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Lead(H)er Profile - Hillary Wyon, VP of Product at EF Education First banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Hillary Wyon, VP of Product at EF Education First

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the tech industry. In this Q&A, we are featuring Hillary Wyon, VP of Product at EF Education First.


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

I was born and spent my early childhood in Wolf Point, a small town in northeastern Montana on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. When I was 10, my family moved to Brookline, MA as a result of economic challenges in Montana at the time related to drought and oil prices, and to be closer to my grandfather. It was a major culture shock. Montana definitely defines my sense of home but moving also afforded me so many opportunities I would never have had. I have also never been afraid to move around. In many ways, this experience of moving across country and to a new life reflects the kinds of experiences we seek to convey to our customers in my job. Helping people step outside of their comfort zones, see and experience something new, or learn something new about the world and their place in it. As a child, I was a dreamer and a dedicated reader, an extroverted introvert. Largely how I would describe myself still.  

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

I focused on psychology and creative writing in school, after a pre-med stint. I took a circuitous path through college and worked full time while going to school at night. I was an assistant teacher for Beginners Spanish for high school freshmen. I was the Assistant Head of Facilities at an independent school in the Boston area, involved with event management, building and security management, and maintenance and new construction builds. I worked at a children’s book publisher in operations. All that led me to a “many-hats” office manager role at a tech startup that really launched my current career. 

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

The varied experience I had in roles and the different types of people who I worked with set me up for a lot of growth. It gave me a level of confidence that I would always be able to figure it out even if I didn’t know how to do it in the beginning.  

My role in facilities included a lot of written and verbal communication with a wide audience of people at different levels and in different roles (teachers, administration, parents, vendors, etc.), which really grew my skills in knowing how to change the way I communicated depending on who, how or where the conversation occurred. The experience also taught me to acknowledge and invest in ensuring that the “do-ers” are not forgotten – in communication and celebration and in providing context around what they are being asked to do. This applied to a team of maintenance workers making a school hum, and in later roles, a team of engineers building software to serve the business and its customers, and everyone in between. My work has also included a lot of crisis management, which I have used in every role since. 

When I landed at my first startup, this was really a jumping off point for me. Startups are built around giving people the opportunity to grow and expand their roles - we’re trying to get a lot out of a little! So I took that office manager role and grew it into benefits management, talent management, customer program management and product management. I worked with an amazing group of people who recognized my natural strengths and weren’t afraid to throw a new challenge at me, and who were willing to answer every question I could ask as I learned along the way. I learned there is strength in being open about what you don’t know and demonstrating that you are eager to learn. The relationships created here have stayed with me throughout my career. 

I have taken all of those skills and used them in each step in my career. The non-linear evolution of my education and career has, at times, been an insecurity for me, but it has allowed me to always feel comfortable with the unknown and not necessarily seeing the path before me. This has helped me at the macro level in my life and at the micro level of approaching projects, organizational change and crises with my day to day. 

I have also been very lucky that I have worked at more than one organization that had a mission that aligned with my own values and views about the world. This is something I have prioritized as I have progressed through my career. It is also a major reason why I am at EF now. EF’s mission to educate and bring people together to foster understanding and tolerance through travel and cultural experiences connects so many important dots from my own experience and values.  

Hillary Wyon EF

What is your current role and responsibilities? 

I am currently the VP of Product at EF Education First. I manage a team of product managers and UX designers. In concert with the engineering team, we are responsible for both the internal operational systems needed to run both our domestic and international tours products as well as our customer facing digital experiences for our student focused tours products. I am always looking at how we can best bring value to the business (understanding our business goals and how we work, so that my team can drive value) and my day-to-day activities include being organizationally focused. We are a central department in an international company, so I spend a lot of time communicating and ensuring that expectations are set, and we have alignment and prioritization across the business. The product managers on my team are driving individual requirements and work so I meet with them regularly to ensure that their work is aligned with cross-business strategy and share whatever context I can to help them drive their work successfully and keep their teams engaged.  

I spend a lot of time thinking about and influencing how we work cross-functionally, supporting communication and strategic alignment with my team and with stakeholders in other parts of the business, and driving a product management culture across the business so that we are always thinking critically about what questions to ask, what we are really trying to achieve and refining our goals and approach as we learn. 

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

My end goal was never a particular position, but to be in a role where I helped bring people together. to work effectively and efficiently, to work with smart people who were excited about their mission and to be in a position to help solve interesting puzzles. And to always feel like there was room for me to grow. Even now, I can see lots of different positions that would foster those goals but my current role definitely supplies all of them combined with interesting challenges. 

Though my career experiences have led me to this role, my life experiences have brought me to EF. Both my personal and professional experiences have allowed me to work and interact with all different kinds of people and recognize the value of different perspectives. This has shaped my personal and career growth and this very much aligns with EF’s mission. I also feel like I am living our mission every day on a much smaller scale by bringing different perspectives together and fostering communication all while serving the larger mission of helping spark mutual understanding by uniting people across borders and culture.  

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

I think there are many different flavors of product managers - some more visionary, some more operational. I think a key factor, whichever way you lean, is elevating your communication skills, remembering that the people on your team are key to your success and that how you talk about things - the words you use - matters. I have often thought of the product manager as the translator – between different perspectives, between the business users and technology or the external and the internal. Elevating your communication skills will help get people to buy in, will build confidence with your team and help you drive both the vision and the execution. Because communication and translation is so important to me, it feels great to work for an organization that is also helping people learn languages to communicate in a different way, and offering free resources to help people on their learning journey. 

Don’t be afraid of exposing what you don’t know. You don’t have to be the person who knows it all and sometimes, even if you think you have it figured out, you should ask questions anyway because you may learn something. 

Do the dirty work. Especially as you start out - but even later - you will learn by digging into the details. You will build camaraderie and confidence if you show that you aren’t afraid to get your hands dirty. Pitch in where you can, it will always come in handy in a different way later on. 

Find an advocate. This could be a mentor or a colleague, your manager or a team member. 

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

For my career trajectory, it really goes to the basics: Listening skills. Communication skills. Translation skills.  

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

The most interesting is also the most challenging. Seeing a cross-functional team hum and creating the right solution for the right problem. Taking the messiness of human dynamics, pressures of hard problems and tight timelines and making sense of them - creating a system that allows for creativity and precision. This includes coaching and (hopefully) inspiring. EF fosters the type of collaboration that is required to achieve the right results for the business. And also empowers everyone in the business to step into their strengths and influence the end result and the process along the way. We are a large organization that values thinking creatively. And we aren’t afraid of trying something scrappy to learn our way into the long term solution. Having spent most of my career in startups this was something that was important to me when I joined EF. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment? 

This is a hard one, but all of my proudest moments are reflected in the teams I have worked with. A recent major accomplishment, here at EF, that I am very proud of has been helping to drive through an (ongoing) series of challenges related to business reaction, customer experience and operational systems in reaction to COVID. We amped up our cross-team and cross-functional collaboration. We maintained laser focus on top priorities and “up-leveled" our communication. We delivered meaningful solutions to the business at lightning speed.  

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

Not currently in any in depth. I have participated with WITI in the past. I am definitely seeking new opportunities for this type of work right now. 


Q&A 

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 

I have 2 sons, ages 6 and 2, who keep me very busy. I love hiking with them and just experiencing their little brain gears turning. I also enjoy cooking, reading, and have done a lot of DIY construction over many years so I guess that is still something I enjoy :) 

Hillary Wyon EF

How do you manage stress? 

I really benefit from running, or other forms of exercise where I just have to focus by unplugging and getting out in nature whether in the woods or by the ocean. 

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

1 cup of decaf. I love coffee but only have caffeine on rare occasions.  

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

The Arnold Arboretum in Boston.  

Any book or podcast recommendations?  (professional or fun) 

  • I am definitely a true crime podcast junkie. So any and all.  
  • Song Exploder
  • Heavyweight 
  • The A16Z podcast
  • This is Product Management
  • Hidden Brain 

And more. When I was a kid I loved listening to the radio and would find these radio dramas to listen to so podcasts continue this for me. I love podcasts. 

What advice do you have for recent college graduates? 

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

About the
Company

Opening the world through education.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Brittney St. Germain, VP of Tech at Forward Financing banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Brittney St. Germain, VP of Tech at Forward Financing

Open Jobs Company Page

Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Brittney St. Germain, VP of Tech at Forward Financing.


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

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. I was a shy kid, studious, but also excited to see the world.

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

In college I started with psychology, then switched almost immediately to pursue a B.S. in Communications, probably because I thought it was a means to travel. After that I travelled through Europe, and then tended bar in Harvard Square before taking a job in tech support for a small software company.

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

I didn’t intend to get into technology as a career, but I always had technically minded friends. I hung out in the computer lab a lot in college. I seemed to naturally align myself with the nerds (Turns out I am one), and that was the beginning of the dot-com era, so that made my entry into a career in technology very smooth and natural. In retrospect that was a critical turning point for me.

For 15 years, I wore all the hats there are to wear, tech support, IT, DBA, software engineering, etc., and then I reached a second critical moment when I turned to what I jokingly call “the dark side,” management. I discovered that I love managing engineers. As it turns out, I intuitively understand the world the engineer lives in, and I get a real thrill from helping them simplify their processes, being their champion, and explaining their challenges and successes to the non-tech world. Great engineers make great products, which make successful companies, so I feel genuinely honored to represent them.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I am the Vice President of Technology at Forward Financing, responsible for the company’s overall tech strategy. That includes Product, Design, and Engineering all responsible for building our core products, as well as DevOps and IT Infrastructure.

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

No, and no.  The short answer is I always aimed to work on interesting projects with interesting and smart people. The longer answer is: I didn’t plan anything, strictly speaking. I followed the path that was in front of me once I discovered what I was good at. It’s not that I didn’t make any conscious career decisions. Of course, I did, but I think, at the risk of sounding corny, it’s a little more soulful than that, less calculated. I get a great feeling from plugging the right solutions into the right challenges, or the right people into the right teams.

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?

First, I’d say, “Congratulations! You have goals!”

Joking aside, I think you have to do things for the right reasons. It’s easy to look at career progress as a linear path, but be warned, leadership is hard and not for the faint of heart and shouldn’t be pursued because it’s the “next step”.  Seek out the challenges that light you up and accept where they lead you. Maybe you’ll climb whatever career ladder you think is in front of you, or maybe you’ll just work on a lot of stimulating projects and meet a bunch of great people. I’d say focus less on titles or prestige and more on interesting challenges. The rest will take care of itself.

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

I find that I do my job best when I have a team that trusts I have their best interests at heart. Key skills for creating that trust with not just those on my team, but those I work alongside are:

1) Listening - Hear what people are telling you.

2) Empathy - Put yourself in their position.

3) Curiosity - Learn from everyone around you,

4) Discernment - Make good, timely decisions.

5) Transparency - Show your cards, explain why you’re doing something, or why you’re making a decision. 

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

I love being the conduit between technology and the rest of the organization, the one who explains and simplifies the technical details, the product and design decisions so everyone else around my team can get the maximum benefit from what we do. I also love guiding product designers and engineers through their own decision making processes.

The most challenging part of my work is integrating all the personalities into a coherent team, but that’s also super rewarding.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

There are three things: watching the careers of those I’ve managed, past and present, continue to grow, having people that have worked for me reach out to tell me how they used a tool I gave them, or they thought back to how I managed a situation when they find themselves in something similar, and finally, knowing I’m playing a small part in creating some of the best technical leaders out there. 

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

I am a member of CHIEF, a women’s leadership group.  

I also run a neighborhood exercise group, called Suffer Club - we meet early in the morning before the sun rises to get our workouts done and our motto is “We suffer a little more in the hopes that others can suffer a little less”. Every dollar collected to take a class goes directly to a local charity that the group designates.  We regularly raise about $750/month!


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Running, hiking, paddle boarding, walking with the dog.

How do you manage stress?

Exercise and meditation. Spending time with my dog.

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

Two, in the morning and that’s it. I’d love to have a cup in the afternoon, but then I don’t sleep.

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

I love to sit on the steps of the Institute for Contemporary Art in the summer and watch boats come in and out of the harbor. I love our local woods, where I walk the dog. And I love the North Shore beaches.

Any book or podcast recommendations?

I nerd out hard on podcasts!

If you want to be inspired as a leader, you can’t go wrong with "Dare to Lead with Brene Brown"  If you only listen to one episode, I would recommend the episode with Abby Wambach and The New Rules of Leadership.

A lesser-known podcast that I totally geek out on is DarkNet Diaries with Jack Rhysider. They’re true stories from the dark web, wildly fascinating and also great for me professionally as I need to stay up on InfoSec trends.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Probably a repeat of what I’ve said above. Focus on finding work that’s interesting and puts you in the company of interesting and smart people, the rest will come together.

About the
Company

We are a Boston-based fintech company with the mission to build a world-class fintech company so that our people and our small business customers can achieve their full potential.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Sue Nolin, VP, North America Sales at Wasabi banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Sue Nolin, VP, North America Sales at Wasabi

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Sue Nolin, VP, North America Sales at Wasabi.


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

I grew up in Chicopee, Massachusetts. I have four siblings, thirty-three first cousins and I grew up in a neighborhood full of kids. There was always lots of activity and competition. Pickup softball, kickball and a crazy version of dodgeball called bombardment were commonplace. 

I have lots of extended family in Quebec and in various parts of the U.S. Annual family reunions were also common. They always involved breaking into teams and playing physical and brain teaser games into the evenings.  Remember the potato-sack race in the movie Meatballs?  Yeah, that was us. 

What did you study in college and what was your first job in tech?

I have an English degree from North Adams State College, now known as the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. I met my husband there and am very grateful for the lifelong friends I also met there.

I was in my early twenties when I landed my first job in technology on the customer service team at Motorola Codex. At the time, I was simply looking for a local job. Luckily, tech is strong in Massachusetts, so I discovered a world that was new to me, and truly challenging. 

Those early days at Motorola introduced me to professionals who I admired and who gave me the opportunity to begin a high-tech career. I learned about networking. I also learned valuable lessons about how tech businesses run. When I left Motorola, I had spent time in customer service, sales, and marketing roles and met the colleagues who would introduce me to the exciting world of startup companies. 

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

My career path is an evolution of first understanding technology and then understanding startup businesses.

I left college with a solid liberal arts degree, but not a clear understanding of what I wanted from a career. I was raised by parents who demonstrated the importance of hard work, self-reliance, creative learning, and fun. They always emphasized that it was important to be kind, honest, and especially to do my best. Wherever I worked, I was driven to do well. 

The startup world is fast-paced and usually has “just enough” resources. While sales became my preferred role, working for startups afforded me the opportunity to contribute to many parts of the business at once. I especially came to learn that I enjoy understanding complex topics and effectively communicating those topics in simple ways. Also, I really like competing. Emerging startup technology satisfies all those interests well. 

There were various critical moments that made a difference in my career path. 

I’m grateful to the manager who convinced me to leave the stability of Motorola for the riskier world of startups. I was a member of, and eventually led, early stage inside sales teams. I was also very lucky to join several startup companies that succeeded, especially when there are so many that fail. I came to learn about the delicate balance of things needed for successful startups.

Lastly, my career would not be where it is today without the people who have trusted the work I do and who gave me such amazing opportunities. I met, Marty Falaro, Wasabi’s EVP and COO, back when we were a lot younger at a startup called Altiga. Altiga was eventually acquired by Cisco and became their main VPN technology. Marty has trusted my decisions here at Wasabi and he encouraged me to move from the role of Inside Sales Director to VP of North America Sales. I am humbled that Marty and others along the way recognized my ability and are taking me along their journey to success.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I am the VP of North America Sales at Wasabi, the hot cloud storage company. I oversee Account Executive and Inside Sales teams who manage channel and direct sales relationships with Wasabi’s fast-growing number of partners and customers. 

When I joined Wasabi in 2017, I was Marty Falaro’s first sales hire. Marty is growing worldwide Sales and I oversee the rapidly growing North America team. I am extremely proud of how hard this team works. While COVID-19 has changed our day-to-day interactions, the team continues to produce outstanding results. Daily, they demonstrate that they enjoy this crazy, fun and fast-paced startup world as much as I do.

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

Not at all. The younger me thought she would eventually be a schoolteacher. The path that led me here started by chance, but when I discovered emerging technology sales, I was hooked.  This industry allows me to constantly learn. I am never bored.

I recently found a journal from my freshman year of college that said, “I can’t imagine staying in the same job for more than 5 years. It sounds so boring.”  Ironically, startup technology changes rapidly and is never ever boring. So, while this career wasn’t my defined goal, I am very happy to be in the position I’m in today. It gives me the opportunity to educate my team and my customers on new technologies and that satisfies my desire to teach. 

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?

For young people looking to get into tech sales, I recommend spending a year or two at a public tech firm that provides formal sales training. A startup will gladly train you on their unique technology, but they’ll want you to hit the ground running and won’t want to teach the skill of selling. Build a strong foundation. It will help you throughout your career. 

Also, do not be shy about approaching people you admire in your networks. These people take pride in helping you succeed and can become great resources later on. 

For those who are considering a career with startups, be sure to research the company you’ll work for. We often compare a startup company to an airplane that is being built in flight. That airplane has a much better chance of flying successfully if the pilot, the engineers, the mechanics, the flight crew, etc. have done it before. I’m blessed to have that here at Wasabi.  

If you’re thinking of joining a startup that’s launching a hot new product (a “fancy new airplane”) and it has a less-experienced crew, be sure that crew is getting loads of advice from those who have done it before. 

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

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

Communication. It’s such a simple word, but it’s loaded. Now more than ever, prospects and customers communicate by email. So, it is critical to have proper spelling and grammar skills. I recommend taking a business writing course. This will teach you how to write short but effective sentences that resonate. My teams understand that they will never land a meeting if they start an interaction with a poorly written email.  

Additionally, listening is the strongest part of communication. It is important to listen well and prove that you are listening by repeating what you heard and respectfully addressing the questions asked. Your customer’s agenda is far more important than your own agenda. So be sure to listen. 

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

There are several rewarding factors to my work. 

Most of all, as a manager, I love seeing my team succeed and I love to help them grow. It’s a great feeling to see sales representatives close big deals or receive a promotion. It is truly awesome to celebrate these wins with them.

I also enjoy having a strong impact on the success of the company I work for. It feels good to know that the work I do makes a difference. 

The most challenging is that there are not enough hours in the day. I laugh about this because it’s self-inflicted! Wasabi strongly encourages a healthy work/life balance. I love seeing our progress and success, and since my work makes a difference, I tend to do more of it. We’re just a little crazy about doing more around here. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

As mentioned earlier, I am most proud of being able to help young people succeed. It’s a heartwarming feeling that never gets old. I’ve had the pleasure of introducing interns to high-tech; introducing young sales reps to startups; and promoting others to manage their own teams. Each of these have been selfishly satisfying. 

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

At the invitation of Lou Shipley, a Wasabi board member, I was recently a sales coach for the Entrepreneurial Sales class at the Harvard Business School. I was flattered to join the ranks of impressive sales coaches and to also share my knowledge with young and extremely bright graduate students.  That teacher-wannabe in me thoroughly enjoyed the experience.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I find energy and peace outdoors and I’m not picky about where that is! My husband and I spend a lot of summer weekends at the Cape Cod canal. We live in a rural area of central Massachusetts and love having friends over for bonfires. And I can’t wait to be back in the office, walking through the streets of Back Bay Boston. 

How do you manage stress?

I start every day with either a workout or a two-mile walk, powered by classic rock. Nothing says motivation like Bob Seger live. I love ending the workday at the dinner table with my husband and my niece who lives with us while she attends grad school. We laugh a lot.

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

At least three cups before noon. Sleep is so important to me, so no coffee after noon!

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

I was introduced to Back Bay, Boston when I joined Wasabi. I had no idea how diverse this area is. Walking throughout Back Bay is like walking through live artwork. It’s got great history, parks, businesses, residential areas, restaurants, and shopping. 

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

Back when I commuted, I was big on audio books. The last one I enjoyed was The Life of Pi. Loved it.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

If a college grad is looking to get into high-tech sales or startups, then I’d refer to what I mentioned earlier. For those who graduate not yet knowing what they want to do for work, explore the parts of your character that aren’t immediately associated with work.  Do you like to socialize a lot or only a little? Do you like to read or analyze a lot? Are you crafty and prefer to design and build things?  Then, see if your work satisfies those parts of your character. It’s ok to move on until you find a place that feels right.  

About the
Company

Lead(H)er Profile - Kady Srinivasan, SVP of Marketing at Klaviyo banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Kady Srinivasan, SVP of Marketing at Klaviyo

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Kady Srinivasan, SVP of Marketing at Klaviyo.


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

I grew up in Bangalore, in south India during a time when India was rapidly coming into the new capitalistic economy from a previous socialist bias. As a child I grew up seeing my parents and relatives choosing careers that ensured long term employment, pension benefits and stability- primarily in the government sector. As a teenager, I witnessed the complete reversal in terms of the more lucrative opportunities being in the private sector bringing with them the concepts of high growth, high risk that were totally alien to my parents’ generation. So you could say I was a pretty confused child. I had the concepts of loyalty, thrift and value of education drilled into me as a child but as I made my way through high school, it became pretty clear I craved the excitement, hustle and risk taking of being in the “new” economy. Life was a constant balancing act between what I was drawn to and what I was reared to.

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

Like a lot of indians in my generation, I figured studying engineering would give me access to the new jobs being created by software companies in India at that time. I studied computer science and engineering and I have always had a bent towards logic based problem solving, so it was a decent education. My first job out of school was working for Intel as a software programmer. I learnt a ton of languages like C, C++, Java etc that I have come to realize have become the currency of the new world. My belief is that most areas of business, medicine and education, at a minimum will undergo significant disruption fueled by technology and having a conversant grasp of how the language of software works is crucial for anyone wanting to be successful in those fields.

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

I call myself a failed software engineer turned marketer. I was pretty bad as an engineer but even as a software engineer, I was always interested in business. By the time I was 24, I had read authors like Drucker and Stephen Covey which only fueled further interest in business. I decided to go to UNC to pursue an MBA. The only problem was I didn't really know what I wanted to do with an MBA. I tried learning almost every discipline during the 2 years - finance, accounting, supply chain - the only discipline I actively stayed away from was marketing. I was fairly contemptuous of marketing because it seemed to have a lot of big words and big personalities. So I decided to go into consulting because I couldn't make up my mind. I loved consulting because it exposed me to all kinds of altitudes of problems - big and small, strategic and tactical, one project deciding the price of bread for Walmart in the AK region, another deciding how to optimize direct store delivery for Coke. Along the way I had an epiphany that I loved delving into all problems that drove market share, penetration top line growth and realized this sum total of problems represented marketing. I decided to build a career in marketing and deliberately started to take on multiple roles in multiple industries to start rounding out my craft in marketing. Along the way, I have had various responsibilities within various functional leadership roles in marketing in entertainment and gaming, technology and connected devices. Each of them had their special epiphany moment that contributed to where I am today.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I serve as Klaviyo’s head of marketing where I have responsibility over all aspects of how we go to market with Klaviyo’s product and brand. I see my role as three fold - being a custodian of the Klaviyo brand (how we show up, how we align our brand to customer expectations and how we internally align the organization to our brand ambition), driving commercial success of our platform by aligning the distribution models with our messaging (how we advertise, how we create the right value proposition and messaging and how we enable our go to market partners to be successful), and building a high performance team (attracting and retaining talent, providing an environment where people can succeed and intertwining with the fabric of the company so that we make everyone successful).

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

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

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?

Well my path to CMO/head of marketing has been fairly unusual so my series of steps may not work for everyone. However I have realized there are 5 timeless truths that will help anyone who is either looking to get to this role (or whatever role this will be in 10 years time), or generally be successful in whatever they are trying to go after

  • Put yourself in uncomfortable situations - Given the speed with which the world is changing, unless you are constantly learning, you will fall behind. The best way to pack a lot of learning into a very short amount of time is to take on a job where you probably know 50% of what to do. It's highly uncomfortable and very very hard but that's the only way to optimize for long term success

  • Learn some hard skills - I can’t understate the importance of having a net of hard skills, It could be programming, it could be excel manipulation, it could data analysis, but no matter your role, particularly in marketing, this will be more and more needed in the future. 

  • Be totally authentic - Someone famous said don't be the best, be the only. There is literally no point in wasting time being someone else when you can be the best you possible. Again it's not easy to do, you will have constant doubts, you will want to be like everyone else, but realize that being authentic is not only the other option but being anything else will set you back

  • Hold your goals lightly but path tightly - I know of plenty of people who never thought they would end up where they did but almost all of them had discipline, rigor, a deep learning mentality and they never compromised on that. I do believe being flexible on your goals but being really clear on how you spend your day/week/life is important

  • Be additive - Life is a team sport. We can’t go at anything alone. Being additive to people and situations not only makes things fun, it makes things way way more satisfying and meaningful. Add to your employees, peers, your boss, your family, your community - in whatever little ways you alone can

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

There are a number of actual functional skills I need to do my job well. For example, I need to be a storyteller, I need to understand the latest changes in the advertising landscape, I need to understand how to position a product better, I need to understand how to create more inbound demand etc. However, in my opinion there are more strategic, meta skills that will trily differentiate me from others and to be honest will help me continue to grow and develop over time.

  • Constructing a mental model: To do my job well, I need to bring all the pieces of marketing together into a cohesive “system” that operates as one big interlocking system of gears. For that, I need to build a mental model of how everything comes together, what the intersection points are, what the overlaps are, where things are in conflict etc.The faster I can build this mental model, the more nuanced I can make it, the better I am at my job
  • Operating rhythms: I run a large team, I can’t run a team this size without being a good operator ie setting up the operating rhythms, processes and workflows that enable everything to be aligned and rowing in the same direction. This requires putting on my administrator hat at least in the beginning

  • Leadership: My super power is recognizing talent - especially understanding and identifying potential that sometimes people themselves miss. Without investing significantly in people and talent, nothing really happens. This is probably one of the most important skills that I need to do my job well

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

We have a product that is growing amazingly well organically, our customers love us - so much that they take us with them wherever they go. All of this despite the fact that almost no one knows about us. Our product is so deep and complex that half the time we can’t explain what it is truly that we do. That's the most rewarding thing about my work - is figuring out how to tell the world what we do and why in a way that not only resonates but also gets more people to realize what they can do with us. In addition, I am excited about the possibility of creating a social movement about how SMBs, ecommerce businesses can own their own destiny. More to come on that soon :)

The most challenging is the lack of time. Someone more clever than me said, it's not a time problem, it's a prioritization problem. However given what the world needs right now, I do think we are running up against time constraints - so I am working constantly, my team is working constantly and I am worried about burnout on different levels

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

When I worked for a smart baby monitor company, I was 6 months into the job when the pandemic hit us. Our demand dried up, people delayed purchases and we came close to taking big decisions on downsizing. However, working with my team, I started a series of marketing and revenue programs that turned things around. Not only did we do well, we grew 2x during the pandemic, kept our people and their salaries, and continued to give our customers the best quality product and service that they needed to keep their babies safe. I have never been more proud.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I have a ton of activities that I am interested in - bollywood dancing, working out, hiking, surfing and any water related activities. Fortunately my son is also an extremely active kid so our whole family does a bunch of outdoor things together. We are planning a hike to Macchu Picchu in the near future :)

How do you manage stress?

Reading books is my one big stress buster. I love getting lost in the realm of fantasy and imagination. My secret hope is to write a fantasy book someday :)

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

Oh man, At least 3. But I also drink chai and black tea. So my caffeine consumption is through the roof
 

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

South end. A friend of mine took me around and I absolutely loved it

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

The PIvot is a great podcast. I can offer a ton of book recommendations - my favorite ones of all time: Leadership is Language, Sapiens, The Art of Impossible, Smarter, Faster, Better, Daring Greatly
 

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Don't worry :) It will all work out as long as you keep pushing towards your destination. Figure out how to focus on your strengths, shore up your weaknesses with people, technology or time and keep learning every single day. And remember kindness pays back multiple fold.

About the
Company

Klaviyo (pronounced “clay-vee-oh”) is a marketing platform that helps businesses of every size deliver amazing experiences to their customers across email, SMS, and other owned channels. By leveraging the power of data, we help businesses own their marketing and build their customer base.

We refer to our employees as ‘Klaviyos’, and we make up a diverse community united around shared values: We’re curious, collaborative, driven, innovative, fun, and fully ourselves at work. No matter which team you join, your work won’t just impact Klaviyo. It’ll help empower our customers and enable creators across the globe to own their destinies.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Lauren Lowman, VP of Marketing at Ordergroove banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Lauren Lowman, VP of Marketing at Ordergroove

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Lauren Lowman, VP of Marketing at Ordergroove.


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

I grew up in a small town in South Carolina. As a child, I was fairly shy and not comfortable having the spotlight on me. But as I approached my teens, I grew out of my shell. In high school I founded our first volunteer based service club, was Senior Class Vice President, and was voted Most Friendly. To this day, I find that while I’m fairly extroverted, I’m not someone who relishes being the center of attention.

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

I went to the University of South Carolina and double majored in Marketing and Business Management. I’m not sure I had the foresight at the age of 18 to know that I wanted a career in marketing, but the leadership roles I carried in high school helped me find my interest in business.

When I graduated, I joined a company called Belden as a part of their Leadership Development Program for sales and marketing. My first role was an Inside Sales Representative where I learned the ins and outs of electrical cabling and connectivity. It was great to gain the experience of carrying a quota, building relationships, and learning value based selling. 

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

I spent four years at Belden. Three of those years I rotated through various individual contributor roles including sales, partner marketing, and product marketing. I spent my final year with the company leading product marketing, content, design, and lead qualification/development. After leaving Belden, I moved to a Product Marketing role at Trustpilot. After a few years, I was promoted to oversee Demand Generation for the US, and with time had global Content, Digital, and Marketing Operations added to my plate. 

I feel very lucky to have had considerable career progression at both of my previous companies.

As I reflect on how I’ve progressed in my career, I attribute a lot of my success to saying “yes” to new opportunities and additional work responsibilities. I’ve always tried to play the long game when it comes to my career, meaning filling in gaps in responsibilities, even if it's not technically a part of my role and thinking of them as opportunities to learn something new. This approach has sometimes come at the expense of appropriate compensation, title, or credit, but I believe it has enabled me to learn new skills and gain expertise in various areas of marketing and beyond.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I’m currently the VP of Marketing at Ordergroove, the leading subscription platform for retail and eCommerce businesses. My responsibilities include developing a high performing team, accelerating sales growth through demand generation and qualification, creating content and messaging that positions our brand as a market leader, and enabling and engaging our partner ecosystem.

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

I’ve always enjoyed all areas of marketing, leading teams, helping people develop professionally, and building things from the ground up. I also really enjoy marketing to marketers and being in the eCommerce space. Reflecting back, the stars seemed to have aligned.

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?

The single biggest piece of advice I have for someone looking to lead a department or team is to be open to trying new things, not be afraid of taking on new responsibilities, and take risks. While it’s absolutely important to set boundaries for your workload and mental health, if you have interest in leading a team then getting hands-on experience in the various areas you want to oversee will allow you to better connect the dots so you can create a holistic strategy and empathize with your team.

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

At the moment, the ability to think strategically but act tactically is key to making consistent progress toward our long-term goals. Vision of where the market is going and how to best position the business is critical, along with the ability to analyze and interpret data. I also think the ability to be flexible and resilient is critical for Marketing leaders to be successful. It's not uncommon for businesses to pivot, especially at an earlier stage, and marketing leaders need to be ready and willing to adjust their strategy and plans with it. 

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

Watching my team drive toward critical business outcomes is by far the most rewarding. We’re a new team, but over the last few months we’ve started hitting our stride and setting records when it comes to lead and pipeline generation.

The most challenging part of my job right now is figuring out what we’re not going to do or what we’re not going to perfect. The perfectionist in me doesn’t like launching things that are incomplete or imperfect, but it allows us to learn faster through tests and iterations. 


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Pre-COVID, I enjoyed traveling, exploring new neighborhoods with my husband in NYC, and spending time with friends and family. Nowadays, my free time is spent more on cooking and baking.

How do you manage stress?

Talking through business challenges with my husband, mentors, or members of my network helps me gain new perspectives and crystalize my thoughts. I lean on my network and mentors to turn my stress into solutions. Spending time with friends and family usually helps me stay grounded and refocus on the important things in life.

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

Usually just one. If I’m having a second cup of coffee then it’s likely been a long day. 

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

I’m a Kara Swisher fan, so I enjoy listening to Pivot and Sway podcasts. I also enjoy a good murder mystery podcast. And my favorite book that I’ve listened to on tape recently was Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Don’t settle, but also don’t wait for the perfect job. Trying new things and figuring out what you enjoy and don’t enjoy is key to eventually landing a role you’ll be happy and successful in long-term. And failing is a part of the process.

About the
Company

We are marketers, engineers, and innovators creating the future of Relationship Commerce.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Erin Byrne, Vice President of North America Sales at Recorded Future banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Erin Byrne, Vice President of North America Sales at Recorded Future

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Erin Byrne, Vice President of North America Sales at Recorded Future.


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

I grew up in Hudson, New Hampshire and would best describe myself as a curious and adventurous child. I had two older siblings who were very smart and athletic so I had no choice but to keep up! If I wasn’t playing basketball, soccer, or tennis, I was outside exploring in the woods or riding my bike. I was used to a fast-paced lifestyle with all the activities that come along with three siblings and we were always traveling to see our extended family in upstate New York. 

Erin Byrne Recorded Future

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

I studied Political Science in college. I was a walk-on for the women’s basketball team at George Mason University in Virginia my freshman year, but decided to transfer to the University of Connecticut after my first year and retired from Division 1 basketball. After graduating from UCONN, I went back to D.C. to earn my Masters in Public Administration from George Mason University. I always thought I would be in the FBI, CIA, or work for the government. I loved learning about history, politics and foreign policy and D.C. was the perfect city for that.

My first job out of college was at Raytheon in their International Division. I started there as an intern while in graduate school and they offered me a job when I graduated. While there, I worked in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia Region and loved every moment of it! I remember when I accepted the job offer they told me I would be going to Dubai a few months later. There was no looking back when I took that job and I traveled all over the world and got to do some pretty incredible things both personally and professionally.

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

My first critical career move was taking the job at Raytheon after graduate school. The skills I developed and the experiences I went through in the different roles I had there set a foundation for me to think big and understand that anything is possible. I was working with three and four star generals and individuals who were way more experienced than me. Given that much responsibility in my early 20s, I had to learn to swim or would sink fast! They’ve continued to be good friends and mentors throughout my career.

After living in D.C. for six years, I thought I should move back up north and the perfect job became available at one of the companies Raytheon acquired selling their Boomerang product line in the Middle East and North Africa. Taking that job and leaving the network I built up in DC was risky but it was one of the best decisions I ever made. It got me closer to my friends and family and I was working on a sniper detection system that was saving soldiers’ lives in the war. I was also able to continue my travels to the Middle East and North Africa where I developed many professional relationships and friendships over the years, so it was a win-win all around.

The last critical career move I made was joining Recorded Future, a 30-person startup in Harvard Square. I can remember my breaking point at Raytheon and I knew I needed a change and wanted to do something completely different. At the time, I don’t think I really understood how risky the move was but I’m glad it worked out the way it did! Here I am, eight years later running sales for North America. I still remember my first day on the job like it was yesterday. I was coming from a 80,000 person company where I had my own office the size of a bedroom and wore pant/dress suits every day for five years. I showed up for the new gig on the sixth floor of an old building with two other companies in the shared workspace, had my new laptop, was way over dressed, and started making cold calls. I loved every moment of it!

What is your current role and responsibilities? 

I run sales for North America at Recorded Future. It’s roughly a $100M business this year spread across five teams. I’m responsible for our new business and also our existing client base of 600+ customers. The job is so rewarding because we’re arming governments and private organizations with security intelligence to disrupt their adversaries and stop attackers in their tracks. When I left Raytheon, I started to see the shift to cyber warfare and I couldn’t have ended up in a better place to continue the mission! 

Erin Byrne Recorded Future

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

This is not where I thought I would be but I’m very happy it’s where I ended up. I had such a passion for intelligence work that I really thought I’d be working in the government. I loved my role at Raytheon and couldn’t wait to try something new with a small company that focused on intelligence but I never thought I could have such an impact and be where I am today. 

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

Pave your own way. Seek advice from all kinds of leaders, take what you like most and make it your own. Always be ready to adapt and learn, no one has all the answers. Be patient, don’t climb too fast too soon, all those steps along the way prepare you for the roles ahead. 

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

To be an effective sales leader you have to be able to deal with all kinds of people. Communication, empathy, adaptability are all critical but at the end of the day, you have to know how to motivate and lead your team. Be relatable, be humble, be human and that will go a long way. 

Erin Byrne Recorded Future

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

I love the people. I’ve been lucky enough to build a great team that works extremely hard and are passionate about the company and the mission and that’s really rewarding. We win and we lose together, but nothing feels better than winning and helping our clients defend against cyber criminals. The biggest challenge is managing through all the change when you’re growing at such a fast pace.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment? 

Recorded Future. I started when we were doing under $1M in revenue and we’ll be at $200M+ this year. There has been a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get where we are today. Every year there are new challenges and opportunities and it’s been an incredible journey that has taught me so many things I’ll take with me throughout the rest of my career.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Running, skiing, paddleboarding, traveling. I love the sound of the ocean and the mountains for hiking and skiing. 

Erin Byrne Recorded Future

How do you manage stress?

Working out!

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

1 strong cup. Coffee is one of my favorite things so I invested in a good coffee machine years ago and it’s the highlight of my morning!

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

Running along the Esplanade and a weekend trip to Nantucket!

Any book or podcast recommendations?

I’m trying to read more fiction but I always wind up back on nonfiction...One of my favorite books of all time is Shantaram. I’m currently reading “A Woman of No Importance” which is a true story about an American Spy who helped win WWII.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

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

About the
Company

Recorded Future delivers advanced security intelligence to disrupt adversaries, empower defenders, and protect organizations. Recorded Future intelligence is ready for integration across the security ecosystem.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Zoe Silverman, VP of People at Yesware banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Zoe Silverman, VP of People at Yesware

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Zoe Silverman, VP of People at Yesware.


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

Northampton, Massachusetts, in what’s known as “The Happy Valley.” I’ve always been a pretty  equal combo of the blue and gold True Colors personality types. Basically, that means I’m part sensitive and emotional, and part focused and organized. 

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

I double-majored in Sociology and Leadership Studies, with a concentration in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies. My first job out of school was as an entry-level inside sales rep for a tech company in Boston that went public while I was there (thanks to me I’m sure). It was a challenging, fun, and exciting environment to be in and a great introduction the tech industry. I’m forever grateful for that experience.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I currently run our People Operations function. We do a little of everything -- from payroll and benefits, to talent acquisition, to DEI, to employee engagement -- the list goes on! I’m also part of the Executive Team. Right now we’re doing a lot of planning for 2021, so my role is to think about things like hiring, compensation, moving to remote-first, things like that. Lots of interesting problems to tackle! 

Zoe Silverman Yesware

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

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

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

Emotional intelligence is by far the most important skill for me. Being able to context-switch/ multi-task different kinds of work is also important since our team works in more of a generalist approach rather than a specialist one. 

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

It’s always really rewarding when I see people advance within the company or take on new roles in other departments. That’s really the pinnacle of what we’re trying to do in People Ops - find great people and then empower them to grow with the business. At Yesware, we have people who have been promoted multiple times, we have people who have held different roles, and we have people who have been with us for many years -- all of this is what’s most rewarding to me. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

A few that really stick out to me are: when Yesware reached gender parity and became a 50% female organization, when we won our first best place to work award, and when I was invited to join our Executive team. 


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I like to clean and organize things. That’s my gold side coming out! 

How do you manage stress?

Snuggling my dog works every time. It’s the Fritos paws. 

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

One year on my birthday I treated myself to the Tea Room at the Boston Public Library. It was magical and made me feel super fancy. Highly recommend! 

Any book or podcast recommendations?

Books -- anything by Brené Brown. Podcasts -- Hidden Brain with Shankar Vedantam on NPR.

About the
Company

Yesware is your all-in-one toolkit for sales professionals and sales teams.

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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

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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.”

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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. ”

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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

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