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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Jackie Hazan EditShare

What is your current role and responsibilities?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Empathy 

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

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

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

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

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

I’m involved with SHRM, recently joined WICT.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Hiking, skiing, cooking, and traveling.

How do you manage stress?

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

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

Bottomless!

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

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

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

Homegoing was a powerful read

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

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

About the
Company

EditShare exists to simplify storytelling. 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your current role and responsibilities?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Empathy, Courage, Business Acumen, Resilience  

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

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

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

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


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Getting outside – hiking, boating, playing with my kids

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

How do you manage stress?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the
Company

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your current role and responsibilities?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

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

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

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


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

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

How do you manage stress?

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

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

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

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

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

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

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

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

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

About the
Company

Poppulo is the global leader in employee communications technology.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laura Major Motionak

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

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

What is your current role and responsibilities?

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

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

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

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

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


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

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

Laura Major Motiona;

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

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

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

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

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

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

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

About the
Company

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melissa Herman Wellframe

What is your current role and responsibilities?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

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

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

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

Melissa Herman Wellframe

Melissa Herman Wellframe

What’s next for you and your career?

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


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

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

Melissa Herman Wellframe

How do you manage stress?

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

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

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

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

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

Any book or podcast recommendations?

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

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

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

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

About the
Company

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

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Lead(H)er Profile - Michelle Wong, VP of Marketing at Jackpocket banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Michelle Wong, VP of Marketing at Jackpocket

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


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

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and even though I’ve lived in NYC for over a decade, I still consider myself a Californian. For those who know me now, they’d be surprised to learn that I was a shy kid. 

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

I studied Economics and Business at UC Berkeley, and my first job was in management consulting at Accenture right out of school. Consulting provided a fantastic foundation and exposure to different industries and companies. 

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

I had always wanted to live in NYC, so I decided to pursue my MBA at NYU Stern to broaden my skill set and focus more on marketing. After graduating, I worked in brand management, until I had the opportunity to join American Express’s start-up arm. That was another critical point in my career when I realized I enjoyed working in smaller organizations. I took the plunge to startups and haven’t looked back! 

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I’m currently the VP of Marketing at Jackpocket, a mobile app startup that’s revolutionizing the $300 billion lottery industry. In this role, I’m responsible for initiating and driving an integrated marketing strategy. As we prepare to expand into many new states and markets, I work closely with my team to develop new acquisition channels, refine current channels, and ensure strong customer retention.

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

My career has not been linear, but I’m exactly where I want to be at this moment. My priorities have been to join a growing company with solid team culture over a specific role or vertical.

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?

Keep up-to-date on new marketing trends (ex. mobile) and what's going on in the industries you're interested in. Earlier on in your career, try to determine how you will differentiate yourself from the pack and be open to learning new skills. Reach out and set up informational / coffee chats with folks working at companies or roles you're interested in. You may be surprised to see how open people are to chatting!  

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

Empathy. At the end of the day, we’re all humans who are navigating a challenging time. 

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

I’ve worked across many different industries and company stages, but this is my first foray into the real-money gaming space, so I’m learning something new every day. Additionally, adapting to the ever-changing mobile advertising environment has been both interesting and challenging. 

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

I’m passionate about women’s health and serve as a marketing advisor to Natalist, a venture-backed startup dedicated to improving the path to parenthood.

I’m also a volunteer and foster with Muddy Paws Rescue, a non-profit organization dedicated to partnering with animal shelters to pull and place dogs into loving forever homes.

Michelle Wong Jackpocket

What’s next for you and your career?

I’m still relatively new at Jackpocket, and really enjoy it so far—plus there’s so much growth ahead—so I’m excited to make Jackpocket nothing short of a household name! Someday, I’d love the opportunity to serve on the board for an organization that aligns with my interests and values.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love traveling and exploring the outdoors. One of my favorite trips was hiking the W trek in Patagonia: 100+ km in 5 days, trekked on a glacier, experienced all 4 seasons in a single day, rediscovered camping, and cold/no showers. 

Michelle Wong Jackpocket 1

How do you manage stress?
A mix of running, yoga (I miss going to my local studio IRL!), and meditation.

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

At least 1 cup of cold brew in the morning.

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

While I love living and working in the city, I enjoy escaping to the Catskills. 

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

For fans of The Wire, and those of you who are rewatching the show during quarantine, I recommend listening to The Wire: Way Down in the Hole. I also enjoy listening to Pivot, hosted by Recode’s Kara Swisher and NYU Stern Professor Scott Galloway, to keep up with all things tech and current events. 

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

These are unprecedented times, and there’s no guidebook. 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. 

About the
Company

Jackpocket is the first mobile lottery app in the U.S. that offers players a secure way to order official state lottery tickets, such as Powerball, Mega Millions, and more, via their smartphones.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Tzipi Avioz, Executive Vice President Customer Success at Mirakl

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Tzipi Avioz, Executive Vice President Customer Success at Mirakl.


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

I grew up in Israel, also known as the Startup Nation. It’s one of the most innovative places in the world, and where I think I got my “never give up” mentality. Growing up among people who are really collaborative and open to building on ideas together is what made me who I am today. 

As a kid, I was never afraid to take on a challenge, and was always encouraged by my parents. My family jokes that ever since I was a toddler they knew that I’d be a leader – I was always the one at family events who was planning activities for all the cousins, and making sure that everyone was included. 

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

I had to start by serving on the Intelligence team (known as 8200) in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Being a member of the IDF is something that defines life in Israel. At 18 and a half years old, I managed a team of 20 people. Not many have the opportunity to get that experience at such a young age. It was really formative for me.

My work at Shufersal, Israel’s largest supermarket chain, was the defining moment where I fell in love with retail. It gave me exposure to many different areas of the retail industry – I started as a checkout operator, worked my way up to become a deputy store manager in less than six months, and eventually stepped into a corporate role. Doing all these roles helped me learn very quickly what makes retail tick, and the opportunity to move into the head office to an operations and technology role really set me on the path that I’m still on today. 

Fast forward to a few years later, I became the CIO of Tiv Taam Group, one of the most innovative retailers in Israel, which at the time was experiencing aggressive growth. That role was the entry point into a brand new phase of my career, because it led me into a new opportunity with Woolworths Australia. When I went to Woolworths, it was the first of three times in my career where I jumped to a different kind of role at a new company. I had a senior development manager title, and to be honest some of my friends couldn’t believe I was choosing to move from C-level to a manager. But I am always grateful that I had the opportunity and I was open to try this new role, in a new company and country. I spent a decade of my career at Woolworths, guiding the company through its store and online retail development, becoming a leader and expert in the company’s digital tools, and managing large teams of 150 to 300 people. Every day was a learning moment. 

There have been a couple of other moves like that one, ultimately landing me where I am today at Mirakl. Mirakl has huge potential: I’m very passionate about what the company offers and what it delivers. It’s been a great way to build on my experience and my career background, and most importantly for me, I’m learning new things each day. That is what makes my role even more exciting. 

Tzipi Avioz Mirakl
Celebrating International Women’s Day with the Paris-based Mirakl team

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I’m the executive vice president of customer success at Mirakl, which offers best-in-class software for companies launching third-party online marketplaces. One of the most important things that Mirakl brings to our customers, in addition to our software, is an unparalleled level of expertise on marketplaces. And our customer success team is a huge part of that. 

I lead our customer success team for clients in the Americas and APAC, like Urban Outfitters, HPE, and Best Buy Canada, and work very closely with executives to guide them through every stage of their time with Mirakl. In many cases, that starts even before they sign on to become a customer. We’ll help with implementation and launch, and we’re also a partner for them as they grow their marketplace business. Building those relationships is absolutely key to Mirakl’s success. 

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

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.  Once you have that mindset, you open up all sorts of possibilities for yourself to use your (diversified) skills. It allows you to follow your passions, and for me, that’s where I’ve seen real fulfillment in my career. 

To be honest, I think that sometimes the traditional career advice with the five-year and 10-year plans can put you into a box. I can say truthfully that looking back, each of the roles I’ve held taught me something different that has brought me to 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?

First and foremost, when you’re looking at a new opportunity, don’t stress too much about what it will look like on your resume. Think about what really gets you excited to go to work every day, how the role will impact you, and how you’ll make an impact within the organization. There have been a couple of times in my career where I’ve made a move that some people would call a step down, or a lateral move. Those have been some of the most formative experiences on my resume.

Personally, I’ve held a lot of different roles in different industries, and the connecting thread between all of them is interaction with customers. That goes for my first job as a checkout operator and as a CIO. That’s true for the time I spent at Woolworths focused on the retail experience. And of course, that’s true in my work in customer success. 

I might sound a little cliche, but it’s a cliche for a reason: don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, and step up to new opportunities, even when you don’t feel you’re 100% ready for it. That goes especially for women. My mother has this saying – “never a failure, always a learning.” You’ve probably heard the statistic that men apply for roles they’re 60% qualified for on paper, but women only apply for roles they’re 100% qualified for. Confidence is an important factor there, of course. But so is being afraid of failure. 

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

I’d start by saying proactiveness. Our customers keep us on our toes! I’m constantly working to anticipate challenges, understand strategies, and make connections so that every conversation is useful and meaningful for everyone involved. 

Accountability is really important. You have to be able to own your mistakes and your successes, and take responsibility for your efforts. That’s key for any customer-focused role. 

And then of course, relationship-building. This role is all about keeping our customers in the center of everything we do, and serving as true advisors to them as they work to achieve their goals. Developing strong relationships with them is critical to that success. When you trust and understand each other, it makes the rest easier.

Tzipi Avioz Mirakl
Celebrating International Women’s Day with the Boston-based Mirakl team

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

I’d have the same answer for both, actually. When our customers are successful, Mirakl is successful. It has created a really rewarding environment for me and for the rest of my team: we enter into the relationship with that in mind. 

But it’s not always an easy thing to achieve. The projects we work on are tough and ambitious. Companies come to us with the idea that they’re transforming their businesses. Some of these businesses have been around for more than a hundred years, they have thousands of employees, and lots of “big company” mentalities. We’re supporting them through a transition into a new business model, a different way of operating and to be agile. It makes things both more challenging and more rewarding when we succeed.  

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

I am so proud of the teams that I’ve built. It’s one of my greatest passions. Finding the right balance of people with different, complementary skillsets to do the work isn’t easy, but when you get it right, it has such an impact. Even now, many of the teams that I helped build in my previous roles are still together. That’s so rewarding to see. 

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

I’ve benefited in countless ways from mentors who helped me through all sorts of professional challenges and triumphs. That’s the area where I try to give the most back. I actively mentor a number of women who are at different stages of their careers, specifically in STEM-focused industries. I’ve also participated as a mentor with Day of STEM at LifeJourney, where students get to test-drive future STEM careers and develop new skills to help them find their own passion. And finally, I’ve worked with startup CEOs to help them build and develop to their next growth phase, so that their businesses get the kind of guidance that has been so beneficial to me. 

What’s next for you and your career?

Right now, my focus is on continuing to build and strengthen Mirakl’s customer success team here in the Americas. We have such a great group of experts here, but as our business grows scalability is key, there’s so much more that

can be done! (And by the way, I have to mention that we’re hiring!)

Tzipi Avioz Mirakl

Mirakl customers join experts from the Mirakl Customer Success team for a meeting of the User Advisory Board


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Work keeps me very busy, so I try to keep things simple in my free time: reading (especially books focused on leadership and business strategy), doing puzzles and of course, spending time with my family. 

How do you manage stress?

When I’m dealing with something stressful, I try to give myself space to step away from it so that I can process it at a different time – I find that it helps me to approach things with a cool head. Yoga helps. Walks on the beach. And making time for myself to focus on something else, so that I can come back to a challenge with a clean slate. 

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

Two – but I have to say that the coffee here doesn’t compare to what you can get in Australia. I miss flat whites! 

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

No question, it has to be Cape Cod – every time we cross the bridge, I get excited. It immediately feels like “my happy place.” We are lucky enough to be able to spend some time there a few times a year as a family. 

Any book or podcast recommendations?  

I just finished reading Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. You absolutely don’t have to be a business leader to appreciate the learnings she shares. Everyone should read it – it’s applicable to so many different parts of life, not just work.

About the
Company

Mirakl offers the industry’s first and most advanced enterprise marketplace SaaS platform. With Mirakl, organizations across B2B and B2C industries can launch marketplaces faster, grow bigger, and operate with confidence as they exceed rising customer expectations. 

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Lead(H)er Profile - Mary Beth Vassallo, VP & GM of North America at Nexthink banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Mary Beth Vassallo, VP & GM of North America at Nexthink

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Mary Beth Vassallo, VP & GM of North America at Nexthink.


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

I’m a second-generation Italian American, after coming to America in the 20s, my family settled in an Italian neighborhood on the north-side of Syracuse.  I grew up the youngest of 4 children, with a private catholic education. However, growing up I was extremely dedicated to gymnastics with dreams of becoming the next Olga Korbut. I was always competitive, but at the same time a bit of an introverted. Unfortunately, my gymnastics dreams did not pan out – but the fundamentals of concentration, independent strength and competitiveness still serve me well today.

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

I studied Mathematics and Computer Science at Syracuse University.  I landed my first job with a consulting company 6 months before graduating and was placed at IBM where I was a software developer on a government project.  From there, I moved into IT operations, supporting a very large datacenter at GE.   

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 has been more like a jungle gym than a ladder.  It has given me the opportunity to explore, stretch, learn, and grow.  Moving from IT to “the vendor” side was pivotal for my personal growth.  I worked at Boston-based Digital Equipment Corporation as a system engineer and moved into sales only because a door opened when the sales rep I supported went out on maternity leave and never came back.  This was another critical turning point in my career.  She and I are still friends. We talk about her decision to stay home and the impact it had on my career.  The next few important steps landed me in my current state - moving from individual contributor to management, building teams and business from the ground up multiple times with different go to market models, expanding to run global/diverse teams and leveraging experiences from large corporations, mid-size hypergrowth companies and startups.

Mary Beth Vassallo Nexthink

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I am currently responsible for building the business for North America.  When I started at Nexthink three years ago, we were 14 people in the Boston office and today we total more than 100 in North America – more than 600 globally. North America is an important market for the company, which was originally founded in Switzerland, now we have a dual headquarters in Boston and Lausanne, our CEO has moved to Boston and we continue to build out the management team based here, including the addition of a new Chief People Officer Meg Donovan.

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

I always knew I wanted to be in a leadership role.  My mother was a big influence on my career.  She pushed me to enter the tech world before most people knew what a computer was.  Every time I’d land a new job or get a promotion, I’d call to let her know and she’d say, “one step closer to becoming a CEO”.  She is 99 now and asks me why I work so hard…

Mary Beth Vassallo Nexthink

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

Hiring the right people and putting them in the right seat. Motivating, and inspiring my team through both good and challenging times is so important. It’s also necessary to practice active listening and to be open-minded and try new things to have a more open perspective from my colleagues and team.  Having a mentor or two doesn’t hurt, someone to go to for guidance and holding myself accountable to do the best I can each day.

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

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.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

It has always been about people for me.  Being a coach and mentor, helping others grow personally and professionally. One of my proudest moments was when someone I mentored thanked me for providing not only the professional coaching throughout his career, but also the confidence and internal belief that he would succeed.

Mary Beth Vassallo Nexthink

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

I have been actively involved in Take Steps - Crohn's & Colitis Foundation for the past 15 years. My son was diagnosed with Crohn’s at age 8.  There was no medicine to help him until he turned 13 so he battled it for many years.  He is in remission now thankfully from taking medicine produced by Johnson & Johnson, but it may not last, so I actively fund raise and support this cause to help find a cure.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

The world seems very different now than when I graduated, but I believe in the advice that I was given when I graduated and continue to pass on to people early in their career.  Have a destination in the back of your mind but also know that you have a great journey ahead, take some risks, try things that may feel uncomfortable because there are only two things that will happen – you will win or you will learn and both are great!

About the
Company

Nexthink is a global leader in Digital Employee Experience.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Erica Smith, Vice President, Investor Relations at CyberArk banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Erica Smith, Vice President, Investor Relations at CyberArk

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Erica Smith, Vice President, Investor Relations at CyberArk.


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

I grew up in a small town in North Central Massachusetts.  I would describe myself as curious and always busy. I was involved in a lot of activities from yearbook to student government to plays.  I enjoyed the outdoors, all sports and was an avid reader. 

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

I went to the College of the Holy Cross, a liberal arts college, and majored in economics.  My first job was at Lehman Brothers as a financial analyst in the high-yield investment banking group.  I didn’t have a finance or accounting degree so I have always felt fortunate that I found a position in a finance-role right out of school. 

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

Early in my career, I could have continued in investment banking at Lehman Brothers in New York City.  I made what was viewed at the time as a risky decision.  I left Lehman Brothers and moved back to Boston without a job to be closer to family.  I was planning to go back to school to get my MBA.  As an interim step, I accepted a position at an investor relations / corporate communications agency, Sharon Merrill Associates, where I worked with great people and gained valuable experience and training.  A second big decision came, when I was offered a position to run investor relations at a pre-IPO technology company.  My business school applications were ready to submit, but instead I joined the technology company.  Since that time, I have built my career in investor relations.  

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I am responsible for investor relations at CyberArk, a publicly traded cybersecurity company. The role of investor relations enables two-way communication between CyberArk and the financial community to help ensure the strategy is understood and to drive a fair market valuation.  I work cross functionally with finance, marketing, legal, sales, R&D and product management to help position CyberArk to the investment community.  I often speak to our investors and analysts to discuss our financials as well as our strategy.  I also provide feedback from our shareholders to management to ensure there is two-way communication. 

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

No, I didn’t even know investor relations was a career.  I wanted to be a doctor and started college as a biology / pre-med major, but I didn’t like chemistry.    

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?

Credibility is one of the most valuable assets in investor relations, making the people you work with critical.  For me, it has always been important to work at a company and with a leadership team, who share my commitment to transparency and building trusted relationships. 

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

To be successful, you need to understand finance and accounting and have strong communication skills.  I also think listening is important.  Investors analyze every word and nuance of a discussion. Good listeners will recognize if something is misinterpreted and be able to quickly adjust the message. 

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

Change is constant in investor relations, which is incredibly challenging and equally rewarding. 

I love it! CyberArk is a fast-growing company, in a great market. Investor relations is set against the macro and stock market backdrop. And when you think about today, we are living in unprecedented times with the COVID-19 pandemic.  

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Building an investor relations program at a newly public company.  

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

The National Investor Relations Institute has been an important part of my career over the years. 

What’s next for you and your career?

There are new developments in investor relations, like ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) investing.  I have been working with a team to help enhance our ESG program.  


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love to go out to dinner, hike, spend time with family, walk / play with the dog and travel. I also enjoy a good book.

How do you manage stress?

Getting outdoors –nature grounds me. 

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

2 to 3 cups of coffee, but I have a hard cut off – no coffee after noon.  

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

One is too hard! If forced to pick, Fenway Park.  A few bonus places include: The North End, Mount Monadnock area, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Minuteman Bike Path. 

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

Podcasts:  American Scandal

Books: Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. Fun summer reads by Fredrik Backman including A Man Called Ove, Beartown, The Deal of Lifetime; The Luckiest Man by Jonathan Eig

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

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. 

About the
Company

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

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Lead(H)er Profile - Nancy Liberman, Vice President, Marketing at JRNI banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Nancy Liberman, Vice President, Marketing at JRNI

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Nancy Liberman, Vice President, Marketing at JRNI.


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

I grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio which was a lovely place to grow up, and not similar at all to the town depicted in the recent series Little Fires Everywhere.  I was a curious, busy child - very into books, baking, writing, playing in the street with my friends (who remembers those days) and riding bikes everywhere.

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

I spent two years at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do; I only knew that I didn’t want to embark on a path that required grad school.  So I studied communications, and took my junior year off to really figure out what direction I wanted to pursue. Instead of returning to Northwestern, I transferred to Boston University where I could exit school with a well-rounded portfolio of work between my experience with BU’s AdLab, internships, and my courses. 

For my first job, I went to work at a publishing company as an assistant to make enough money to go to Europe as a graduation present to myself.  The company was Ziff Davis, publisher of PC Week and PC Magazine, one of the first high tech publishers.  I went to Europe, returned, and was offered full-time employment.  I stayed there for nearly ten years in a variety of sales and marketing positions, and continue to work with some of those colleagues today.

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

My path was a little strange in that I didn’t really have an end goal, and I was happy as long as I was learning. I started my career with 5 years in sales - inside and outside sales - which I’d recommend to anyone who is evaluating a marketing career.  The first critical moment was admitting that sales, while a successful career, wasn’t my passion, however, I had so much training and a unique perspective that a move into marketing was natural.

After 5 years in marketing,I felt my career was pretty well-rounded, the only thing I felt I was lacking was experience in PR.  So,  I joined a former colleague at a PR firm in Boston, where I worked on new business accounts and customer references for the largest accounts. 

The next critical step was to try client - side marketing where I could take all of the skills I had amassed throughout my career and put them  behind a single company. I joined a startup as a PR Manager, where I stayed for 7 years until I was promoted to VP of Marketing, when the company was then sold.  For me, I love working on the brand and positioning, interfacing with sales and product, and working with an agency to drive the outward communications and then seeing it all come together. 

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I joined JRNI about 15 months ago. My first team project was to rebrand the company from its previous name and brand, BookingBug and branding continues to be a main focus for me. Currently, I oversee a small team and we do everything in house, from SEO and SEM to product marketing and  public relations. Every day brings a new challenge, especially in the age of this pandemic!

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

In all candor, I thought I’d be a writer.  I had fantasies of writing the great American novel. So while I’m not where I thought I’d be, I’m not sure there’s anywhere I’d rather be right now.

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 best advice that I’ve ever been given is not to confuse activity with results. So many marketers try to fill the calendar with all kinds of activity without analyzing the results, and it’s a big mistake.

I think the other advice I’d offer, especially for those coming out of school, is to think about the company you are applying to, and the skills you have to offer.  As an example, I work at a B2B SaaS company, I don’t want to hire someone who tells me that I need to have a full blown Instagram and TikTok strategy - I guess the moral is know your audience.

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

I think the key to doing any marketing job well is good grammar and the ability to spell.  It may sound elementary, but think about how many times a day you see ‘s as a means of making something plural, or the number of times you come across the “there - they’re - their” offense.  Writing and spelling are core to anything you do in marketing, and they never go out of vogue.

The other skill is the ability to mentor. It takes time and personal growth, but the ability to work with someone through a project to help them be better is key.  You are only as strong as the weakest member of your team.

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

There’s still something very satisfying about seeing the company name in the press, but I think the most rewarding piece is seeing former colleagues succeed on their own.  I’ve worked with a number of people who are now Directors and VPs on their own and it is very rewarding to have been part of that ascent.

As for challenges, which marketers spin as opportunities, is probably planning for the unexpected. COVID-19 represented a challenge none of us ever imagined, and for marketers, it was tenuous whether you were being helpful or exploitative. It’s a great challenge, but hard to prepare for!

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

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.

A close second was receiving a call from a professor who wanted me to write the forward to a book on women in leadership.  That is, until he realized I was not Nancy Lieberman, the first women’s professional basketball player!

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

Over the years, I’ve done a lot of work with MITX from judging some of the new product competitions to volunteering at their events.  But these days, my efforts are spent closer to home in and around my town.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I like to travel. JRNI is based in London, so that’s given me some time to travel around.  I like to read, spend time with friends and see as much live music around Boston as possible.

How do you manage stress?

I don’t have any magic formula.  Sometimes I snap, sometimes I just walk around, sometimes I nap.

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

I start most days with 2 cups of STOK cold brew.

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

I live in Charlestown, and nothing makes me happier than a walk along the water, by the Bunker Hill Monument or along the small streets to enjoy the architecture and the flower boxes.

Any book or podcast recommendations?

I’m not a huge podcast person, and yes, I’m aware that it’s a blasphemous position. Right now, I’m reading Elinor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and it’s thoroughly enjoyable.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

As I mentioned above, do whatever you can to hone your writing skills.  Both spelling and writing.  It is the foundation for anything you do in marketing.

About the
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JRNI is an enterprise SaaS scheduling platform for personalizing and optimizing the customer journey.

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