me on the floor building legos with my 7 year-old or at the kid-sized art table working on a project with my 4-year-old.

Laura Major Motiona;

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

I try to stop at two.  But if I’ve had a sleepless night because of work stress or sick child, I’ll allow myself a third.

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

I’ve fallen for Cape Cod.  I spend most of my time in the city and I enjoy the energy and access to so many activities and amazing people.  But escapes to Brewster and Chatham have been good for my soul.  There’s tremendous natural beauty, and such diversity from the crashing waves and severe sand dunes on the ocean side, to the mile long low tide revealing interesting sea creatures on the bayside. We’ve discovered breathtaking hikes, taken up water sports - and it’s all less than two hours from our house in Boston.  

Any book or podcast recommendations? 
 
Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Follow your passion first and foremost and keep your eyes out for creative ways to align your passion with significant needs across society. 

About the
Company

Motional is making driverless vehicles a safe, reliable, and accessible reality.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Melissa Herman, Chief Financial Officer at Wellframe banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Melissa Herman, Chief Financial Officer at Wellframe

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Melissa Herman, Chief Financial Officer at Wellframe.


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

I grew up in South Jersey, and was a true child of the 80s that was obsessed with reading encyclopedias, acting out WWF moves, and taking long bike rides until the sun went down. At 11, I secured my first job by convincing my neighbor to give me his paper route.  When I was 16, I took a job at a local market.  A year later, not only did I know how to make some of the best hoagies in the Philadelphia area, I was promoted to shift leader and trusted with the keys to the safe. Thinking back now, my excitement over holding those keys should have been a sign that I was destined for a finance career!

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

I studied Economics at Rutgers University, and had secured a full time job in a stockbroker apprentice program in the NYC suburbs.  In my first year, we experienced a recession and 9/11.  It was a difficult time for the markets, and a sensitive time to prospect for new clients.  We were a small regional firm, and we pivoted to use our time and cold calling skills to plan and publicize a fundraising event to benefit first responders, and to source necessary supplies for the K-9 units at Ground Zero.  This experience was my first exposure to the positive impact that companies can make in their communities, and that has stayed with me, 20 years later.

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

After my first year in sales, I transitioned into a client services role at an online trading platform startup based in Jersey City.  I loved the job, and the technology focus of the company, but in my second month they announced that they were being acquired.  Rather than start a third job in the NYC area, I used my severance pay to move to Phoenix, which was experiencing rapid growth.  Once settled, I enrolled in an evening Masters program at Arizona State, which opened the door for me to transition from financial services to an FP&A analyst role at Intel. Intel took me from Phoenix to San Francisco, and right before the 2008 crisis, I started a 6 year stint at Riverbed Technology, a network optimization company well positioned for the recession.

Halfway through my time at Riverbed, I relocated to Cambridge, and had the opportunity to lead finance for our fastest growing business units.  The business units were born out of multiple acquisitions, including one for $1B, and I learned a lot from the entrepreneurs on those teams.

In 2014, after a decade of working for publicly traded companies based on the West Coast, I returned to the startup world. I joined ObserveIT, a cybersecurity software company originally headquartered in Tel Aviv, and then Iora Health, a primary care provider based in Boston.  My transition to healthcare in 2016 was another key shift.  Wellframe’s mission has been a great fit for me - I love applying my prior experience from early stage companies and the technology world to help people get the care and support they need, when and where they need it.  

Melissa Herman Wellframe

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I am currently the Chief Financial Officer at Wellframe, and responsible for Finance, Accounting, Business Operations, People and Culture, IT / Security, and Legal / Compliance.  When I initially joined the company, many of our administrative functions were outsourced, so I have been blessed with the opportunity to build a high performing team from scratch.

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

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a crossing guard, then a veterinarian, and then Jerry McGuire.  I initially started college as a sports management major, but transitioned over to Economics during my sophomore year.  Once I started in my first FP&A role at Intel, I knew I had found what I wanted to do for the rest of my career.  As I made a series of moves to progressively smaller companies, I was able to take on larger roles in Finance, and eventually bridge out into other related areas - first Sales Operations, then Accounting, then HR, and then all other administrative and compliance functions.  I had always had a goal of solving challenging problems and helping others, but I didn’t find my path until 4 years into my career.

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?

Build a great team of experts, and then trust them to do their jobs.  I would also emphasize the importance of the first hire that you make at a new company.  At two of my startups, I was pregnant when I joined the company, and I knew that my first hire would not only need to learn the company quickly, but also cover parts of my role within the next 6 months.  In both cases, I looked for someone who had the right experience, but also the comfort and desire to take on ownership.  The first few members of your team are the core of your future organization.

An emerging finance leader should also trust their experience and instincts.  While you may not be an operational expert in every area, you know more than you think you do - and if you are open to doing the work to learn and fill in the gaps, you can easily add value.

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

In order to do a finance job well, I would recommend that you focus on adaptability, relationship building and quality of analysis. If your finance career takes you to an early stage company, I would suggest also focusing on grit, talent assessment and confidence.  At smaller companies, the finance role can blend into other operational areas, and it is important to be able to source reliable data quickly, and make decisions in areas where you have less experience. 

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

The answer is the same - the variety!  Our company is engaged in an evolving space at a very unique time.  When the external dynamics are combined with internal growth and expansion, it can be an incredibly exciting experience.  While no day is the same, and there is no boredom, it can be challenging to carve out time for longer term projects, and we need to pivot frequently.  It is important to have a team that can handle ambiguity and thrive in changing times.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

My proudest accomplishment has been the growth and success of Wellframe over the last 4 years.  When I initially joined the company, we had about 30 employees, and were seeing early traction in the market.  Three years later, in 2019, we started to experience amazing progress and recognition as the model started to come together.  We were recognized as a Deloitte Fast500 company for our growth, a Boston Business Journal Best Places to Work for our culture, but most importantly, we were seeing increased impact delivered to our customers and their members.  While I was excited that my work had helped us to get to this series of wins, I was most proud of how thrilled that my team was to see their efforts pay off in a big way.

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

Professionally, I am a member of the CFO Leadership Council, and was honored to be invited to participate in their Emerging Leader program last year.  Personally, I am most passionate about volunteering with organizations that support and mentor women and girls, including the Junior League of Boston, Science Club for Girls, and the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston.  Volunteering has been an important part of my life in Boston, and I have worked to incorporate my interests in community impact into Wellframe’s company culture.  I am the sponsor of an employee-led initiative called Wellframe Cares, which matches our volunteers with local non-profit organizations such as More Than Words, Catie’s Closet and Community Servings.

Melissa Herman Wellframe

Melissa Herman Wellframe

What’s next for you and your career?

I am excited about the opportunities ahead for Wellframe, as we prepare for the next stage of growth.  I will be attending MIT Sloan’s Executive MBA program this fall, and I am looking forward to learning new models and frameworks that I can apply at the company.  I have also been focusing more time on networking and learning from others.  One of the things that I love the most about Boston is that it is a small community, and very supportive and collaborative. 


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Spending time with my family - we have a 3 year old son and a 5 year old daughter.  We love being outside and exploring new places.  I also enjoy working on my family tree - the role of family historian was handed down to me from my grandmother a few years ago.  The research is essentially a series of puzzles and matching problems that can be very satisfying to solve.  My current project is to work on documenting my husband’s Ukrainian family history for our kids.

Melissa Herman Wellframe

How do you manage stress?

Laughter.  There can be many setbacks and frustrating moments as you work with your team to build a company.  Finding the humor in it can be a healthy release.  I have also had to learn to fully unplug during this time when work/life integration is at its peak.  It is hard to be home with the kids during the week, but not be able to spend time with them.  For the first time in many years, I am no longer working on weekends, as I need them to know some time is only theirs.

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

Usually 2-3!  Although I am not originally from New England, I have adapted to drinking iced coffee year round, even in the dead of winter.  

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

One of my favorite places in Boston is the Rose Kennedy Greenway area.  It is a great place to eat lunch outside during the work week, and it really comes to life in the summer.

Any book or podcast recommendations?

I am currently reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, and Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde.  The latter is with the women’s book club at Wellframe.  Both of these books have provided interesting insights for leading and relating to others in this unique time.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

All experience is valuable, and you can find something in every role that can be used later.  In my first role in sales, I learned how to build relationships, extract the needs of my clients and prospects, and communicate my point quickly.  These skills served me well as I transitioned to corporate finance, and was partnering with busy executives in other areas of the business.  

I would also suggest that you ask a lot of questions, and try to learn as much as you can about what is happening at your companies.  Later in your career, it can be helpful to reference how your companies addressed certain challenges, or accomplished something exceptional.  As a last tip, I would suggest that recent graduates not be shy about asking for advice and help from others.  It can be intimidating to ask someone to enter a formal mentor relationship, however, almost everyone can make time for coffee or tea, and then it is on you to follow up!

About the
Company

Wellframe helps healthcare organizations support every aspect of health beyond the four walls of care delivery. 

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