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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Molly Donaher Toast

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


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

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

What are your strategies for managing stress?

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

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

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

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

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

What do you consider one of your proudest accomplishments?

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

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

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

What’s your advice for recent college graduates?

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


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

About the
Company

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

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Lead(H)er profile - Stephanie Bourdage-Braun, Head of Technology Operations at SS&C Intralinks banner image

Lead(H)er profile - Stephanie Bourdage-Braun, Head of Technology Operations at SS&C Intralinks

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Growing up in Quebec, Stephanie Bourdage-Braun never aspired to climb the corporate ladder, and her ascendance to her current position as Head of Technology Operations at SS&C Intralinks is a testament to her natural curiosity and fearlessness.

SS&C Intralinks provides cloud-based financial technology for global banking, dealmaking, and capital markets. “Basically, we deliver virtual data room solutions that support dealmakers, corporate development and finance professionals” explains Stephanie.  “Companies looking to buy another company or offer their company for sale can use the Intralinks data room to share relevant information with each other. Our solutions are secure, reliable and auditable”

Because Intralinks is a SaaS (Software as a Service) company, it is accessed through the internet, which means that Stephanie’s team of 90 must ensure that the software is available, reliable, and secure at all times. “We’re responsible for release engineering, database support, performance testing, security, automation, networking and infrastructure. If you want software that’s reliable, you need people to be focused on making that happen. It’s a big job.” 

Stephanie didn’t start off with a big job. She attended University of Sherbrooke, where she studied business, with a concentration in management information systems. “I always loved computers, but I didn’t want to be a programmer. I thought you had to be a math whiz, and that wasn’t my thing.” 

After graduation, her first position was in technical support, answering phones at a small software company that provided tablets for physicians. In 1995, while surfing the internet on her dial-up connection, Stephanie came across a job board. “I saw this job working with collaboration software, Lotus Notes, and I thought it looked interesting. I wasn’t sure if I was qualified, but I figured I could learn it. So on a whim, I applied!”

A few weeks later, Stephanie received a call from an area code she didn’t recognize. “It turned out to be from Seagate, a tech company that makes hard drives.” After a series of interviews, she was offered the position of Lotus Notes administrator — in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Just for context, Quebec is a place where people grow up and stay put, because you speak French. People thought I was crazy to leave. But I thought, I need something bigger.”

Stephanie started by taking a week-long training class. Not only would this class teach her to be a Lotus Notes administrator and launch her into her career, it would also alter the trajectory of her personal life. She met her husband during the class, and the two of them eventually moved to Boston, where Stephanie’s expertise with Lotus Notes landed her a job at IBM. She would work at IBM for the next 19 years.

“The beautiful thing about IBM is that you can be whoever you want to be. If you can convince someone you can do the job, you can do it. You find out what you love, but also what you never want to do again.” Stephanie moved from managing a field support team into business operations, then marketing (which she didn’t like) and product management (which she did like), and finally ended up as Director of SaaS Operations. “I would enter a position, learn it for a few years, then ask, what can I do next?”

Stephanie was enticed to work at Intralinks by a former IBM colleague. One of the first things she had to do was convince the company to upgrade their infrastructure. “I had to get them to understand that if you don’t replace the network, you won’t have a business any more,” she says. “It’s been rewarding to make things happen. I see how much the team has accomplished, in terms of stabilizing the product, improving reliability, the numbers don’t lie.”

But even though Stephanie’s title is “Head of Technical Operations,” the most important skills, she says, “are not technical skills. My team does that. As a leader, I have to enable my team. I have to take technical issues and explain them to the rest of the company, frame the problem so the person who’s in charge signs on the dotted line.” How does she do that? “Sometimes when you’re trying to convince someone to do something, you explain the benefits. But sometimes you also have to explain what blows up if you don’t!” 

As for what makes Stephanie proudest? “Helping people do their best. I have to be the one breaking down barriers, making sure that leadership understands what my team needs.” She is also the one rallying the troops, “making people feel like they’re part of something big. Emotional intelligence, empathy, knowing where people are coming from is really important. Making sure my team knows I care, so they should care, too.” 


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I have two kids, 13 and 15, so there’s a lot of chauffeuring, and my husband and I try to divide and conquer. But we love doing things with the kids. I also like reading, skiing in the winter, walking. 

What are your strategies for managing stress?

Taking the time to do those things. There’s always a pile of work, but I’ll tell myself ‘right now I’m going to cook dinner, I’m going to have dinner with my family.’ A role like mine can be 24/7, so I’ve learned I really need to disconnect. 

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

Two. If I have coffee after 2pm I won’t sleep, so I’m very disciplined!

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

I live in Acton, but when I get a chance I love to go into the city, go shopping, go to the theater, Celtics games. Boston is a beautiful city, despite the traffic!

What do you consider one of your proudest accomplishments?

Looking at where I came from, I’d say having the courage to pick up and go. I remember leaving Montreal, landing in Minneapolis all by myself with three big suitcases. I loaded them up on my cart, went to get the rental car, and then all the suitcases tumbled off the cart and I was in tears! I was so lonely. But I kept going, and I pushed the envelope every step of the way. I’m not someone who ever said ‘I’m going to be a CEO,’ but I figured out what I was good at, and kept building on that. That’s how my whole career has been.

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

No. Ten years ago I was in a director role at IBM, so I thought I’d still be there. I also never thought I’d climb the corporate ladder, but the last few years have accelerated that, and I’m enjoying the ride. 

What’s your advice for recent college graduates?

Look for things you want to do. When you put yourself in a place where you’re excited to go to work, it shows, it makes people want to work with you. And when you love what you do, the sky is the limit. Don’t be scared of doing new things, just go for it!


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

About the
Company

SS&C Intralinks is the leading provider of technology-enabled services for the global banking, dealmaking and capital markets industries.

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Lead(H)er profile - Lauren Zajac, Chief Legal Officer at Workhuman banner image

Lead(H)er profile - Lauren Zajac, Chief Legal Officer at Workhuman

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In her past twelve years as Chief Legal Officer at Workhuman (formally Globoforce), Lauren Zajac has managed to find what most people only dream of: a job that is professionally challenging, emotionally satisfying, and aligned with her core personal values.

Workhuman is an HR technology company that is humanizing the future of work located in Framingham, MA and Dublin, Ireland. “Our mission is ‘to make work more human.’ We essentially sell thank-you’s,” says Lauren, who majored in English at Boston College before attending law school at Hofstra University, and considers herself “an analytical person.” Prior to joining Workhuman, she worked in-house for several software companies, “though none of them sold into the HR space.”

Lauren explains Workhuman as “all about appreciating people for what they do - making gratitude a business strategy. For stepping up, for thinking out of the box, for bringing a different perspective, or having the bravery to raise their voices or suggest different ways of doing things.” The company’s clients include hospital consortiums, financial services companies, banks, and technology firms. In twelve years, Lauren has watched these companies build their corporate cultures from the ground up. “Seeing what a program of recognition does for a company, for relationships, for day-to-day interactions, it’s actually miraculous.”

As an example, she cites JetBlue. “Every time one of us gets on a JetBlue plane, we’ll ask the folks manning the flight, do you use your Lift program? Inevitably, they love it, they’ll talk about it for fifteen minutes. It’s a great experience.”

As Chief Legal Officer, Lauren’s day-to-day responsibilities include managing a team of six lawyers, keeping abreast of legal compliance issues, managing the company’s intellectual property portfolio, and dealing with any labor and employment issues that arise.

As to what makes for a strong in-house legal team? “A lot of time people will say to me, oh, corporate counsel, you must read a lot of contracts. But to be a really good in-house lawyer, you also need to be able to see the whole picture. That means understanding the inner workings of the company, from multiple perspectives.” For Lauren, this can range from sitting with sales teams and negotiating contracts, to listening in on initial contacts to see what resonates with clients, to going behind the scenes with developers to understand how end-users interact with the software. “If you really understand the company, soup to nuts, from initial contact to product delivery, that perspective helps.” She encourages the members of her team to “know a little  about a lot of different things.”

Lauren says that learning to access knowledge has also been an important part of her success. “As a lawyer, the buck often stops with you, and when something goes wrong, inevitably someone will say, well, what do we do?” Lawyers are trained to bring different threads together to make an informed decision, “but often times you don’t have all the information you need. So the key is to build relationships within the company, so you can access whatever information you don’t have personally. You need that to be quick and confident in your decision making.”

Lauren thinks of herself as particularly lucky to have landed at Workhuman. “It has turned into a strange confluence of the things I love as General Counsel and the things I’m passionate about as an individual,” she says. She particularly values the opportunities she gets to speak with industry thought leaders. “As a female executive, I feel strongly about a lot of topics, including equal pay, diversity and inclusion, and making sure different voices are heard.” Making sure these issues are addressed in her own company, and then at others, “that’s really gratifying.”

Outside of work, Lauren is involved with Boston’s Science Club For Girls, and helps with their annual charity event. She is also Chair of the Board of LeaderMom, an organization that strives to create community and supports for executives who are also mothers.

Lauren feels immensely grateful that she has managed to align career path, personal goals, and outside interests in such a synergistic way. She remembers this every day when she makes time to meditate. “Work is fast-paced, but meditation is really helpful,” she says, “because I remember that I’m choosing to do all of these different things.”


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I have three children who play three different sports. That takes up a lot of time. I have a son who is 14, my twin girls are 11, so basically I’m spectator, chauffeur, videographer!

What are your strategies for managing stress?

I meditate every single day. When I was in high school and early college, I started practicing yoga, but the thing that has resonated with me most and that I’m able to do with my limited time is meditate. I’m bringing a practice of gratitude to every day, for the littlest things, and that definitely brings my stress level down.

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

I’m down to one and a half! I’ve been trying to switch to green tea.

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

I love the North End. I’m half Irish and half Italian, and when my grandmother came to Boston she lived in the North End. Her dad was a tailor, he made clothes, and she’d point out to me where they used to live, right off Hanover Street. 

What do you consider one of your proudest accomplishments?

I think it’s an amalgamation, but right now, being in a place where I can mentor, and bring some of my hard-earned, slog-it-through experience to other people, maybe impart some wisdom and save others from the missteps I went through myself — that’s important to me.

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

It’s where I hoped I would be!

What’s your advice for recent college graduates?

Try to find something that you are passionate about. Even if it’s just a thread of something larger, and even if it’s not core to what your essential job function is. Finding the part of what you’re doing that you’re passionate about gives you energy, puts fire in your belly. That’s what is going to get you up every day and make it all worthwhile.


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

About the
Company

Pioneering the human workplace™

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Lead(H)er: Melissa Campbell, Chief Revenue Officer at Tamr banner image

Lead(H)er: Melissa Campbell, Chief Revenue Officer at Tamr

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As someone who worked in large enterprise software companies for much of her career, Melissa Campbell did not expect to find herself at Tamr, a high growth tech company in Cambridge, MA, where she is now a vital part of the leadership team. Tamr uses machine learning to help large companies unify data from multiple silos to enable these organizations to quickly and easily master their data to make it more broadly valuable. As the company’s Chief Revenue Officer, Melissa is responsible for overall revenue from sales and marketing. She manages an international team of more than 40 people.

“Selling technology to large enterprises was a sweet spot for me,” says Melissa, who managed sales teams at IBM, BMC and Oracle before joining Tamr. “But I was nervous about moving to a smaller company because I’d always had the mindset that I was a ‘big-company gal.’” Now, after almost two years, she finds herself thriving in the leaner, start-up-like environment, where “it’s all about growth, rolling up your sleeves, and being hyper-efficient.” Transitioning into the data management sector hasn’t been too tough, she says, as it’s a matter of “learning the product and the messaging.” 

Self-reliance comes naturally to Melissa, who considers herself a “lead from the front” worker, someone who isn’t afraid of taking on multiple roles, whether it be negotiating contracts, hiring new managers for her team, or prospecting in a sales booth at a large data conference.

Working with Global 2000 companies such as Glaxo-Smith Kline, Societe Generale, Toyota, and the federal government, Melissa is now laser-focused on growing Tamr 100%, year after year, while ensuring customer success. She loves using her passion and experience as a leader to inspire others. “It’s been especially rejuvenating for me to work so closely with so many smart, young people,” she says. Another thing she loves about Tamr is being able to work closely with its Board of Directors. “It’s different from the bigger companies. We meet regularly, we do strategy work, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know our investors and strategic advisors.”

As for how she got her start “way back when,” Melissa attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio, one of only four colleges in the country that offered a Procurement and Materials Management program at the time. “My father worked for the Government, in quality control, and he told me, Procurement and Materials Management, that’s a hot new area for women.” After studying procurement at the business school, Melissa began her career on the other side of sales — as a buyer, first at Texas Instruments, and then at Lotus Development Corporation, later acquired by IBM. While negotiating licensing agreements and working with lawyers at Lotus, one of her colleagues remarked that with her energy, enthusiasm, and people skills, she ought to consider moving into sales. “So I began negotiating contracts with the sales team, and my career blossomed from there.” 

Melissa credits some of her success to mentors who have helped her along the way. “Early on, one of the sales managers at Lotus took me under her wing, took me on national sales calls, taught me the ropes. I’ve always had people I could reach out to when I was looking for new jobs or opportunities, or just advice.” Melissa was recognized as Rep of the Year at IBM, an early achievement of which she is proud. But she was even prouder two years later, when after moving into a management role at IBM, “it was one of my reps who earned Rep of the Year. Anytime somebody on my team is recognized, that’s really what motivates me.”

Melissa now does a lot of informal mentoring herself and hopes to do more. She also hopes she might find herself on a Board of Directors someday, advising others. But she’s also “super happy and super busy being on the leadership team here at Tamr, rolling up our sleeves every day, making important decisions for the company.” One of the keys to getting places in your career is “to be open-minded,” she says. “Walk through the doors that people open for you.”


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

My kids are “launched,” none of them live at home anymore, so my husband and I spend a lot of time together. We love being with our dog, with our friends, traveling. I also like to go for walks, spend time outside. Some exercise. Golf. I bought a new Peloton this year and I love it! 

What are your strategies for managing stress?

Well, that’s one of the reasons I bought the Peloton! But I also try to take time off on the weekends, real downtime. If I’m traveling for work I’ll take an evening to go out to dinner by myself, or I’ll walk around whatever city I’m in. A little downtime is important for recharging your batteries.

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

Two. One just to wake up, and then another one in the car because I have a pretty long commute. But not much more than that.

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

I work in Cambridge, but I live in Marblehead. I love Marblehead. And I love Boston in general, the Back Bay, North End. I grew up in the midwest, but I’ve been here since 1992. I think I’m a Boston person at heart now.

What do you consider one of your proudest accomplishments?

As I mentioned, I’m all about leading from the front, so anytime my team gets recognition, I’m happy. I was always very well recognized early on in my career when I was a sales rep, but really, anytime anyone on my team is recognized, that’s even better. That’s what motivates me.

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

No, not at all! As I said, I’d been working for large software companies pretty much my whole career. My last stint was at Oracle, I had a big job there, with a challenging team to manage. But I didn’t have the aspiration to be the next Mark Hurd from a career perspective (former co-CEO of Oracle whom she says she has learned a lot from while working at Oracle and whom she respected a lot). My husband, who runs a small technology company, said, “what are you doing in these big companies, why not take all your experience and see what you can make of it at a smaller company?” I was a bit nervous, I had this idea that start-ups only want “startup people”. But I hit it off with one of the Founders and CEO at Tamr, and it’s been a great fit. It’s a hot space, the people are super, and even at this late stage of my career, the company has helped shape and challenge me.

What’s your advice for recent college graduates?

Do something you really enjoy. Take advantage of the doors that get opened for you. You might start in marketing, and someone opens the door for you in another area of the business -- go try a few things, see where your passions really lie. Be open-minded, and navigate to what makes you happy. Do this throughout your life!


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

About the
Company

Tamr masters data at enterprise-scale to drive timely analytics projects and deliver successful business outcomes.

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Lead(H)er profile - Katie Mallett, Head of Finance and Strategy at Panorama Education banner image

Lead(H)er profile - Katie Mallett, Head of Finance and Strategy at Panorama Education

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Katie Mallett has spent the entirety of her career at two companies: athenahealth, where she began as one of the company’s first interns and worked her way up to the role of Executive Director of Finance, and Panorama Education, where she holds the title of Head ofFinance and Strategy and is a key member of the Executive Team. Mallett leads the finance & strategy and operations functions there and has also served as the acting Vice President of People over the past several months.  

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

Mallett joined athena when the company was still relatively new and helped out on the learning and development team by creating databases that tracked the results of job trainings and certifications that were taking place. When a friend working on the finance team found an opening for her there, Mallett interviewed for the position and started in finance when the company was at about $50 million in revenue. By the time she left 10 years later, after taking on various accounting and finance and leadership roles, athenahealth had over $1 billion in revenue and over 5,000 employees. 

Katie Mallet Panorama Education

“The company had exponential growth over that time period,” Mallett said. “We went public, introduced new products, opened up multiple offices, and acquired a couple of companies, and it was fun being part of all that.” 

When Mallett met Panorama CEO Aaron Feuer, what she learned about the company reminded her so much of those early days at athenahealth. Panorama was growing quickly, with a big vision about what it would take to change education. It also offered Mallett the opportunity to build a team from the ground up again. 

The move was a natural one. Mallett was the first in-house finance hire, replacing outside consultants that had supported Panorama until it was ready to make finance a permanent department. Mallett and the team she created have rolled out company-wide strategic planning processes, implemented scalable systems, introduced scorecards that show how the company is doing in relation to its goals, found a new office space, and helped raise $45 million in funding. 

“It’s been fun to have my hands in different aspects in the business,” Mallett said. “It’s certainly one of the best things and one of the most challenging aspects about the job at the same time.” 

Katie Mallet Panorama Education

Mallett is constantly thinking about how to continue fueling growth in accordance with Panorama’s long-term strategic vision. To do that, she looks for opportunities to work cross-functionally with other teams and stay a step ahead of the next stage of development.

“Working at a startup, it’s important to be really agile,” Mallett said. “We’re constantly evolving our strategy and figuring out, given where we are today, which levers we need to pull in order to reach our goals.” 

For some, the constant change and redirection can get dizzying. For Mallett, hypergrowth speed is the one in which she’s most comfortable. 

“Those are the things that energize me and that I get a lot of joy and passion from,” she said. 


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 

I spent a semester living in Australia and a winter session in Chile, and I think both those experiences evoked a lot of personal growth and inspired me to travel whenever possible. I love exploring new places, talking with locals, and really embracing different ways of life. 

What are your strategies for managing stress? 

I talk about it. I work with a team of people who I not only respect professionally, but who I also genuinely enjoy as humans. In our regular one on ones and team meetings, we make space to talk about stress and provide each other with unconditional support. It’s probably one of my favorite parts of working at Panorama and with the team I have. 

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

Up until recently, I was not an avid coffee drinker. In August I gave birth to a baby girl and a cup of coffee (or two) has now become part of the routine. Being a mom has brought so much joy and I want to be awake and present for every possible moment.

Katie Mallet Panorama Education

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

I love going to the North End. Italy is one of my favorite places in the world, and I think going to the North End evokes a sense of nostalgia from past trips. The community vibe, the food, the people -- it creates a cozy atmosphere that I really appreciate. 

What do you consider one of your proudest accomplishments so far? 

Working at high growth companies means experiencing really high highs and really challenging lows. Some of my proudest moments were at those low points. When things don’t go as planned, it forces the team to come together in meaningful ways. When I first started at Panorama, there was a time when we weren’t on track to hit our revenue goals, and we needed to figure out our sales strategy and ways to accelerate growth to get back on track. So the co-founders and I met up one weekend in the office to brainstorm, and I’ll never forget that weekend. It was freezing in the office, and I remember being in the conference room wrapped up in coats. But we had a really productive session. We did a lot of white boarding and a lot of sticky notes, and we just left completely aligned and energized. Shortly after that we quickly got back on track, and I think looking back from where we are now, this is one of our best spent weekends. It was right when I started at Panorama and I was still getting to know folks, and it was just such a meaningful experience for the three of us together. 

How does where you are now compare to where you saw yourself 10 years ago? 

Almost exactly 10 years ago I had transitioned at athena from working in accounting to working in financial planning and analysis, and in that role I was able to work with and learn from some really inspiring leaders like Ed Park. Ed  taught me to use numbers and data to craft a story and build a long-term, strategic vision. I knew at that point that I wanted my future to be at a high-growth company with kind, passionate, and wildly intelligent people, and I knew that I wanted to continue to build teams and mentor others. I think I’ve been lucky enough to find exactly that at Panorama. 

What’s your advice for recent college graduates? 

Athena’s first CFO, Carl Byers, gave me the advice to do something every quarter that is resume-worthy. He really encouraged me to self-reflect each quarter about what I had accomplished and whether it was worthy of a bullet on a resume, and I found that advice to be really compelling. It forced me to be thoughtful about taking on new challenges. I think that at times, people can get held back by self-doubt or fear of going outside their comfort zone, especially for women and others in underrepresented groups. The advice that Carl gave me helps hold me accountable for my own professional development, and I think I’d really encourage recent graduates to do the same.


Samantha Costanzo Carleton is a Contributor to VentureFizz. You can follow her on Twitter @smcstnz.

About the
Company

Panorama’s mission is to radically improve education for every student.

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Lead(H)er: Lauren Melton, Vice President of People Operations at Ellevation Education banner image

Lead(H)er: Lauren Melton, Vice President of People Operations at Ellevation Education

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Lauren Melton graduated from Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration and went straight into what she calls “employee relations bootcamp.” Drawn to dynamic human resources classes while in school, Melton joined the human resources department at The Pierre in New York, giving her career an equally dynamic start. 

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

By the time she was 28, Melton was a human resources director and looking for ways to grow her overall business knowledge in her field. She wanted to improve her business skill set and become more familiar with the operations side of hotels, but that experience came with nonstop, 80-hour workweeks.

Lauren Melton Ellevation Education Vice President, People Operations

“It was really useful for my career long term,” Melton said. “Improving my financial and business acumen has made me a stronger human resources leader.” 

Melton had always been interested in technology companies, so she leveraged her newfound skills to seek out a role at a tech company making an impact with its products. Though she originally planned to take up to a year off after having her second child, Melton soon took on a part-time job at a tech manufacturing company. Her role quickly became full-time and eventually a leadership role. Melton has been working in the human resources departments of tech startups ever since. 

Her next company, DealerRater, was acquired about one year after she joined, and Melton has now spent the last three years at Ellevation Education, a web-based software program supporting school districts to build strong English language learner programs, as its Vice President of People Operations. This marks Melton’s third role at a later stage startup that’s ready to invest in a formal HR department for the first time. Much of her job has focused on how to successfully build and scale that department as the company itself grows. 

Lauren Melton Ellevation Education Vice President, People Operations

Melton’s role at Ellevation is a mix of strategy and hands-on support. In a typical day, she can be found doing anything from meeting with the CEO and leadership team about upcoming goals, to phone screening job candidates, and helping employees with benefits issues.

“I enjoy trying to figure out how to add value to the organization and to make sure it’s supported in meeting its objectives,” Melton said. “To me, that means never hearing anyone say ‘I have to do this because HR told me to.’” 

Throughout her career, Melton has worked to put in systems and processes that make it easier to work with HR and collect data that enables informed decisions. That means promoting people based on the actual impact of their work, rather than on arbitrary timelines, and encouraging ongoing conversations about performance rather than scheduling yearly -- and often impersonal -- performance evaluation meetings. 

Lauren Melton Ellevation Education Vice President, People Operations

“I do have a chip on my shoulder to make sure other departments see value in our efforts because historically HR hasn’t been seen as a strategic partner in many organizations. I can’t wait until there’s a day where fewer people even remember the paper-pushing HR departments and instead see HR as true partners in helping them achieve their objectives,” Melton said. 


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 

I have two boys who are 6 and 8, so in my free time I’m mostly at hockey, baseball, and rugby games. I’m obsessed with my Peloton bike and ride it every morning at 5 a.m.   I just completed my 750th ride on Columbus Day weekend. I talk about it all the time, probably to the annoyance of my co-workers.. 

What are your strategies for managing stress? 

Definitely exercise. When I first had kids I thought I didn’t have the time to workout. I thought, “I can't do that. I am a working mother. It's selfish.” And then finally one day I just hit a point where I knew I had to make it part of my day and that self care is important. So that has been my number one way to eliminate stress -- sweat it out every morning. Organization and feeling prepared are also helpful. I'm an early bird, so I try to come in to work early, and that sets me up. If I get in at nine or after nine, I feel like the whole rest of my day is just a mess. 

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

I gave up coffee about a year ago, so every morning I drink green tea matcha. But I drink it cold, which people actually find very weird. 

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

I love spending my free time outside, and a lot of it is spent on the Cape at Bayview Beach. I grew up right down the street, my parents still live there, and it’s one of my kids’ favorite places to go. 

Lauren Melton Ellevation Education Vice President, People Operations

What’s one of your proudest accomplishments so far? 

I'd say building small, highly effective teams and feeling confident in them. For instance, seeing the growth and development of the two women that I work with has been amazing.  Being a resource to support to their development is an aspect of my job that I love. I've come into some of these small companies and it starts out as just me, an individual contributor, and when it gets to the point where you get to have a small team like this and get to see them really growing and developing and enjoying what they're doing, it's just so rewarding. 

How does where you are now compare to where you saw yourself 10 years ago? 

Honestly, I did not think this is where I would be. I was living in San Diego working in operations in a hotel and overseeing a division of 250 employees with zero work-life balance. I didn't have kids at the time either. So it was fine that I could put in a thousand hours and do that as I was on track to be the general manager of a hotel.  It’s just so different than what I'm doing now. I was putting out a lot of fires back then so I don’t think I could have pictured myself in a more strategic role like this. 

Lauren Melton Ellevation Education Vice President, People Operations

What’s your advice for recent college graduates? 

Don’t be afraid to take a role just to get your foot in the door with a company, work hard, and get exposure to one specific area of it. In small, fast growing companies, I've seen people transfer and move into other roles down the road once they've proven themselves. Coming in expecting to be a product manager right after graduating college is not going to happen. I had to remind myself that nothing has to happen on a certain timeline. I started as an HR coordinator at a hotel, and many peers and friends were working for the corporate offices of some hotel company or in real estate investment. My first job out of college might not have been as glamorous as theirs. But it’s much more productive to focus on what you’re learning and how you’re growing instead of comparing yourself to others.


Samantha Costanzo Carleton is a Contributor to VentureFizz. You can follow her on Twitter @smcstnz.

About the
Company

Ellevation is the first and most powerful suite of tools designed specifically for professionals serving English Language Learners   .

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Lead(H)er: Kate Adams, Vice President of Marketing at Drift banner image

Lead(H)er: Kate Adams, Vice President of Marketing at Drift

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Marketers usually look for a demand generation flywheel before building out their brands. Drift, the Boston-based conversational marketing leader, did things a little bit differently: the founders built their brand first, then set out to build their demand gen competency. 

“It’s been the most fun experience of my career so far,” said Kate Adams, the company’s Vice President of Marketing. 

Over the last 16 years of her career, Adams has worked in every facet of marketing, from communications and email marketing to strategy development for specific verticals and product marketing. She’s run entire marketing stacks for startups and honed in on one small piece at a time. Adams credits that wide breadth of experience for bringing her to her current role. 

At the beginning of her career, after graduating from Regis College with a degree in Spanish language and literature, Adams took on a marketing operations role at HCPro. In her seven years there she developed e-commerce solutions, implementation plans, and overall marketing strategies before becoming the Director of Product Marketing at Edvisors, which was then a small startup. At Edvisors, Adams worked directly with third-party clients to develop and execute traffic-generating campaigns. 

Adams continued her career in tech and education as the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Product at Flashnotes, before transitioning into tech marketing at WeSpire, which helps companies design, run, and measure sustainability programs for employees. 

In her final stop before her recent move to Drift, SmartBear, she rose from Director of Demand Generation to Associate Vice President of Demand Generation and Marketing Operation. 

Kate Adams Drift

Over the course of her wide-ranging marketing career, Adams began to notice something: the industry could use a simplified, more human touch. 

“B2B marketing is too much about acronyms – SAL and MQL and SQL,” she said. “But if you start and nurture conversations that help customers make good purchasing decisions, that turns marketing into something different. I’ve changed our marketing funnel at Drift to be focused on people and conversations, we don’t measure acronyms here. We measure what matters.” 

Adams, who was a Drift customer before joining the team and found that the company’s assessment of what’s wrong with marketing resonated with her, is doing her part by managing Drift’s entire demand generation team. She’s spent the last nine months building out this area of the company’s marketing in anticipation of continued growth. 

With that growth comes plenty of new technology. According to Adams, marketers used to have about 300 digital marketing tools at their disposal. Now, they have more than 7,500. 

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

To help bring marketers back to the creative side of their field and cut down on time spent evaluating and implementing tech instead of campaign ideas, Adams and the Drift team let their customers know they understand this pain point. Drift tries to be one thing -- a conversational marketing and sales tool -- and integrates with others that can handle the rest. 

In addition to working on getting marketers back into true marketing, Adams is focused on making Drift a place where all marketers ultimately want to work. 

“I want them to know that they’ll never have as amazing an experience as they’ll have here, and that they’ll do the best work of their careers here,” she said. 


Quick Q(uestions) and A(dvice) 

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 

I have two kids -- one is 12 years old and the other is 15 months, so spending time with them and my wife is a top priority. They can both be exhausting for different reasons – the 12 year old can be mentally exhausting, and the little guy is physically exhausting. I think he covered two miles chasing seagulls on the beach recently. But we love watching them grow.

How do you handle stress? 

This is something I’ve been working on the past few years. I think grounding and having perspective is important. We’re not saving lives. In the last few years, I’ve also started meditating in the morning and paying attention to how I start my day. I set my alarm before the little guy gets up so that I make sure to have that time. I visualize my day and think about how I’m going to motivate myself.

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

It’s changed in the last nine months. I used to drink a lot more coffee, but now I start every morning with a five-shot iced americano. In the afternoon I have a peach green tea. Starbucks is probably pretty happy with me – they get a lot of my money!

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

We just started going to Castle Island with the kids. It’s beautiful there. I also really love the JFK Museum. I’m a big history buff and mostly read historical nonfiction. The museum experience is amazing, and the outside is gorgeous. It’s on the water and they have one of JFK’s sailboats out front.

What’s one of your proudest accomplishments? 

The teams I’ve built and marketers whose careers I’ve helped accelerate by helping them create clear career paths. That’s definitely what I’m most proud of.

How does where you are now compare to where you saw yourself 10 years ago? 

I’m honestly right where I thought I’d be. I’m a driven person and always had a vision of what I wanted and where I was going. Sometimes there was some angst about whether I was getting where I wanted to be fast enough. I couldn’t have envisioned Drift, though – it’s incredible how quickly it’s grown and changed over time. The culture and people here are amazing. I was for sure trying to get to the VP position somewhere, but I really couldn’t have imagined a place as great as Drift.

What’s your advice for recent college graduates? 

Find something you like, and don’t be afraid to understand that you may not like it in time. It might change. Nothing is permanent – permanence is a myth. If you like marketing, go for marketing, and if you like sales, go for sales. It’s okay to then not be sure if you like it and make a pivot. I learned the most about myself in those situations. Don’t be afraid to dig in and do the work, too. So many people think it’s not about the job they’re doing today, it’s about the next one – but no. It’s about today and the results you’re getting. Good things will come if you focus on the job today. Tell that story of your own results and be proud of what you do, and the rest will follow.


Samantha Costanzo Carleton is a Contributor to VentureFizz. You can follow her on Twitter @smcstnz.

About the
Company

Drift is the new way businesses buy from businesses.

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Lead(H)er: Maria Manrique, Chief Financial Officer at O'Reilly banner image

Lead(H)er: Maria Manrique, Chief Financial Officer at O'Reilly

Maria Manrique has spent much of her career in technology, though she didn’t necessarily intend for that to happen. Manrique’s skill set lies in helping companies scale and drive growth, and in Boston, roles that need those skills are more likely than not in tech companies. She's now the Chief Financial Officer at O'Reilly, which provides technology and business training and insights to help clients manage economic and technological shifts, through its online learning solution and extensive conference program.

Manrique began her career as an engagement manager at McKinsey & Company, then spent six years at Fidelity Investments in both Boston and Paris. Her first CFO role was at ecoATM Gazelle, a company that provides an international network of recycling and payment kiosks for electronic devices. She’d been at Toast as its vice president of finance and administration for about a year prior to moving to O’Reilly.

Maria Manrique

Not only did the role offered to her come with strong leadership responsibilities; it also played directly to Manrique’s strengths of business scaling and development. “Some of our major customers are based in the Northeast, and the company was looking to have an executive presence in the Boston office,” Manrique explained. “I jumped at the opportunity.”

Manrique’s previous employers had been largely private equity backed or VC backed, while O’Reilly is a privately held company. The switch offers a unique management challenge for her. “There are different financial targets and growth goals that need to be managed within existing resources,” Manrique said. “A privately held company is not necessarily interested in fundraising externally, so there are growth goals that need to be met within  stricter guardrails.”

Maria Manrique

Manrique welcomes the puzzle of growing O’Reilly within those parameters. She does this by helping oversee almost all aspects of the company’s Boston operations, including legal, sales operations, and human resources, for which she has a particular soft spot. In partnership with the heads of each division, Manrique helps ensure  O’Reilly is meeting its strategic goals.

Outside of work, Manrique is heavily involved with Casa Myrna, a nonprofit in Boston’s South End that works to end domestic and dating violence by providing women with resources and safe spaces. She counts this work, along with the ability to raise her children in an intergenerational household, among her greatest accomplishments so far.

Maria Manrique

Looking forward in her professional career, Manrique is committed to helping O’Reilly continue growing and maintaining its strong brand presence while she continues to be a valuable member of the executive team.

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


Quick q(uestions) and a(dvice)

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I’m an avid reader, and I love keeping up with the latest and greatest books. I try to find time for that, especially during my commute. I enjoy being a part of my kids’ activities, so a lot of my time is spent supporting them in their interests. My husband is a talented artist, while artistically challenged myself, I enjoy his love of art and visiting local art installations.  

What are your strategies for managing stress?

This is a work in process for me. I do my best to plan for the madness, both at work and at home. I feel like having a solid plan is a good start. It’s also important for me to share the wealth in terms of responsibilities and leadership opportunities—that way I can give additional experiences to my team but also delegate and take things off my plate. The same goes at home, having my kids step up and help. My husband is an amazing partner, and home tasks are very much divided 50/50—maybe he might argue 60/40!  My parents provide an incredible amount of support and I can’t tell you we would manage without them.

Maria Manrique

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

I’m sipping on my third of the day right now, so too many! I enjoy reading articles that talk about the benefits of coffee because I drink so many cups—maybe three or four daily.

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

The Back Bay has to be my favorite. I love all of Boston, but Back Bay is the neighborhood where I lived as a newcomer to Boston and as a student, so it brings back a lot of memories of why I chose Boston as my home.

What’s one of your proudest accomplishments?

I'm very proud to live in a multigenerational household where everyone's goals and aspirations are supported. My husband and I have successful careers  we love, my kids are happy and thriving at school and outside of school, and my parents get to enjoy their retirement and live with their grandchildren in a wonderful place, Massachusetts. I didn't have that growing up, and  always dreamt of it, so I’m proud that we’ve been able to create it, as a team.

Another accomplishment I’m proud of is joining the board of Casa Myrna,  the largest provider of shelter services for domestic violence survivors in Massachusetts. I’m proud to be part of their efforts to continue doing the amazing work they do in the Boston area.

Maria Manrique

How does where you are now compare to where you saw yourself 10 years ago? 

This is above and beyond my expectations. I love my job, I’m involved with the community, I’m involved at home, and I’m incredibly happy and grateful for where I am.  Hard work, having access to incredible educational and work opportunities being in Boston and in fast-growth technology businesses have played a key role. My role at O’Reilly is a dream CFO position supporting an accomplished, fun and talented team.

What’s your advice for a recent college graduate?

Don’t pass on opportunities that might not be a perfect fit at first, because they can open other doors. People should aspire to be in roles  they’re passionate about and feel are a good fit for their skills, but there’s nothing wrong with trying something that might not be perfect at first. That’s how I got to most of the jobs  I’ve had, and I think they’ve been my best roles, you can mold a role or project to what you want it to be. Keep an open mind in terms of opportunities that open up and jump on the ones you think you’ll be able to get the most out of, even if they’re not what you expected.


Samantha Costanzo Carleton is a Contributor to VentureFizz. You can follow her on Twitter @smcstnz.

Lead(H)er: Barbara Scarcella, Senior Advisor to CEO & SVP at NetBrain Technologies  banner image

Lead(H)er: Barbara Scarcella, Senior Advisor to CEO & SVP at NetBrain Technologies

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Barbara Scarcella was often asked the same question throughout her career in tech: Do you by any chance have brothers? 

Yes, she’d respond. Four older ones who, through sports and the daily adventure of growing up together, ended up teaching her how to be competitive and relate to the male-dominated working world Scarcella entered after graduating from college. 

“I had a keen sense of how to challenge somebody and do it diplomatically,” she said. 

Scarcella, who has a bachelor’s degree in economics and business certificate from Columbia University, hoped to find herself in a vice presidential position at a bank as quickly as possible. Instead, she took a trainee role at a technology company called Securities Industry Automation Corp, which functioned as a clearinghouse for all domestic stock exchanges. There, Scarcella earned a spot on the company’s fast track to promotion and became a supervisor and coordinator within less than a year.

Her hard work and skillset were soon recognized outside of the company, and she was recruited to a then-startup called Shark at Walsh, Greenwood Brokerage Firm, for which Scarcella rolled up her sleeves to build and manage 10 data centers from scratch all over the world. 

“That company got sold a couple of times, and every time we sold the company, I got more responsibility,” Scarcella said. “I had a good work ethic and ability to adapt to change and be very positive and succeed.” 

By the time Thomson Reuters came in to evaluate the company, Scarcella had an executive role. Of all the resources and experience Walsh, Greenwood and its employees had to offer, Thomson was most impressed with Scarcella and her work. 

“It was a really nice way to be recruited into Thomson,” she said. “I had a good reputation, and past experiences had prepared me for this significant endeavor where again I proved myself and was successful.”

Barbara Scarcella Career

The company grew through acquisition, and over the next 17 years of her career, Scarcella integrated diverse companies and data systems into the overall Thomson organization, boosted profits, selected and negotiated technology agreements, and more. Eventually, she became the only woman to sit on Thomson’s executive committee at the time and lead technology initiatives across the corporation, managing people worldwide.

Scarcella used her sharp negotiation skills to leverage deals and partnerships that saved the company tens of millions of dollars, much of which went directly to the bottom line. This increased bonuses across the division, making her a hero amongst her colleagues. 

“I’ve always been able to work with a smile on my face, no matter how challenging things were, and most often found a resolution,” Scarcella said. “To this day I’ve maintained good business relationships with many CEOs and C-level executives. I attribute this to being open, honest, and sincere with them from day one. CEOs are human beings like all of us that  have a job to do, and they appreciate an honest partner relationship.”

When it was time to move on from Thomson, Scarcella knew exactly what she wanted to do with her career: start it over.

“I wanted to do it all again, and I did,” she said. “And it’s been a lot of fun.”

Barbara Scarcella Career

After a year as a consultant for Lehman Brothers, Scarcella became the Senior Advisor to the CEO of NetBrain, providing critical advice based on her long and varied career to help with business development, driving sales, and strategic relations. During her tenure, Scarcella did all that and more. In her first year as Senior Vice President of Global sales,  she boosted worldwide sales by 40% to 50%. Scarcella also focuses on driving C-level relationships for NetBrain’s signature clients. 

“I still get excited talking about what we do here,” Scarcella said. “It’s not just software -- it is  just in time automation. NetBrain provides end to end visibility and automation in real time for any IT workflow; always accurate, up to date, and on demand network diagrams.” 

By helping customers move manual, time-intensive tasks to more automation, NetBrain has become the go-to resource for major players in the industry. One out of every three Fortune 100 companies, including telecompanies, large banks, healthcare companies, and tech companies, uses NetBrain’s innovative solutions. 

Looking forward, Scarcella intends to continue seeking out opportunities to grow both her career and the companies in which she finds herself working, with a particular focus on helping other women climb up the ladder she so deftly navigated herself. 

“In the past 20 years, I’ve been mindful of women and business in the technology industry and have made a point to include women at every level who showed ambition and talent,” she said. “I’m proud of the men and women I’ve mentored, and I strongly believe that you need to bring people up with you and encourage talent to grow in a nurturing environment.”


Quick Q(uestions) and A(dvice) 

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 

Renewal is key for everyone, and sometimes I need to practice what I preach more often. On my weekends on Long Island, where my home is, I like to have small dinner parties and enjoy good music, good friends and family, eating fine food, and having stimulating conversations. I also enjoy playing golf once in a while, and my vegetable garden gives me great pleasure to see things grow and enjoy the fruits (or veggies) of my labor. I can also make a similar comparison to my position at NetBrain and getting the same satisfaction with my teams. Mentoring our people at NetBrain is very satisfying  -- you see them growing and reaching their full potential.

Barbara Scarcella Career

How do you typically manage stress? 

Stress reduction techniques are a work in progress for me, always. I have learned from past experiences that mindfulness and goal-oriented tasks help me to disregard the extraneous disturbances that go on daily and can increase tension and stress.

If you're a coffee drinker, how many cups do you have in a day?  

I actually don’t need a boost of caffeine. Colleagues often remark about my energy level being extremely high. I do drink a hot beverage at times, especially Herbal Tea or Decaf coffee during the day.

How does where you are now compare to where you saw yourself 10 years ago? 

I was a senior executive of a large corporation, Thomson Reuters, a little more than 10 years ago, traveling all over the world and living on and off of planes.  At around that time I was introduced to NetBrain, and I knew instantly I would be a good match with my skill set to work with our CEO, Lingping Gao. It has been an exhilarating ride introducing our “Just in Time Automation” to the industry. In retrospect, if I wasn’t introduced to NetBrain, I would have saved Thomson tens of millions of dollars by negotiating favorable contracts and driving optimization initiatives, which I am very good at. Being at NetBrain is so much more exciting and challenging. I got another chance to wear more hats and use my experience and capabilities to help even another company drive to success. It’s very satisfying.

What's one of your favorite places in the NYC and Boston areas, as you have offices in each? 

In NYC my favorite places would be Broadway and the theater.  My home in Floral Park, Long Island is a welcomed treat since I spend a lot of time commuting between New York and Massachusetts.  We always enjoy our 2nd home in Provincetown, Cape Cod, on the bay. I must say that restaurants are the best in both places! Having an Italian background makes good food a necessity for a good life!

What do you consider one of your proudest accomplishments so far?  

My proudest accomplishment is having a successful relationship with my spouse for over 3 decades. In my career, I am extremely grateful to have attained my full potential working with very smart C-level executives. My most impressive accomplishment has been the success I have had in each new endeavor and ability to each challenging position asked of me. I’ve embraced each new opportunity with passion, excitement and a focus on success and have loved it all, along with the people I’ve worked with!

What's your advice for recent college graduates?

Love what you do, no matter what the position. Embrace it and give it your full energy and focus. Build on each level of success and grow, and you will almost never have to ask for a raise or promotion. You will be noticed and it will come naturally. Persevere!


Samantha Costanzo Carleton is a Contributor to VentureFizz. You can follow her on Twitter @smcstnz.

About the
Company

NetBrain was founded to deliver end-to-end network visibility to enterprise networks across the globe.

 

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Lead(H)er: Jackie Swansburg Paulino, Chief Product Officer at Pixability banner image

Lead(H)er: Jackie Swansburg Paulino, Chief Product Officer at Pixability

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Jackie Swansburg Paulino graduated from the University of Richmond with a degree in communications and a desire to start her own company and work for herself. Her father, himself an entrepreneur, had passed down a sense of self-determination that drove Paulino to work for him in her first years out of college, during which she had the opportunity to open a yoga studio, help manage one of his golf courses, and partner with him to flip houses to earn her living through the first few years of her career. 

Soon, Paulino realized that she enjoyed the marketing and advertising aspects of each of these businesses the most. She took what she had learned about management and customer service through each of her ventures, combined those with her emerging interest in advertising, and landed a job at Neal Advertising, both small firms where she managed a team that ran Google Adwords campaigns for clients. 

“I was thinking of all these ideas to improve how the searches were working, but it's hard to move mountains and change anything that Google's doing,” Paulino said. “I decided I wanted to work for a small software startup where I could work in advertising but still have my finger on the pulse of what's going on and help build the product I’m advertising.” 

Pixability proved to be a perfect match. When Paulino started at the video advertising platform as a senior data analyst about six years ago, she was one of a handful of employees working in a single, small room. While the company has grown considerably since then, with Paulino now holding the title of Chief Product Officer. 

Despite the company’s size, Paulino still feels the same entrepreneurial spirit in the company that drew her to it in the first place. 

“I like that roll-up-your-sleeves, everybody-does-everything vibe,” Paulino said. “I still have that sense of entrepreneurship at Pixability, but I get to do it in a less-scary way, at a company that’s been around for 10 years and has solid footing.” 

In her current role, Paulino is responsible for four teams: account management, advertising operations, insights, and sales strategy. Each is responsible for connecting with customers in its own way, from boosting retention rates to reaching them through the purchase of social media ads. It’s that customer connection that helps Paulino keep each team organized and stocked with the resources they need to be successful.

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

One of the ways Pixability does that is by creating custom solutions for larger clients, then using those programs repeatable for smaller customers. Paulino encourages the same repetition in her team and works to automate as many of their recurring tasks as possible, leaving more time for innovation.

Thanks to their efficiency, Paulino isn’t necessarily looking to increase the size of those teams at the same rate as Pixability’s revenue growth. The company plans to develop a new self-serve product that allows for more customers to use the product with less hands-on support. Pixability also intends to add connected TV buying on top of its YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram buying. 

Paulino is enthusiastic about the prospect of helping the company become a SaaS business.

“We’re in the right place,” she said. “We’re at this great acceleration spot for the company.”


Quick Q(uestions) and A(dvice)

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I like to read business books and books about other tech entrepreneurs. I also like to hang out with my dog, who just turned 13, watch sports, and play golf.

What are your strategies for managing stress?

I just downloaded the Calm app, so I’m trying to get into meditation. Working out and listening to audiobooks on Audible also help.

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

Two, and I need them both desperately!

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

I’m from the North Shore, so West Beach in Beverly is my favorite spot. In Boston proper, Night Shift Brewery is a new hotspot for our office.

What do you consider one of your proudest accomplishments?

Building a team that has a high retention rate of customers, and whose members stick around at Pixability. Building a team that likes to work here and is proud of the work we do makes me really proud.

How does where you are now compare to where you saw yourself 10 years ago?

It’s much more stable. I never thought I’d work for anyone else, but I’m happy to be in a good place at a growing company. In my 20s, I sometimes envied those cool startups where other people were working, so I think it’s cool to actually be a part of one of them now.

What’s your advice for recent college graduates?

My advice would be to start small. It’s great to work for a big company, and that’s definitely the right move for some people. But if you work at a small company like Pixability, you get to do a lot of different things. We give our younger employees a lot of responsibility. When you’re working at a small company or startup, you get to try out things you otherwise wouldn’t get to because you don’t have one job. You have a hundred different jobs, and you might like only 50 of them, but you’ll get an idea of what you’re looking for in your next role through those. I wouldn’t try to focus on one thing or get caught up with job titles right out of college. If you can work for a cool company, you should do it. Take a risk, because this is the time in your career when you can do that. Learning what you don’t like is just as important as learning what you do, so try different things and try them early.


Samantha Costanzo Carleton is a Contributor to VentureFizz. You can follow her on Twitter @smcstnz.

About the
Company

Pixability is the only technology and data solution provider that enables brands and agencies to ensure brand suitability, optimal campaign performance and gain unique insights video advertising on YouTube, YouTube on TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. 

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