Inspirational profiles of women in
leadership roles in the tech scene.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Joanne Wu, VP of Business Development at Cyberark banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Joanne Wu, VP of Business Development at Cyberark

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Joanne Wu, VP of Business Development at Cyberark.


Where did you grow up?  What did your parents do for work?  

I was raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. My dad was an investment banker and my mom was a school teacher.  

Where did you go to college?  What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school?

My undergrad was completed at Tufts, studying economics.  My MBA is from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.  I ended up pursuing a career in business following the footsteps of my father and grandfather (both business leaders), mostly because I failed my intro to engineering class!  Initial jobs out of school included working for an employee benefits consulting company, and then finance at several high-tech companies.

Joanne Wu Cyberark

What has attributed to your success thus far and has helped propel you to the position you have now?

In every company I’ve joined, and every job I’ve taken, I’ve made sure that I’m passionate about the work I am doing, and the organization I am joining.  When I first started in security over 20 years ago, I felt compelled to learn more about the security market, and I saw that I could make a real contribution to making the world a safer place.  Since then, in every job I’ve held, it is my passion for the technology that drives me. As cliché as it sounds – I want to know that I’ve helped people and organizations be safe and secure.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Vice President of Business Development at Cyberark?

I am responsible for leading our business development efforts across our strategic partners.  This involves developing technology integrations, advancing go to market activities and most importantly driving influence revenue for both CyberArk, as well as our strategic partners.  

Any tips for someone considering a career in Business Development?

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.  You never know where your network will take you, but it’s important to have a solid network.


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Coffee, 24 oz, 7:00 sharp

What time do you get into the office? 

8:30

What are three things that motivate you in your role?

  • People at CyberArk
  • People at my Partners

  • Joint business goals
     

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

Email, phone calls, meetings, negotiations. I spend about half my time talking to partners, and half my time bringing my partners’ insights back into CyberArk.

Joanne Wu Cyberark

What time do you head out of the office? 

5:30

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

Sometimes, it depends on the day.

What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?

  • iMessage

  • Waze

  • Insta

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

Advancing and evolving the relationship of my strategic partners.  Business Development is all about relationships. Sometimes this can be accomplished quickly, sometimes it takes years.  Each relationship is unique. It takes skill, persistency and strategic thinking to identify the unique value that we can bring to each other and then turn that value into a measurable win-win for each organization.

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

 Former bosses (lots) in the security industry.


Want to learn more about CyberArk? Check out their BIZZPage.

About the
Company

CyberArk proactively stops the most advanced cyber threats – those that exploit insider privileges to attack the heart of the enterprise.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Carolyn Pampino, VP of Design at Brightcove banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Carolyn Pampino, VP of Design at Brightcove

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Carolyn Pampino, VP of Design at Brightcove.


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

Carolyn grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, also known as “the city of bridges.” Bridging is a metaphor that describes much of her career and her approach in everything she does. This comes in the form of bridging creative and analytical when evaluating a design, or bridging the perspectives of the many functional leaders with whom she collaborates. In addition, the spirit and strength team was born of an early childhood experience. One spring, a new YMCA was being constructed near her house. Everyone was excited to have a pool for the summer. Before Memorial day, news raced through the community that the YMCA had run out of money. The men in the neighborhood knocked on every door, collecting outdoor paint. They mixed all of the whites together, and separately all of the darks together. Everyone pitched in to paint the pool and the swim lanes, including Carolyn who got her own corner of the pool! That act of collaboration set the tone with the community for many years to come, whether it involved cheering for the swim team, creating synchronized swimming events, or the adults hosting after hours themed potlucks. Bridging and radical collaboration are foundational elements in how she interacts with teams. 

Carolyn Pampino Brightcove
The YMCA Pool, circa 1970's

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

Carolyn graduated from the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University. One of the things that still gives her a laugh is that back then, the engineering students at Carnegie Mellon were known as the vegetables and art students were known as the fruits. With her nature to bridge, she had friends in both schools! This led her to joke that she must be a tomato - a fruit that most people think is a vegetable. 

Her first job in Customer Support brought her to Boston.  This role taught her empathy for the end user and that the user’s perception is their reality. Her ability to diagnose problems led to jobs in quality assurance, while her curiosity of how things were created, brought her further into the technical field. It wasn’t until later that she discovered user centered design and design thinking, but this is where the seed was planted. 

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

In the early 1990’s Carolyn was introduced to UX - a field that combined creative and analytical thinking. Carolyn experienced a significant amount of career growth at Interleaf, including being on the due diligence team that led to Interleaf’s acquisition by Broadvision for nearly 1 billion dollars. 

When IBM acquired Rational software, Carolyn found her way back to designing user experiences by leading efforts that are commonly known as user journeys or journey maps.  Her team would futurecast the experience as a story, imaging where they could make the users say “wow!” This story and it’s moments of “wow!” was used to drive everything they did - from development, testing, demoing and selling. She also learned the importance of creating and running healthy teams from industry luminaries Erich Gamma & Jon Wiegand. Here she got to see how the power of design really impacted the business by tripling the value of the products sold. She donated her techniques to the IBM Design organization when it formed in 2013. She can see her thumbprints on some of the materials used by IBM to roll Design Thinking out to the world. 

After nearly 15 years at IBM, Carolyn took some time off and then joined PTC. She honed her ability to run design thinking workshops, helped train others, and led progressively larger workshops with the largest being 180 people. She loves running workshops, as they allow everyone to think freely, have some fun, and get excited by the process. 

What is your current role and responsibilities?

As VP of Design at Brightcove, an online video platform, Carolyn oversees a global team of designers and writers. Their mission is to tell customer stories to the product teams, to make it easier for Brightcove’s customers to share their stories in video. Having briefly flirted with video production in college, the opportunity to work in video and inspire a culture of design thinking at Brightcove intrigued her. As a storyteller, customers using video to engage audiences around the world was exciting - and a great opportunity to once again partner with Charles Chu, our Chief Product Officer. Working at Brightcove often reminds Carolyn of her time at Interleaf - a small company with an amazing customer base, poised to do great things together. She is excited about the opportunity to execute as one team on innovation for our customers. 

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? What organizations are helpful to get familiar with? 

Carolyn’s top tip for recent grads and VP’s alike is to learn the business you are in, and establish strong relationships. Design is a collaborative effort - and one that reaches throughout the organization. To be successful, use your empathy as a designer to understand the goals and pressures of your teammates in other functions. Then use your creativity to future cast your relationship and build bridges.  There are so many ways to get involved in your field outside of your immediate peer group. A simple start is to get involved with UXPA or attend the annual conference. For designers further into their career, consider learning more about UX strategy. There is a LinkedIn group called UXStrat, along with a conference that occurs three times a year in different locations. The USA conference is in Boulder CO in September. 


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Carolyn is the proud parent of two Cardigan Corgi’s, Sookie TruBlu & Shapeshifter Sam. The lore of the Cardigan Corgi is that they are the preferred breed of elves and fairies because they enhanced their powers. In honor of fairies and all, Sookie is named after Sookie Stackhouse from True Blood, and Sam is named after well, Sam, the shapeshifting bartender who protected her. (picture below)  Carolyn has come to believe in the lore, as they bring out her inner elf and the magic is now flowing! You can follow them on instagram @mr.shifter_ms.sookie and @sookie_trublu.

Carolyn enjoys sculpting, cycling, yoga & meditation. When Carolyn wants to celebrate she loves going to Cape Cod, or dining at Sycamore in Newton. 


Any book or podcast recommendations? 
While on the train, Carolyn is currently listening to “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell. For getting her brain flowing in the Psychology/UX space she is also reading Bottlenecks by David C Evans - it’s a digestible take on UX and how humans are wired, a great read for anyone who is curious about how the brain processes information.

Final advice to pass on?

“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.”


Want to learn more about Brightcove? Check out their BIZZPage.

About the
Company

We are video that means business, helping customers experience the incredible potential of video.

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Lead(H)er profile - Suzy Peled, VP of Finance at CyberArk banner image

Lead(H)er profile - Suzy Peled, VP of Finance at CyberArk

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Suzy Peled, the VP of Finance at CyberArk.


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

I was born in Israel to a stay at home mother and father who worked for the Israeli water infrastructure agency. I am the middle child with two sisters, and as a kid we were all pushed by my mother to excel in school, in sports and in music. While my sisters focused on classical piano, I was more interested in athletics and was a competitive gymnast until I was 14. I was always a little reserved and quiet as a child, though quite happy and playful.

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

While my mom wanted me to study Math, I preferred something more practical and went for the study of Economics. My first job out of school was in one of the pioneers of e-learning, Arel, where I started as the Assistant Controller.

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

I worked for Arel for several years then I moved to Boston with my husband when he got admitted to the MIT Sloan MBA program. There, I had a wonderful first year simply enjoying the international student body we became part of. I still have many friends in the States, in Central and South America, and in Europe from that time. 

A “critical” moment came towards the end of that year when I was offered an interview by a fellow spouse of an MIT student who was heading back to Israel and vacating her position at a yet relatively unknown Israeli startup called Cyber-Ark. My interview with the two founders, Udi Mokady and Alon Cohen, was, in retrospect, a life-changing event, since it is now nearly 17 years later, and I am still with the Company, and still working closely with Udi, while CyberArk has grown from a few dozens, to a publically traded company with over 1,500 employees.

Another big “critical” moment, was, of course, the road to the IPO and the IPO itself where I took part of and was one of the proudest moments in my life.

Suzi Peled Cyberark

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I am now heading the Finance department for the Americas. Americas are around 60% of the pie so that means that there’s a lot of activity in this region, in all aspects.

I have a team of around 20 employees in various positions. 

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

So the truth is that I always had a passion for sports and honestly wanted to be one of those reporters that could stand on the field and watch great games from ground 0. I was close to that path once, while still in Israel, when a director in Arel offered to hook me with a local TV channel; but soon thereafter came MIT and the move and I eventually stuck with finance. To say that it was a childhood dream to be running numbers for a living would be a stretch, but the responsibility, and the impact, are both things that fit me, so overall, yeah, I think I did very well and am very pleased with where I am. 

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?

Most of it are obvious things. In every position, but especially in finance, you need to be able to trust the people doing the work. Too much depends on it, there are too many details for things to be micromanaged, so the main thing I am always looking for in new hires are credibility, candor, and ability to remain focused, to stay true to your promises, dedication. Ability to listen, to seek and accept constructive criticism, all these are necessary. Beyond that, to thrive in any job I believe you need to somehow find things that please you or at least don’t make you suffer, so whatever a passion for accounting is (if there is such a thing ☺), you should have it.

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

There is never a dull moment for me. I enjoy being busy, and admit that I like the stress too.. Not sure I am a workaholic, but I do find myself working in some way most of the time. Again, the truth is I enjoy it for the most part.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

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.

Also, I am proud of my team. I think there is nothing trivial in getting a group of individuals to collaborate successfully day in and day out under tremendous stress and crazy timelines without the whole thing falling apart. I look at the growth of these individuals and though it is obviously their achievement and not my own, I take pride in it. In the fact that I found the right people. It’s definitely satisfying.

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

I do a little volunteering with my kids from time to time, and am looking to increase that time commitment.

What’s next for you and your career?

No idea! That’s the fun part


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Spending time with my family, walking my dog, traveling to new places, watching football, going to Rock concerts or good shows, hiking, going to the beach in Tel-Aviv.

I try to do some Yoga or Pilates and recently joined a mom’s catchall team (and I love it!)

Suzy Peled Cyberark

How do you manage stress?

I try to keep a sense of proportion in general and work hard on separating signal from noise.

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

Too many

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

Cambridge. Where our American adventure began. 

Any book or podcast recommendations?  (Professional or fun)

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Podcast – How I built it series

Rise and Fall of Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

I believe that to be happy in your work you need to find something that plays to your natural skills and interest you more than titles and fiscal rewards.


Want to learn more about CyberArk? Check out their BIZZPage.

About the
Company

CyberArk proactively stops the most advanced cyber threats – those that exploit insider privileges to attack the heart of the enterprise.

View Company Page
Lead(H)er profile - Kim Simone, Chief Operating Officer at Constant Contact banner image

Lead(H)er profile - Kim Simone, Chief Operating Officer at Constant Contact

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Kim Simone, the Chief Operating Officer at Constant Contact.


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

I grew up in the small town of Brighton, Michigan and even as early as my elementary school years I was dedicated to doing my best. I’ve always enjoyed learning and I spent a lot of time studying. In fact, when I wasn’t studying for my own classes, I was tutoring others, including special needs children. 

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

Growing up I had always envisioned myself as a doctor and I started with the intentions of being a pre-med major at the University of Michigan. That vision took a big turn when my grandmother suffered a serious accident. During my time caring for her, I realized that being so close to near-death experiences was ultimately not for me. Without a clear plan for what might lie ahead, I changed my major to economics and landed my first job out of school as a programmer trainee at a company called Systematics. It was an interesting leap for a new grad without a background in computer science. To my surprise I got a great score on an entrance test they administered. Turns out there’s a high correlation between people with musical tendencies (I played the organ) and programming skills. My unexpected career in tech was launched!

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 started at Systematics and progressed even as the company experienced a sequence of acquisitions, first by AllTell, then Verizon Communications. Prior to Constant Contact, I served as Vice President of the $50 million IT Sales Support organization for Verizon Communications, where I led large-scale, global corporate information systems.

It’s not easy to advance a career within the same organization for over 20 years, particularly when that organization is acquired twice. I believe I was able to thrive because I always focused on working hard and doing my best. I’m known as a person who gets things done and that trait has served me well. While I’ve never had a specific career plan, I’ve always found that if I work hard, opportunities come to me. And I’ve always welcomed new opportunities. That’s translated into a total of six moves, including states like Arkansas, Indiana, and Iowa. It can be challenging to pick up and move to a new state but that flexibility gave me opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise. All but two of my moves happened prior to the birth of my two daughters so, of course, professional considerations can change as your personal life evolves. 

What is your current role and responsibilities?

As COO of Constant Contact I lead the collective effort to help small business owners launch and grow their business through the use of our online marketing platform. Most small business owners are not professional marketers. Our job is to simplify the marketing process so they can focus on their passion. We do that not just with our streamlined technology, we also have marketing experts on hand to help guide them. Our customers know they don’t have to do it alone. My job lies at the intersection of people and technology, with responsibility for Sales and Customer Support, Engineering and Product Management organizations. My primary focus is on driving revenue growth through customer value. While some days are tougher than others, I can’t begin to tell you how proud I feel when I talk to our customers and hear how using Constant Contact has helped them grow their business. 

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

Given that I’ve never had a formal career plan I can’t say that this is where I thought I’d be at this stage of my career but I can say I’ve never been happier. I enjoy learning new disciplines as much as I enjoy building great teams, so my role at Constant Contact has been extremely fulfilling. To pivot to a new industry at this point in my career has been a tremendous opportunity and the team is made up of the most smart, fun-loving and dedicated people I’ve ever worked with. 

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

Be 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. 

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

Working well with others, being an open and honest communicator, and taking an analytical approach to problem-solving. 

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

The most rewarding aspect of my career has been helping others grow their careers. I truly value the opportunity to mentor people and help them realize their goals. At the end of the day, we are remembered most for who we are and how we’ve treated others.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Stewarding my team through the last acquisition at my prior company. Many of these people had worked for me for their entire career and I did everything in my power to keep them employed. I’m proud to say that I was able to keep the vast majority of my team intact. 

What’s next for you and your career?

I plan to stick with my go-to strategy of working hard, doing my best and being open to what comes next!


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I spend most of my free time with my husband and two daughters taking advantage of the outdoors. We enjoy scuba diving, hiking and rock climbing.  

Kim Simone Constant Contact

How do you manage stress?
I’m a runner and use exercise to manage stress.

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?
This is one area of my life where I’m pretty inconsistent. I’ll go from completely abstaining from coffee for months at a time to downing two cups of coffee a day.  

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

The Shawangunk Ridge in New York, also known as The Gunks. 

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?
Don’t worry about having a career plan! Think about the kind of person and employee you want to be and do your best everyday. College grads seem to think they need to have their careers plotted out but it’s so difficult at a young age to know your best path. Have some big goals in mind but don’t worry about the specifics - you really don’t know where your life and career can ultimately take you. I also recommend learning from the leaders around you. Observe their management style and incorporate any traits you admire into your own work style. And be sure to support the leaders who support you in your current role. Build a rapport, and a sense of trust, with them. Having them as an advocate can be a big advantage as you look to secure your next role.


Want to learn more about Constant Contact? Check out their BIZZPage.

About the
Company

Constant Contact is a leader in providing people with a smarter way to market their idea, business, or cause online.

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Lead(H)er profile - Potoula Chresomales, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Skillsoft banner image

Lead(H)er profile - Potoula Chresomales, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Skillsoft

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As the daughter of Greek immigrants and the first member of her family to attend college, Potoula Chresomales attributes a large part of her professional success to the public schools she attended while growing up in Queens, New York. Now she works at the intersection of education and technology, as senior vice president of product management at Skillsoft, where her mission is to help democratize the accessibility of knowledge through online learning.

Skillsoft is a global leader in corporate learning, with over 20 million users worldwide. “We create thousands of online courses, as well as books, audiobooks, and book summaries,” says Potoula, “and we deliver all of it through an interactive learning platform. Our goal is to help our clients create a continuous learning culture inside their companies. Learning takes time, and people don’t have a lot of time, so we try to remove that friction.” Skillsoft’s technology accomplishes this by delivering “small bites”: short videos, summaries, and specific pieces of information that address immediate problems one may encounter on the job during the flow of work. “We make it easy for micro-learning to happen, for example, during someone’s commute to work,” Potoula explains. “With e-learning, everyone has access, that’s what makes it so powerful.”

Skillsoft’s clients include 65 percent of Fortune 500 companies, including large healthcare and financial services firms. In her role as SVP of product management, Potoula leads the product and UX teams, who work together with the engineering team to build out the website that serves as Skillsoft’s core learning platform. Using an agile software development process, they are able to deliver new features every two weeks. Recent features include adding Chinese and Japanese languages to the platform, as well as AI-driven notifications for re-engaging learners. “It’s high velocity, and that’s challenging,” says Potoula. “But when we build a new feature that our customers use and enjoy, we can see that in our data, and it’s incredibly rewarding.” 

The mission fuels her. “On our worst day, someone achieves a new goal at their job. Someone qualifies for a promotion. Someone learned a new skill that prepares them for the next step in their career. We have a purpose in this world that’s bigger than our company doing well.” 

As an undergraduate at New York University, Potoula studied marketing and management, while also working part-time as a bank teller. She credits an early mentor for steering her toward business. “I was interested in psychology, and my mentor told me, if you like psychology you’ll love marketing—it’s the psychology of why people buy things.” Potoula took her first job with JP Morgan Chase, in their management training program. After earning her MBA at Dartmouth, she moved into product management, interning at Nabisco, then working at McGraw Hill, a publishing company. Eventually, she found her way into education. “I spend a lot of time and energy in my work,” she says, “so I wanted it to be aligned with my values.” She worked at College Board and Kaplan Test Prep before landing at Skillsoft.

To excel in her role as SVP of product management, customer focus is paramount. “The UX process involves prototyping, testing, and iterating, and it’s important for the customer to be in the middle of that cyclical process,” says Potoula. “If we don’t solve their problems, we don’t succeed. When I joined the company, there were 3 people doing UX, now we have a team of 15, and I’m proud of our customer focus.”

Other important skills include consensus building and team management. “I’m a storyteller. I have to explain things in a way that people can understand, so they see why it matters to the customer, and they get excited about solving that problem. My team is successful when everyone feels they can do their best work.”

Of course, there is always far more work to do than time to do it, and prioritizing is one of Potoula’s challenges. “We’re continuously taking inputs from the marketplace, and we pivot frequently. For example, we’ll move a playlist functionality from here to there to see if it makes a difference, or we’ll recalibrate our search algorithm to see if it helps people better find what they’re looking for.” In addition to reviewing research and usability data, Potoula speaks with Skillsoft’s clients directly. “Hearing a customer describe the problem, that’s the moment of innovation. I spend a lot of time living in that problem space.” 

As for Potoula’s goals for 2020? “We just signed a big partnership with MIT’s Sloan Management Review. We’re co-creating a leadership development program, and I’m excited to bring it fully to market. Tech is at the center of leadership in the digital age.” The ed-tech space is exactly where Potoula wants to be, helping people achieve their career and personal goals.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I like going to the movies, especially ones that have some connection in history. There’s nothing like being in a dark room with popcorn!

What are your strategies for managing stress?

I try to get 7-8 hours of sleep. It helps me bring my best brain to the next day. Also, I spend a lot of time with friends and family. Something that feels really stressful when you’re in the weeds of it feels less stressful when you give it perspective. 

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

None! I have a habit of drinking Coke instead. I drink it for breakfast to get my caffeine rush.

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

When I’m in Boston, I have a home away from home—the Hilton in Faneuil Hall, on Broad Street. They have a lovely restaurant that has a fantastic breakfast. It’s such a happy place, especially during the holiday season, and going there always puts me in a good mood!

What do you consider one of your proudest accomplishments?

Since joining Skillsoft three years ago, we launched a new learning experience platform in the marketplace and it is called Percipio. This platform has earned 13 awards to date and has millions of users. Our clients are reporting that learner engagement is at record highs and that means that it is helping people achieve their goals. That makes me very proud.

Is this where you thought you’d be 10 years ago?

10 years ago I made the shift into the education space. I was hoping to advance my career in product management, so yes, I do think this is where I thought I would be. I’m glad I have the role I have now, I love hearing from the people we’re impacting every day, and it’s great to know we’re making a difference.

What’s your advice for recent college graduates?

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.


Mira T. Lee is a Contributor to VentureFizz. You can follow her on Twitter @MiraTLee.

About the
Company

Skillsoft delivers online learning, training, and talent solutions to help organizations unleash their edge

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

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

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 Boston's 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.


Matisha Ladiwala InsightSquared

“I think that was a useful experience because it's a completely different set of skills that you get when working at companies of different sizes,” Ladiwala said. “My sweet spot is between 200 to 1,000 employees. That’s where I have, in the past, come in and be able to add value and make a difference.”

Check out the full Article   View InsightSquared's Jobs


Kate Westervelt MOMBOX

“I was blown away by just how hard the postpartum recovery period was, even with help from family, friends, and good health care,” Westervelt said. “I started to think about single moms everywhere, and others with fewer resources than I. How, if this was so hard for me with all of my available helping hands, were other women with fewer resources getting on?”

Check out the full Article   


Layla Shaikley Wise Systems

"It was so outside of my wheelhouse,” said Shaikley, who had dreamed of building United Nations resettlements for people who had been displaced by conflict or natural disasters. “It was insane, and I fell in love with technology and the idea of working within technology while I was there.”

Check out the full Article   View Wise Systems' Jobs


Sabrina Manville Edmit

“My decision to jump over and do a startup was the culmination of having worked in more innovative and entrepreneurial settings and really liking that, but also finding a vision and a partner that shared my values and wanted to bring more data into the hands of students and families so that they can make better decisions,” Manville said.

Check out the full Article   


Emily Glass Datto

“When I think about a new challenge, I assess what I've got to work with and where I see gaps, and then I ask for things to enable success, whether it's people or skills or a new office or software,” she said.

Check out the full Article   View datto's Jobs


Kristin (Somol) Simonini Applause

“When you're talking about an early stage or start-up organization, you have an opportunity to really make an impact and see the results of your team's efforts,”

Check out the full Article   View applause's Jobs


Catherine Richards BHE

“What’s most important to me is constantly improving as a manager and leader to make sure that my team is running effectively and feeling fulfilled in their work,”

Check out the full Article 


Kim Rose Buildium

“What’s important to me is that I continue to learn,” Rose said.  “And the more time I spend with customers, the better. I hope to always be working in a role in a company where customers are truly seen as the lifeblood of the company and where a customer-first strategy is our compass.”

Check out the full Article   View Buildium's Jobs


Heather Ames Neurala

“What I find most rewarding is really being able use my position to focus on the people that work here,” Ames said.

Check out the full Article   View Neurala's Jobs


Tacita Morway ActBlue

“I always look for the problems that are going to be exciting, interesting, and satisfying, and for the people that I’m going to be pumped to work with,” Morway said. “It’s about, where can I be learning and growing? ”

Check out the full Article 


Alison Aldrich Privy

“Going back to that smaller, earlier stage startup is what really got me excited,” she said. “I love to build something from nothing.”

Check out the full Article   View Privy's Jobs


Ann Toomey Wellist

“It’s really been an awesomely fun career, and while you certainly never master something like advertising, jumping into something where there are parts of it that you know nothing about is both terrifying and exhilarating,”

Check out the full Article   View Wellist's Jobs


Amy Littlefield ThriveHive

“From a really broad sense, it’s about taking all of the different sales channels that we have and people who are customer-facing within our own company and improving their understanding of our solutions. How can we better educate and enable people that are working within our marketing services division to drive revenue and improve customer service?”

Check out the full Article   View ThriveHive's Jobs


Kate Pope Smith Openbay

“When you think about the future, that’s really today,” Smith said. “It’s been exciting to embrace every new capability that comes into marketing, and now it’s faster and more exciting than ever. Imagine a day when all you have to do is say, ‘Alexa, schedule my oil change,’ and she goes, ‘Okay, contacting Openbay!’”

Check out the full Article 


Susan Rice Toast

“Somebody said to me in a very casual conversation that I was creative and should look into this web design thing,” said Rice, now the Head of Product Design and Research at Toast. “I had no idea what that was, but I did look into it.”

Check out the full Article   View Toast's Jobs


Elizabeth Graham Notarize

“What I thrive on is the energy, ideation, and willingness for people to test things, try them out, and then dust themselves off and start over again when they have to,” 

Check out the full Article   View Notarize's Jobs


Sarah (Mattice) Hill Eze Software

“I was managing a team at that point, and I realized that I loved helping people,” she said. “I loved growing people’s careers and finding out their strengths and weaknesses to help them thrive within the company.”

Check out the full Article   View Eze Software's Jobs


Leanne Orphanos Applause

“It’s an incredible opportunity to apply process improvement and account management strategy at a fast-paced, high-growth company, like Applause.”

Check out the full Article   View Applause's Jobs


Kyle Polischuk MOO

“I don’t believe HR can be of value in an organization unless you understand the business,” she said. “For me, that means helping business leaders figure out the puzzle of, how do we take what the business wants to do and tie that to your people initiatives?”

Check out the full Article   View moo's Jobs


Tatyana Gubin CozyKin

“We saw families who were trying to do something like this through Craigslist or Yahoo,” Gubin said. “That’s how much they wanted this type of care. The whole point of CozyKin is to bring peace of mind to families.”

Check out the full Article 


Renee Bochman Salsify

“My real skill is being able to look at companies when they’re going into a real growth mode and trying to figure out how to go from startup to scale while still driving the same level of service,” 

Check out the full Article   View salsify's Jobs


Gabriela McManus Drizly

“When we talk about attracting, developing, and retaining talent, it’s about coaching them through a series of experiences and providing them with enough support that they can use all their experiences as a series of touchpoints they can grow from,”

Check out the full Article   View Drizly's Jobs


Joyce Bell PrismHR

“What I've learned is that I love problem-solving, and what's interesting is, no matter the size of the company, there are always new challenges and problems to solve,”

Check out the full Article   View prismhr's Jobs


Laura Scott Takeoff

“What I loved about Wayfair and now love about Takeoff is that we’re solving problems when there’s no blueprint,” Scott said. “You can’t call anybody or look this up online, because nobody knows how to do this. I don’t know how to do it either, but I know how to put the right people into the room to dig into problems and figure it out.”

Check out the full Article   View Takeoff's Jobs


Amanda (LeVine) Bohne AppNeta

“Our customers are very large enterprises, so it can be a lengthy process to acquire new customers and onboard them,” Bohne said. “We give them lots of TLC along the way, working in close partnership with the sales and customer success teams, to make sure potential customers feel confident that AppNeta can help make them successful.”

Check out the full Article   View appneta's Jobs


Heather Hartford Acquia

“You can work anywhere, but more importantly, what are the compelling factors that differentiate where you work compared to any other company in the marketplace?”

Check out the full Article   View Acquia's Jobs


Meeta Mathur MineralTree

“It’s been a constant series of evolutions over the course of two decades from web design to information architecture to user experience design, to now managing the entire process.”

Check out the full Article   View Mineraltree's Jobs


Courtney Cunnane SmartBear

“I want to be in a position where I feel really proud of having built a team that understands how each person contributes to the overall results and feels really good about the impact we have on the business,” Cunnane said. 

Check out the full Article   View SmartBear's Jobs


Ella Alkalay Schreiber Hopper

“As a data scientist, it’s important for me to work in companies where the value proposition is the data,” Schreiber said. “I wanted a company that didn’t compromise, and strives to be the best in that field.” 

Check out the full Article   View Hopper's Jobs


Kelly Esten Toast

“I felt like I could have an impact within an organization of this size,” Esten said. “My last two companies have been founder-led, and I think working with the founders and executive team at this level is something really special. Everyone knows everyone’s names and what they’re working on.” 

Check out the full Article   View Toast's Jobs


Jackie Swansburg Paulino Pixability

“Everyone’s focused around our customers,” she said. “We’re a pretty small, agile company, so we’re able to bend over backward for our customers.”

Check out the full Article   View Pixability's Jobs


Allyson Barr Attivio

“You go from having zero to five leads to then building an engine, trying new things, and seeing the impact of that happen so quickly,” she said. “You can build your own path and experiment.” 

Check out the full Article   View Attivio's Jobs


Barbara E. Scarcella Netbrain

“I’ve always been able to work with a smile on my face, no matter how challenging things were, and most often found a resolution,”

Check out the full Article   View Netbrain Technologies' Jobs


Maria Manrique O'Reilly

“I’m proud to be part of the company’s history of financial stability and financial strength that allows us to make investments that are all self-funded.”

Check out the full Article   View O'Reilly's Jobs


Kate Adams Drift

“You have to know what problems you need to solve, but also what’s the most effective tech and how to integrate it with your marketing,” 

Check out the full Article   View Drift's Jobs


Lorraine Vargas Townsend Mendix

“I can trace all of my big career moves to a time that I raised my hand and said I’d do what no one else wanted to do, which was either travel 60 percent of the time or move to another location,”

Check out the full Article   View Mendix's Jobs


Lauren Melton Ellecation Education

Lauren Melton, Vice President of People Operations at Ellevation Education

“I very quickly learned a lot of employee relations skills that I’ve seen people go their entire career never having encountered,” Melton said. “I dealt with everything from unfair labor practices and contract negotiations to investigations around some really challenging situations.” 

Check out the full Article   View Ellevation Education's Jobs


Katie Mallett Panorama education

“I really fell in love with the startup environment,” Mallett said. “I especially love the hypergrowth atmosphere.” 

Check out the full Article   View Panorama Education's Jobs


Melissa Campbell Tamr

“Selling technology to large enterprises was a sweet spot for me,” says Melissa, who managed sales teams at IBM, BMC and Oracle before joining Tamr. “But I was nervous about moving to a smaller company because I’d always had the mindset that I was a ‘big-company gal.’”

Check out the full Article   View Tamr's Jobs


Lauren Zajac Workhuman

“As a female executive, I feel strongly about a lot of topics, including equal pay, diversity and inclusion, and making sure different voices are heard.” Making sure these issues are addressed in her own company, and then at others, “that’s really gratifying.”

Check out the full Article   View Workhuman's Jobs


Lauren (LeBlanc) Mead TimeTrade

“There’s always something you could do better. So you have to find a balance, figure out where to focus your time and apply limited resources. Sometimes you realize something isn’t perfect, but doing it perfectly also isn’t the best use of time.”

Check out the full Article   View TimeTrade's Jobs


Stephanie Bourdage-Braun SS&C Intralinks

 “I saw this job working with collaboration software, Lotus Notes, and I thought it looked interesting. I wasn’t sure if I was qualified, but I figured I could learn it. So on a whim, I applied!”

Check out the full Article   View SS&C Intralinks' Jobs


Molly Donaher Toast

“I like helping people grow. Whether they’re fresh out of college or an MBA program or very experienced, I want to figure out what makes them tick, what their career goals are, help them create their path. I strive to be someone others trust.”

Check out the full Article   View Toast's Jobs


Vitri Bhandari

Vitri Bhandari, VP People Ops & Strategy at Klaviyo

“I want everyone who comes into contact with Klaviyo to have an awesome experience,” she says. For example, if someone interviews at the company, “even if it’s not the right fit, I want them to feel like they’re better off for having coming into contact with us.”

Check out the full article   View Klaviyo Jobs

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

9 of the Top Leaders in the New York Tech Scene - Lead(H)er Recap

It’s a great time to be in the tech industry, particularly in New York, and women are leading the charge.

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 NYC's 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.


Maria Paula Saba ALICE

“In a corporate environment where things are already established, it takes so much energy to change anything,” Saba said. “In a startup, you’re creating the environment that you want to work in.”

Check out the full Article   View ALICE's Jobs


Terry Ladisheff LoadSmart

Terry Ladisheff, Chief Revenue Officer at Loadsmart

“The thing I love about the building stage is laying a strong foundation to help a company scale through really rapid growth” said Ladisheff, the Chief Revenue Officer at Loadsmart. “After things are a bit more established, I find the work a little less energizing."

Check out the full Article   View Loadsmart's Jobs


Stella Kim Mixlab

Stella Kim - Founder and CXO at Mixlab

“If you show that you care about people, whether it’s a coworker or a customer, it’s appreciated. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture -- the smallest things go a long way to show them that you care,”

Check out the full Article   


Jen Hau Troops

Jen Hau, VP of Product at Troops

“People who join startups are often intellectually curious and eager to make an impact, and I find their drive really motivating,” she said. “And I do love the chaos of a startup.” 

Check out the full Article   


Amy Holtzman AlphaSense

Amy Holtzman, Senior Vice President of Marketing at AlphaSense

“I love the diversity of marketing work and the ability to touch so many different departments,” Holtzman said. “Marketing sits in the center of a company, and if done well, it supports almost every part of the organization with results that are measurable in business outcomes.”

Check out the full Article   


Susanne Gurman SecurityScorecard

Susanne Gurman, Vice President of Revenue Marketing at SecurityScorecard

“When I joined, it was a new startup that was at the beginning of an emerging market and had the opportunity to really accelerate,” Gurman said. “I love aggressive goals, and I’m surrounded by people who are so intelligent.” 

Check out the full Article   View SecurityScorecard's Jobs


Meredith Wood Fundera

Meredith Wood, Vice President of Marketing at Fundera

 “I spend a lot of time working with my direct reports and supporting them however they need. As a whole, I try to make sure that we've developed a strong culture within the marketing organization.”

Check out the full Article   


Kelly Shortridge Caosule8

Kelly Shortridge, VP of Product Strategy at Capsule8

“I think it’s important to project an image of strength, but transparency and honesty are appreciated more than many leaders think. I think it’s a considerably better strategy to be open to other people’s contributions. Particularly in product strategy, it’s important to almost be a bit vulnerable with your engineers, sales and marketing teams by asking for their input -- being honest that you don’t have all the answers. Then people feel like they’re along for the journey and that they have a stake in the outcome, which helps foster a stronger culture internally.” 

Check out the full Article   


Amy Roy, Chief People Officer at Namely

“I started to think about a change and something that would allow me to still stay in the HR tech space while being a little more local. Larry Dunivan, who's the CEO here at Namely, let me know that there was an opportunity for a new head of HR,”

Check out the full slideshow   View Open Jobs

Lead(H)er profile - Vitri Bhandari, VP People Ops & Strategy at Klaviyo banner image

Lead(H)er profile - Vitri Bhandari, VP People Ops & Strategy at Klaviyo

Open Jobs Company Page

In her 14 months at Klaviyo, Vitri Bhandari has helped her company grow from 145 to 334 people, and part of her job is ensuring that “Klaviyos” feel connected to each other and that the company maintains its unique culture. 

Klaviyo is a growth marketing platform that helps online businesses own the entire customer experience and build better relationships with their customers. As an example of how their technology fits into real life, Vitri relays this anecdote: “Our CEO is a runner. He injured himself, and for awhile he couldn’t run, and it turned out this was related to the sneakers he was wearing. So now, like clockwork, he buys the same sneakers every six months. But the company he buys his sneakers from hasn’t caught on yet. They never reach out, they never suggest, ‘Hey, would you like your sneakers now?’” She compares that experience with going to dinner at a restaurant that knows you and caters to your taste without you even asking.

For the small business owner, “it isn’t that people don’t care enough to take a personalized approach with their customers,” Vitri explains. “It’s that it’s hard to scale. The human brain can hold only so much information.” Klaviyo’s software learns about the purchasing preferences of the customer, as well as their responsiveness to the kinds of messages they’re receiving (content, style, timing, channel, etc.). “By analyzing this data, we can help our customers offer products and solutions to better meet their customers’ needs.”

Vitri Bhandari Klaviyo

In her position as VP of People Ops and Strategy, Vitri oversees Klaviyo’s talent acquisition, human resources, and learning functions. “I want everyone who comes into contact with Klaviyo to have an awesome experience,” she says. For example, if someone interviews at the company, “even if it’s not the right fit, I want them to feel like they’re better off for having coming into contact with us.”

One of Klaviyo’s mottos is “always be learning, always be teaching,” and growth is at the core of company culture. “People who work here love to learn, improve, and teach each other. It’s collaborative, non-hierarchical, and the leadership team genuinely cares about doing things right.” For Vitri, one of her most satisfying achievements has been seeing Klaviyos accomplish things they never thought they could accomplish, together.

Vitri is deeply invested in understanding human psychology and the roots of motivation, but this wasn’t where she started her career. After majoring in economics at Boston University, she took a job with Fidelity Investments, where she worked on 401K fund options for customers. One of her early mentors encouraged her to go to business school, and from NYU she transitioned into consulting work at McKinsey & Company. “One of the great things about McKinsey is that they actively develop their people. Leadership saw things in me I didn’t even see myself. They really pushed me.” She stayed for seven years before moving on to serve as COO and Head of Human Capital at Vega Factor, a company that specializes in the science of human motivation.

Vitri cites analytical thinking, logic and pattern recognition, and strong communication and problem solving skills as important to her work. But even more crucial, she says, are thought agility, creativity, and empathy. “Being able to look at things from multiple angles and points of view is so important. I help people bridge the gap when they can’t see each other’s perspectives, and I have a strong sense of empathy that compels me to try to find win-win situations.” 

This positive energy and outlook has helped Vitri though her own difficult times. While pregnant with her first daughter, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. “The surgery, the treatments, it was a lot to go through.” After the birth of her second child, Vitri decided to take a step back. “I hit the pause button. I wanted to take time to re-evaluate.”

Eventually, a mutual acquaintance introduced her to Andrew Bialecki, CEO of Klaviyo. “He’s someone who cares deeply about the people side of things. I felt like we were complementary in both style and perspective.  What’s great is that I feel truly empowered to do what’s right for Klaviyos.”

Vitri and her team of 15 are mindful of the typical problems that arise when companies grow and scale quickly. “There can be a natural tension between people who have been at a company for awhile and the newcomers. Change can be uncomfortable, so it’s extra important to maintain a shared sense of purpose and mission. Klaviyo is a naturally collaborative company and I help people understand that we’ll all be better off if we can share our thought-processes and figure out the best solutions together.”

Vitri Bhandari Klaviyo

For 2020, Vitri’s goal is to ensure that every Klaviyo understands how what they do matters, where they’re heading in terms of their own personal and professional development, and how the company will create opportunities to help get them there.

“For me, there’s a real purpose and mission in it,” says Vitri about her aspirations to build something big, something truly special. “I want to show the world that it’s possible to build great things, and also do it in all the right ways.”


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love being active and hanging out with my kids. My daughters are 2 and 5 so they keep me busy. I also love all things food! I love cooking, tasting, and talking about great food, it’s a personal passion of mine. That, and hanging out with friends and family.

Vitri Bhandari Klaviyo

What are your strategies for managing stress?

It depends on the type of stress, but it ranges from things like exercise and staying active to questioning myself, playing devil’s advocate, reminding myself to look at things from different lenses. I also think it’s important to take a step back sometimes, disengage. I’ll focus on friends or family or food, or maybe do something a little bit mindless.

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

I love coffee but I’m not coffee dependent, so I’d say probably between 0 and 1.

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

Anywhere on the waterfront. I love being near the water and people watching.

What do you consider one of your proudest accomplishments?

When I “hit pause,” and was trying to decide what to do, I felt a little bit guilty about finding something I knew I was going to pour myself into. Then I remembered what a friend of mine said: “Treat yourself the way you’d want someone to treat your daughters.” So with my daughters, I know I’m going to raise them with good values, hold them to high standards, but I’m also going to be forgiving, and not too harsh. Remembering that empowered me to do things the way I want, that makes me happy. I’m excited and passionate about what I do professionally, and I’m also super engaged with my family, and living an overall balanced life. I hope I can help people see that things aren’t as rigid as they seem. You should feel empowered to live the way you want. I want my daughters to be able to do it all.

Is this where you thought you’d be 10 years ago?

No way! I never would’ve fathomed I’d be in this place. 15 years ago, I thought I’d be in investments. 10 years ago, I was working at McKinsey, and thought working with clients would be my path. Or maybe traveling the world and eating great food and talking about it!

What’s your advice for recent college graduates?

The three direct motives in terms of motivation are play, purpose, and potential. So follow your passions. Do things that give you a sense of purpose, where you’ll learn and grow. Don’t be afraid to take risks. And be human. We’re all just human beings trying to live our best lives.


Mira T. Lee is a Contributor to VentureFizz. You can follow her on Twitter @MiraTLee.

About the
Company

Klaviyo is the leading Owned Marketing platform, aimed at helping online businesses grow faster.

The only marketing platform that can help a brand launch and scale indefinitely until they are a multi-billion dollar leader of their space, Klaviyo is focused on the ecommerce business sector and used by over 60,000+ innovative companies such as Unilever, Kopari Beauty, and Huckberry.

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Lead(H)er profile - Amy Roy, Chief People Officer at Namely banner image

Lead(H)er profile - Amy Roy, Chief People Officer at Namely

Open Jobs Company Page

When Amy Roy, the Chief People Officer at Namely—a human resources software company with 500+ employees—graduated from college with a political science degree, she wanted to become a lobbyist. But her career trajectory changed when she ended up in retail and decided to go back to school for a master’s degree in human resources. While Roy was in school, she was offered a job in HR at a retailer. Naturally, this was a perfect fit that mixed her experience and the career she was working towards. Once she graduated, she was offered a role leading their HR technology group. Roy was looking for a change, like most people do at some point in their careers, and ultimately went to work for a manufacturer in HR. 

“They were in the process of switching HR and payroll systems. The vendor that they had chosen was Ceridian. When that company ultimately moved to Kentucky from New Jersey, I called my contact at Ceridian to let them know about the change and they said “why don't you come work here?” I worked there for 21 years,” she says.  

Throughout those 21 years, Roy worked on their implementation team, where she spent 10 years on their sales team and six years in operations. After working from home for 10 years and commuting to one of their offices by plane occasionally, she realized how much she missed working in an office environment.  “I started to think about a change and something that would allow me to still stay in the HR tech space while being a little more local. Larry Dunivan, who's the CEO here at Namely, let me know that there was an opportunity for a new head of HR,” she says.

When she met with the team at Namely and witnessed how their values were aligned with the very things that she believed in, she was hooked. “There's a great starting ground but still lots of opportunities to build,” she says about working at Namely at an executive level.

Hear more about Amy’s role at Namely in human resources technology, below. 


Q&A

What is Human Resources Technology?

This space is typically referred to as Human Capital Management. It's about the technology that manages employee information as it relates to their workplace. Starting from the time when you join a company and how you complete forms through your entire tenure at that company. When I first started in HR, everything was paper. Now people expect to be able to complete forms on their phones. If you want to take time off, you want the ability to request that via mobile or your computer. Or being able to recognize other employees for a job well done or how you enroll in benefits and track everything. It’s not limited to the employee, it’s also how administrators of HR and Payroll functions can become more strategic, efficient, and productive in how they manage their time. 

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I'm a mom of two college-age kids. While I probably would have said "sitting on the soccer field sidelines"... I now say "the ultimate frisbee sidelines" when I can. I have three dogs who are my babies while my kids are gone. One of the hardest parts of moving from a work at home job to an office job is leaving them with a dog-sitter.

I lived in New Jersey my whole life. One of the things that I took on about 18 months ago before I started working in New York City was to come to New York City once a month and do something I had never done before. I still try and continue to do that. Some things actually have become repeats because I like them a lot. Sometimes they're just about eating. I've walked across the Brooklyn Bridge on a Spring day. That's an experience in itself; just trying not to get run over by people on bicycles! I've done a couple of tours at the Tenement Museum, which I had never been to before. I did a lot of the things that you'd do on field trips when you were in grade school: The Met, MoMa, The Whitney. I'd also come in and try different restaurants or catch a show.  

What are some of your strategies for managing stress?

The biggest one that I find is to take a walk outside. I know it sounds simple and boring but if I get out for 20 minutes, with no phone (not even music for the most part), I just feel the fresh air and get away. That's a big one for me. I recently started using the Calm app. When I get on the train after a long day, I do the three-minute meditation which is really just about breathing. Then— it's going to sound dog-obsessed—but if I can just go hug my dogs and my kids that's a big thing for me too. 

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

I typically start my morning with a cup of tea and then I will have a cup of coffee mid-morning and probably another one late afternoon. I alternate back and forth between tea and coffee. There are some days where I feel like that's the only thing that gets me through. I'm a big Dunkin Donuts fan so I'm really glad that there's one a block away. A medium is typically where I start as soon as I get to the city.

What do you consider one of your proudest accomplishments?

From a personal perspective to see my kids in college. My son just got accepted to law school. Seeing them really thrive and grow is huge. I'm personally proud of the fact that I've been married for 24 years. Professionally, it's being here at Namely where I have the opportunity to really build and grow personally and help grow the business. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I hope that if you and I are speaking in a couple of years, I'll be able to tell you that I'm still here at Namely and that we're continuing to grow and do great things. It's hard for me to really say because I just got here and I don't see a change anytime in the five year future. The second thing is, while I do think it's important to have goals and objectives of where you want to be in terms of your professional life, a lot of my career has been successful for the opportunities that have presented themselves that I couldn't think of. Just by the fact of someone saying “hey, I think you would be good at this. Would you be interested?” Or taking a look at something that I never thought of before and trying it and taking that risk. So I am less about planning and more about keeping eyes open for opportunities that allow you to take your strengths and be your best self every day. 

What is your advice for recent college graduates?

Give yourself a break and don't put too much pressure on yourself. Consider taking an opportunity that even if you feel like it may not be exactly what you're looking for or exactly the kind of company that you're looking for, if you've got an opportunity then take it. Just because the way that a job description is written doesn't always mean that's how that job's going to play out. And if you have a passion about something even if it's not directly within your day job, often managers are really open to allowing you to learn and grow in other ways. And try something even if you don't feel like it's the right fit. It's experience, it's networking, and you may decide it actually is something that you've never thought about doing before. 


Bonnie Azoulay is a Contributor to VentureFizz. You can follow her on Instagram @bonazoulay.

About the
Company

Namely is the HR, Payroll, and Benefits platform your employees will love.

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Lead(H)er profile - Molly Donaher, Senior Director of Payments & Strategy at Toast banner image

Lead(H)er profile - Molly Donaher, Senior Director of Payments & Strategy at Toast

Open Jobs Company Page

When Molly Donaher joined Toast as the tech company’s 130th employee, it was a deliberate and well-researched move. After studying economics at Trinity College and beginning her career in investment banking, Molly was ready for something different. “I came to a crossroads,” she explains. “I could continue down the finance path, go to business school, or try something different. What I knew from my time in banking was that I enjoyed partnering with strong management teams.” 

After speaking with mentors and doing some serious soul searching, Molly decided it was time to give startups a shot. But it had to be the right company.

“There were five specific things I was looking for,” she says, “and first on the list was a strong product.” 

Toast provides technology that powers restaurants. Its current suite of products includes the Toast Point of Sale software platform, Toast Go, Toast Online Ordering, and Payroll and Team Management. The company also recently launched Toast Capital, a financial product that gives restaurants quick access to capital to help them grow.

But Molly recalls that back when she was doing her research, Toast was just getting started. “I lived downtown, and I went door to door, talking to restaurants that used their software. I’d walk in and say, ‘Hey, how do you like your POS system? I’m thinking of joining Toast.’ It was obvious that customers loved the technology, so that got me excited.”

The second item on Molly’s list: a big market. “You can have an awesome product, but if the market is small, it’s limited. The restaurant tech market is large worldwide.”

Number three: stage. Molly knew she wanted to join a company that was ready to grow. “Personally and professionally, I think there’s so much opportunity fueled by that kind of growth. When I joined Toast, we had just over 100 employees. Now we have 2500.” 

For the past two years, Molly has worked as the Senior Director of Payments and Strategy. She manages a team of 25 employees, overseeing the payments business. “By embedding a payments solution into the Toast platform, we’ve made it easy for restaurants to seamlessly and reliably accept payments. Through Toast Payments, restaurants have secure access to valuable guest transaction data that can be leveraged to help drive in more business.” 

Prior to moving into her current position, she led the Business Operations team, and before that, she oversaw Strategic Initiatives. “Which basically meant I worked on everything,” laughs Molly. “But I’ve loved wearing so many different hats. Having the opportunity to work cross-functionally and grow teams in these roles has been rewarding.” 

Fourth on Molly’s list: a strong executive team. “Strong leadership is so important to the core of a company. I had a warm introduction to Toast through former colleagues, and meeting them in person, I was blown away. The co-founders are involved, and smart, and I respected their high level vision.”

The final attribute Molly was looking for in her dream company? Energy. “I wanted to be in a place where people were excited to make an impact through their work, and if you walk around here, you’ll see the energy is palpable. We’re excited to solve problems for restaurants through our technology, we see ourselves as partners in their success first and foremost. ” 

Toast’s very first client was Barismo 364, a coffee shop in Cambridge. “When they had their five year anniversary, we celebrated with them, we covered all the coffee for their first 1000 customers,” says Molly. “Restaurant owners face many challenges and our mission is to empower them to delight their guests, do what they love and thrive.”  

At Toast, Molly loves building teams, and has also found mentoring to be extremely rewarding. “I like helping people grow. Whether they’re fresh out of college or an MBA program or very experienced, I want to figure out what makes them tick, what their career goals are, help them create their path. I strive to be someone others trust.”

Outside of the workplace, Molly is busy raising two young daughters, but she tries to stay involved with the tech community. “I’m part of Rev Boston by Accomplice, an awesome group female tech leaders.”

Molly Donaher Toast

Molly also continues to welcome every opportunity to engage with Toast’s customers, even when she’s just out for a night on the town. “Sometimes, it’s to my husband’s dismay,” she adds, laughing. “I’ll talk to the servers, the manager, ask if there’s any feedback or suggestions I can bring back to Toast.” 


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I have a two and a half year old and a nine month old. I love spending time with them!

What are your strategies for managing stress?

I try to stay anchored in the big picture: I have two young daughters, I have a family I love. There are so many things that can generate stress, but being anchored in the big picture and what those intentions are really helps. That, and a good cup of coffee.

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

A lot! Many. Let’s go with two or three. Two. 

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

I really love the South End. I used to live there, I love the charm and the restaurants.

What do you consider one of your proudest accomplishments?

Personally, I’d say my daughters, and growing my family. I’m so excited for my daughters’ futures, and I want them to be strong leaders someday. Becoming a working mother has forced me to work smarter, work differently. It’s given me another perspective that’s valuable. There’s always more work to be done, but working smarter means prioritizing the right things at the right time. Professionally, I’m proud that I’ve become a trusted leader.

Is this where you thought you’d be 10 years ago?

Yes and no! 10 years ago I was an investment banking analyst and I didn’t know exactly what my next move would be but I did know that I wanted to have an impact at a company with a solid mission I believed in, which is still part of what fuels me today. Yes in that I knew I wanted to become a role model and a trusted female leader. 

What’s your advice for recent college graduates?

Be open minded. Seek out strong mentors, proactively seek them out early in your career. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially to your direct manager when you’re first out of college. Get involved with your community, don’t be afraid to network and put yourself out there, whether it’s through an alumni network or whatever company you’ve joined. Introduce yourself!


Mira T. Lee is a Contributor to VentureFizz. You can follow her on Twitter @MiraTLee.

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We empower the restaurant community to delight guests, do what they love, and thrive.

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