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Lead(H)er Profile - Bela Labovitch, VP of Engineering at athenahealth banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Bela Labovitch, VP of Engineering at athenahealth

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Bela Labovitch, VP of Engineering at athenahealth.


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

I earned my Bachelor’s degrees in both Computer Science and Psychology from Brandeis University and my Master’s degree in Computer Science from Northeastern University. I have always loved to code, and my first job out of college was as a software engineer (no surprise!).

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

My career path was not linear - I started out as a Software Engineer and then went down the management path. I was working long hours as the Director of Engineering of a dynamic and fast-moving organization when a critical moment in my career occurred. My second son, then eighteen months old and possessing a limited vocabulary, said “Mom, I hate, hate that you work.” It was then that I decided it would be better to balance work and mothering two boys by returning to an individual contributor role. So, I stepped down from my Director position and spent my children’s formative years working part-time as a developer and architect. Ten years later, when I returned to full-time work and eventually a management position, I realized that you could toggle between management and individual contributor functions effectively. For those managers who miss being hands-on, it is possible to go back and forth - in fact, it can make you a better manager.

My 18-month-old has since grown up. I am pictured below with both of my children.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I currently lead engineering for athenahealth’s flagship Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) product athenaCollector. athenahealth’s vision is to create a thriving ecosystem that delivers accessible, high-quality, and sustainable healthcare for all. I lead a team of architects and developers whose goal is to deliver stable, scalable, performant and secure software to support our healthcare provider community. I am proud that our product has received a 2020 Best in KLAS award for Ambulatory RCM Services.

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

Earlier in my career the only thing I knew was that I wanted to be doing what I was passionate about, while making a difference in this world. I was always enthusiastic about building excellent software that has an impact on people’s lives. I am lucky to be in a position where I love my job and find it very rewarding. One of my goals also includes developing and retaining women in the technology field and cultivating women leaders. Being on the steering committee of one of athenahealth’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) – the Women’s Leadership Forum — and founding our Women in Technology initiative has given me an outlet to express myself, mentor, and help achievethis goal.

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?

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

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

My job is to create and sustain high-performing teams that deliver great outcomes for our customers. Towards this, it is important for me to focus on creating a culture for my team to do their best work, optimize processes and imbue software excellence in my organization. I need to care deeply about and understand my team, communicate well, empower my staff and make sure I keep learning and stay on top of technology and healthcare trends. In short, I need the skills to be both a great leader and technologist.

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

There are so many interesting things about my work - different pockets of my organization are solving various problems of automation, scale, performance and creation of value for our customers, who are healthcare providers. Most challenging (and interesting!) for athenahealth’s engineering team is our microservice journey, as we work towards partitioning our software into independent pieces of functionality, while continuing to delight and deliver value to our healthcare community.   

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

I am passionate about bringing and keeping women in STEM - particularly technology - and I mentor and speak at various local organizations such as Girls Who Code. I belong to The Boston Club and work with women across technology companies in the Boston area on programming for women. I am looking forward to joining and getting more involved with the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association this year.

What’s next for you and your career?

I am perfectly happy with where I am right now and someday look to be on an Executive leadership team for an organization. I would also like to serve as a board member for some organizations whose values align with mine.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I am a reader and belong to two book clubs. I run and practice yoga, and I love being outside. I also like to volunteer and have been a long-time parental stress counselor and serve on the board of a non-profit called Parents Helping Parents.

How do you manage stress?

Between meditation, yoga, and running, I have had a good handle on stress (mostly!).  

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

I love my coffee! Two cups a day, maybe three if I have a break from meetings and can get a third.

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

I love the water - take me anywhere - the Boston Harbor, Crane Beach or Lake Waban and I am happy!

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

Here is what you will find on my bedside today - books that I am reading right now:

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

My son graduated from college this month, so I have a lot of advice! This is a hard time - college graduates have missed much of their final semester, time with friends and find themselves graduating into a tough job market. They are learning early, that things don’t always go the way you imagine they will. But this is an opportunity to purposefully learn resilience and grit. Be grateful for all that is good and stay optimistic, every day. Confront your fears, and then move forward with a sense of purpose - you can make a difference every day, to your community and to the larger world. Take this privilege, give to others and work hard - life will fall into place and be good.

About the
Company

athenahealth is a leading provider of network-enabled services & mobile apps for medical groups & health systems.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Nausheen Moulana, VP of Engineering at Kyruus banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Nausheen Moulana, VP of Engineering at Kyruus

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

I grew up in Hyderabad, a 400+ year old historic city in southern India. As a child, I enjoyed reading a lot. I liked science but didn’t care for math until middle school when I had an amazing math teacher who made learning math very interesting and so much fun. 

My dad was an engineer who led several significant public works engineering projects. My mom worked in social services and developed many initiatives in collaboration with organizations like CARE, UNICEF, and WHO to improve the welfare of women and children, especially in rural and tribal areas. So, as a girl, from a very early age, education, achieving economic independence, and serving/supporting others in need were (and continue to be) very important to me.  

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

I wanted to be an engineer! I have a BS and MS in Electronics & Communication Engineering, and Electrical Engineering respectively. I got an MBA from Babson College while also actively working full-time as an engineering manager.  

My first job after obtaining my MS was as a quality engineering lead. My first project involved the design and development of an in-house automated regression testing framework that integrated with the build and release system. This framework expedited the detection of defects and reduced the cost to fix them. Starting my career in quality engineering has strongly influenced how I design and develop products.  

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

The first critical moment in my career was the decision to transition into management from being an individual contributor. While I enjoyed the design and coding aspects of my role, I found that what gave me most satisfaction was solving business problems through technology, creating value for customers, and working with people to make it happen. Relative to my peers, my strength was the ability to connect execution to strategy, develop the technical plans, and consistently get things done. As I grew in my management career, I took responsibility for more functional areas and teams, and that naturally provided impetus for me to develop my project management and process orientation skills. 

After over a decade of managing backend heavy architecture and infrastructure projects and teams, I wanted to challenge myself to manage user-facing products end-to-end as I missed not having direct customer interaction and not being involved in the development of business strategy. So, after I earned my MBA in Entrepreneurship, I took an engineering management role at a much smaller company in a different industry. This transition gave me the opportunity to have more breadth of responsibility that spanned both the core platform and applications built on it. It helped me develop new skills, for example, I had no prior experience managing front-end or applications teams. I also got to develop my business skills and become more strategic in how I operated and led teams. 

Gaining the confidence that I could successfully create customer value and build high performing teams leveraging my technical and management experience, I was very interested in developing products for healthcare, an industry I knew very little about other than being frustrated as a consumer. I felt that healthcare could benefit from technology, and saw opportunities to leverage innovation in other industries to provide patients with a better consumer experience. When I was exploring new opportunities, I was fortunate to find a match with Kyruus. I didn’t start at Kyruus in my current role but was promoted due to the experience and skills I had developing and delivering enterprise-grade products, managing large teams, and process orientation which were important as Kyruus had found its product market fit and was poised to scale in terms of customers, operations, technology, and team. 

What is your current role and responsibilities?

As VP of engineering and operations at Kyruus, I lead teams across core products (full-stack Python, React, PostgreSQL, Elastic) and operations (AWS hosted microservices and SaaS SLAs) engaged in the development, deployment, and operations of cloud-native, multi-channel, enterprise-ready, market leading, patient access management SaaS applications.

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

My goal after Graduate school was to obtain a PhD in Electrical Engineering and become a professor teaching signal processing. So, no I didn’t set out to build a career in industry much less in management. I think it’s important to be open to changing your mind about your dreams and aspirations, and not locking yourself too much into a distant vision of yourself. 

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, I think it is important to figure out what gives you satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. Based on your interests, competencies you want to develop, and impact you want to have, develop a career plan. This is hard to do as the act of creating a plan forces you to think deeply and beyond just achieving a title. However, this is a hugely beneficial exercise as it gives you clarity on how to invest in your professional growth and to know you’re progressing along what matters most to you. 

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

If you aspire to build a career in management, know that your success depends on the success of your team. Create an environment and culture that enables your team to do their best, diligently remove bottlenecks, and support them in reaching their goals.  

Continually improve your skill set and develop an area of expertise by making time for professional development, connecting with your peers, and staying on top of trends and practices in your field. Be open to changing your plan and be willing to take some risks. When looking for new opportunities, assess what you can leverage from your experience to add value and what you’ll learn from the role to find the win-win for the company and your career. Sometimes to get to where you want to go, career progression may look more like rock climbing than climbing a ladder. 

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

A passion to create value for customers and solve business problems through technology combined with the ability to translate business goals and associated technology strategy to execution is pretty important. This requires a combination of technical and business skills to be successful. 

A strong engineering discipline and metrics driven mindset is key to deliver high quality products and delightful user experiences in the most nimble, iterative, cost-effective, and timely manner possible.

Competency in talent acquisition, growth, and retention is critical to build an engaged and performing team. 

Communication and collaboration skills, and the ability to work cross-functionally with Product Management, Client Delivery, Marketing, Sales, Legal, and Finance are essential to support achieving company goals.

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

It’s rewarding to know that through my team’s deliverables we enable patients to find access to the right care efficiently. Through Kyruus’ mission, I’m able to contribute to making healthcare better.

While some of it is due to regulatory and compliance requirements, what’s most challenging is that adoption of technology moves very slowly in healthcare relative to other industries. 

Nausheen Moulana Kyruus
Boston’s Best and Brightest Gala

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

A significant accomplishment for me is in a relatively short time, building a strong performing engineering team at Kyruus. About 65% of the team has been here since 2019. It’s exciting and humbling to have the opportunity to shape the team culture collectively to be mission-oriented, authentic, and pursuing excellence through continuous improvement. I’m happy that in collaboration with the HR and talent acquisition team, we’ve made good progress in improving diversity on the team. It’s also very satisfying for me to see that the team is engaged and committed through the positive trends in our employee net promoter scores (eNPS).

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

Kyruus organizes several volunteer opportunities throughout the year and Cradles to Crayons is one that I’ve helped with. When my kids were younger I was active with Destination Imagination and First Lego League, and I highly recommend both if you’re looking for volunteer opportunities. 

I co-chair Mass TLC’s Technology and Innovation community and help organize local events. I care deeply about mentoring and helping women-owned small businesses. So, I serve as a speaker, panelist, mentor, business and tech advisor, and host for several Boston area technical and talent events (e.g., Women In Tech, Women Who Code, Mass TLC, CWEL, CLTP, and several local meetups).  

Nausheen Moulana Kyruus
Mass TLC Talent Forum on Re-entry Into Workforce and Leadership Development

What’s next for you and your career?

I’m just getting started in healthcare and there’s still a lot to do in moving Kyruus’ mission forward. We continue to make strategic technology and infrastructure investments to innovate and scale the Kyruus platform to expand our offerings to new market segments and to better serve our customers. As a result, there continues to be an opportunity to take my technical and business skills to the next level.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Reading, cooking, and binge watching shows especially anything related to mystery and drama (PBS Masterpiece and Mystery! shows top my list). Lee Child and Martin Cruz Smith are among my go-to authors when I want to chill. Jack Reacher and Arkady Renko are my favorite protagonists from these authors! I enjoy cooking and adding my own twist to recipes.

How do you manage stress?
There are no silver bullets as some stress is good, it gets you out of your comfort zone, and in some situations helps improve your performance. But it can also get toxic if you let it spiral out of control. I manage stress by first acknowledging it. I let my family know that I’m dealing with a stressful day or situation and to leave me alone because I don’t want to take it out on people I care about. Deep breathing, meditation, going for a walk, listening to music, and watching shows that make me laugh are ways I deal with stress. I also try to get a good night’s sleep and that helps a lot.

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?
One. And, only if it is Bru chicory coffee.

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

The Boston Harborwalk. It’s just revitalizing to get fresh air and enjoy the city and harbor views.

Nausheen Moulana Kyruus
2019 Fall ProdDev Team Outing, Harborwalk Scavenger Hunt

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

An Elegant Puzzle: Systems of Engineering Management by Will Larson is a must read for anyone aspiring to be a competent Engineering manager.

Mixergy’s Startup Stories podcast - hear from thinkers and doers that are turning ideas and passion into viable businesses. 

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Always be learning, and be curious. Invest in your professional development. Find a mentor, whether in your organization or outside. Your mentor doesn’t have to be your immediate manager, and oftentimes it’s not. Look for someone you can learn from and can guide you to develop the skills and network to be successful. 

Step out of your comfort zone every once in a while. Step up to take on projects that expand your horizon and offer a degree of challenge. Don’t be afraid to take risks and fail. Learning from failure helps you develop experience and judgment. Remember that it is not the act of failing that is costly, but the failure to learn from your mistakes. 

About the
Company

Kyruus is the industry leader in provider search and scheduling solutions for health systems.

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Lead(H)er Profile - Cindy Stanton, VP, VRM Practice Leader at Rapid7 banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Cindy Stanton, VP, VRM Practice Leader at Rapid7

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Cindy Stanton, VP, VRM Practice Leader at Rapid7.


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

I grew up outside of Boston in Boxford, MA with my parents and my younger sister.  I was quite curious as a child and always interested in nature.  I would collect a bucket of seashells and then study what had lived in each shell, creating shoebox displays with my view on how they should be classified. 

I wanted to try almost anything in my youth. I enjoyed playing sports (both individual and team), playing musical instruments (the flute, oboe, and piano), and participating in school activities (plays, every academic team, German club, and an environmental club).  I think that my propensity to stay busy and being part of teams are traits that have stayed with me throughout my life and career. 

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

At Dartmouth College, I studied biology modified with environmental science.  And I continued my penchant for being engaged outside the classroom.  I served as Vice President of my sorority and captain of the college’s rugby team.  I also worked in a local start-up bookstore.  At that job, we started a business creating copyright-approved packets that professors wanted their students to read (i.e., articles) beyond the textbooks that we stocked.  It was an amazing experience.  I was involved in creating an expo for other businesses that wanted to access the student market during our back to school rush and designed a database and workflows to support our business processes.  That taste of entrepreneurship influenced me greatly.  Indeed, it shifted my path from medical school to business.  I participated in on-campus recruiting and took my first post-college job as an account rep for a paper mill.  You know the television show “The Office”?  We sold to companies like Dunder Mifflin.  I was told by several people that I would never regret the sales experience.  They were correct.  It was extremely beneficial and fascinating to meet the needs of different types of companies ranging from a school that needed copy paper to the retail company trying to minimize shipping costs for catalogs to the largest publishers in New York City.  There was also a bit of a wow factor working on deals that would take fifty truckloads to deliver.

Cindy Stanton Rapid7

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

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

One obvious key moment in my career was switching from a paper mill to an Internet start-up focused on the paper industry.  At its core, this was a move from manufacturing to technology (where I have stayed ever since).  With respect to the security industry—where I have spent almost twenty years—it was more luck than long-term planning.  I took a job in security initially, because it would give me some time in London, while I applied to graduate school.  Instead I found that I really loved the security space and have since been able to partner with all sorts of companies to help them protect their businesses.

I would say most of my critical moments were the result of managers believing in me and trusting me to take on more projects and responsibility.  When I have lost track of that truth, I have made decisions to work in situations that did not necessarily propel me forward and in fact were detrimental.  It is something I have promised myself to be mindful of going forward.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I am responsible for the Vulnerability Risk Management Practice at Rapid7, which includes our vulnerability management, application security, and offensive security products and services.  Rapid7 is structured into practices that are devoted to focusing on particular customer problems in the security space.  By bringing together product management, user experience, engineering, product marketing, and team members that help us map back to key cross-practice functions like Sales Engineering and Support, we are able to be highly focused on our customers getting the most value out of the solutions in each practice area.  In my role, I am responsible for our products and services meeting our promises to customers and working with my team to set our roadmap and plans to continue to evolve and delight our customers. I have an amazing team, and it is a real delight to work with them, as we set ambitious goals to improve the way customers consume our products and strive to meet them.

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

A person can only foresee so far into the future.  Cybersecurity was not on my radar, when I was in college and applying for jobs.  Once I did find this market I enjoyed, I have looked for ways to explore new facets like moving to a company focused on securing Public Cloud, because I wanted to understand how that IT trend was going to impact my area.  Some of my decisions worked out, some were not as positive. However, I am so grateful for all of those experiences. I certainly am happy where I am today and am excited about what the future may bring.

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?

My advice would be to look for opportunities to work cross-functionally to solve problems.  I have spent most of my career in product management, which is grounded in understanding customer problems and working across teams to help solve them.  It is of critical importance to develop deep partnerships within your organization to deliver results.   I sought out a product management role out of graduate school to gain that perspective, and I found much satisfaction in those roles.

I would also advise being open to taking customer facing roles that are opportunities for impact.  These roles can help build perspective invaluable to developing the right solution and working with your peers to get that solution to customers.  And being open to opportunities to drive impact that are outside your comfort zone is always a plus. Be comfortable taking risks and be okay with admitting when those risks have not delivered your desired result, so you can change your course and get in a better situation.  Broad experiences and perspectives provide the experience to tackle a cross-functional role like the one I enjoy.

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

I think the most important skills for my job are systems thinking, being data driven, and having empathy.  System thinking allows me to look at each part of our work to build and market our products and think about how it impacts the overall customer experience.  Then using data to understand those experiences, solve problems, and develop the right metrics to track our progress is critical to how we stay on track and help influence others to support our mission.  And I don’t think I can overstate how crucial empathy is to helping not only to understand what our customers need from us to get value and meet their needs, but also to be better partners internally to drive a cohesive approach across all functions to support progress for customers. 

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

What intrigued me about cybersecurity from the start was the need to evolve to meet the changing threats from human adversaries.  Over time, it has become clear that easy to use and effective solutions are the best deterrents to the majority of threats.  I have worked with many customers on the bleeding edge of technology and security, but at this stage in my career I am also really passionate about solving security problems for companies with fewer resources and skills.  Often, we are working with customers as they navigate their worst day.  Helping them respond, separate the initial fears from the reality of impact and supporting them as they plan to evolve to mitigate the threat in the future is really rewarding. 

The challenge that I like to tackle is making navigating the complex world of cybersecurity simpler for our customers. Making security more attainable to every organization is a passion of mine and an exciting challenge to take on.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

I am proud of a number of moments in my career.  One that was early on, but always stays with me is working to find a new home for my team, when my first cybersecurity company in London lost funding, due to a conflict with investors rather than health of the business.  I am proud of staying focused in that turbulent time to build the case to be successfully acquired by a US based cybersecurity firm.  Our office’s success following the acquisition allowed us to quickly become 25% of overall revenue, responsible for bringing in the top commercial clients and supporting that firm’s acquisition by a large telecom.  Our team of wickedly smart penetration testers, experienced security consultants and sharp sales people came to work everyday believing we could slay dragons, and somehow we did.  I am proud of our accomplishments and also the friendships that I still cherish today.

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

I genuinely do wish that I were involved in professional organizations, but there are only so many hours in a day.  I do attend local events for women’s technology and product groups.  I have two elementary school aged daughters and a 16-year-old stepson.  I find myself thinking about life as seasons, and this is a season where my commitment to my children and our community has taken precedence over professional organizations.  I am a board member of my children’s PTA, lead my oldest daughter’s girl scout troop, and manage my daughter’s sports teams (my husband serves as the coach).  I am also involved in community service programs through our church.

What’s next for you and your career?

I have been at Rapid7 for almost a year.  When I joined Rapid7, I felt like I was coming home.  I love the culture, the people and the problems we are solving for customers.  Hopefully, what is next in my career is to continue to contribute to our mission in a way that maximizes my impact for our team and my customers.  I know it sounds corny, but when you find a place that lets you be your best, you want to just stay there and do just that.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Free time is such a lovely idea! I wish there were more of it!  In my free time, I love to spend time with my family.  Whether playing or watching sports (we live very close to a college, where we are big fans of their teams), walking in the woods, or just cuddling and watching a movie, they really are the focus of my free time these days. 

Cindy Stanton Rapid7

How do you manage stress?

I should say exercise, and I have found particularly during the last month here at home, it has been a big help.  I try to stay focused on all the things that I am grateful for.  During the Coronavirus, I still have plenty of work to do.  But there is no group of people I would rather be on lockdown with than my family.

I think for me the greatest stress relief is connecting with others.  Before the lockdown, one of my best friends and I would connect for 15 minutes in the morning on our commutes.  I also have friends from my children's school that share the frustrations and help see the funny side of things.  Sharing my worries, helping someone else with theirs and trying to find humor in this crazy journey we are all on is something that helps me to manage my stress. 

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

Zero.  I am one of those strange people that does not drink coffee.  Everyone told me it would happen in college, first job, living in Europe, graduate school, first baby, and I just never liked the taste.  I have a terrible habit of grabbing a Coke Zero in the mid-afternoon for a little jolt.  If you see me in the morning, please excuse my uncaffienated self.

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

I grew up in Boston and one of the things I have loved about joining Rapid7 is getting back to Boston regularly.  Spending time in Boxford at my parents’ house with my kids is probably my favorite thing.  Having two little city kids from DC getting to roam the woods and enjoy lots of space to play has brought me a lot of joy. 

 Any book or podcast recommendations?

I do not read nearly as much as I did when I was younger.  But I do listen to podcasts, while commuting and exercising.  My favorite podcasts are SaaStr, Darknet Diaries, and Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Every role in a company is important.  Being a great team member is about not only your skill and hard work, but about how you work to make everyone on the team better and meet your shared goals.  Trust that a focus on being part of and contributing to a great team will deliver opportunity.  And remember that careers are long.  You are not in a race and oftentimes your progression is not linear, so be patient and maximize where you are versus always looking to what is next.

About the
Company

With Rapid7 technology, services, and research, organizations around the globe can break down barriers, accelerate innovation, and securely advance.

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

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

Open Jobs Company Page

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


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

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

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

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

Joanne Wu Cyberark

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

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

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

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

Any tips for someone considering a career in Business Development?

Whether you are looking at Business Development or not:  build up your network. Your network is an asset that will be with you for life; it will follow you wherever you go.  If you are in Business Development or Sales, it can be an essential asset to furthering your business. If you are not in Business Development, you will develop contacts and friendships that may last for life.  You never know where your network will take you, but it’s important to have a solid network.


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Coffee, 24 oz, 7:00 sharp

What time do you get into the office? 

8:30

What are three things that motivate you in your role?

  • People at CyberArk
  • People at my Partners

  • Joint business goals
     

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

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

Joanne Wu Cyberark

What time do you head out of the office? 

5:30

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

Sometimes, it depends on the day.

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

  • iMessage

  • Waze

  • Insta

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

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

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

 Former bosses (lots) in the security industry.


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

About the
Company

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suzi Peled Cyberark

What is your current role and responsibilities?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

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

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

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

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

What’s next for you and your career?

No idea! That’s the fun part


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

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

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

Suzy Peled Cyberark

How do you manage stress?

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

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

Too many

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

Cambridge. Where our American adventure began. 

Any book or podcast recommendations?  (Professional or fun)

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Podcast – How I built it series

Rise and Fall of Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

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


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

About the
Company

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

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

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

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

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


Matisha Ladiwala InsightSquared

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

Check out the full Article   View InsightSquared's Jobs


Kate Westervelt MOMBOX

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

Check out the full Article   


Layla Shaikley Wise Systems

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

Check out the full Article   View Wise Systems' Jobs


Sabrina Manville Edmit

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

Check out the full Article   


Emily Glass Datto

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

Check out the full Article   View datto's Jobs


Kristin (Somol) Simonini Applause

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

Check out the full Article   View applause's Jobs


Catherine Richards BHE

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

Check out the full Article 


Kim Rose Buildium

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

Check out the full Article   View Buildium's Jobs


Heather Ames Neurala

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

Check out the full Article   View Neurala's Jobs


Tacita Morway ActBlue

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

Check out the full Article 


Alison Aldrich Privy

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

Check out the full Article   View Privy's Jobs


Ann Toomey Wellist

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

Check out the full Article   View Wellist's Jobs


Amy Littlefield ThriveHive

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

Check out the full Article   View ThriveHive's Jobs


Kate Pope Smith Openbay

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

Check out the full Article 


Susan Rice Toast

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

Check out the full Article   View Toast's Jobs


Elizabeth Graham Notarize

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

Check out the full Article   View Notarize's Jobs


Sarah (Mattice) Hill Eze Software

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

Check out the full Article   View Eze Software's Jobs


Leanne Orphanos Applause

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

Check out the full Article   View Applause's Jobs


Kyle Polischuk MOO

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

Check out the full Article   View moo's Jobs


Tatyana Gubin CozyKin

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

Check out the full Article 


Renee Bochman Salsify

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

Check out the full Article   View salsify's Jobs


Gabriela McManus Drizly

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

Check out the full Article   View Drizly's Jobs


Joyce Bell PrismHR

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

Check out the full Article   View prismhr's Jobs


Laura Scott Takeoff

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

Check out the full Article   View Takeoff's Jobs


Amanda (LeVine) Bohne AppNeta

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

Check out the full Article   View appneta's Jobs


Heather Hartford Acquia

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

Check out the full Article   View Acquia's Jobs


Meeta Mathur MineralTree

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

Check out the full Article   View Mineraltree's Jobs


Courtney Cunnane SmartBear

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

Check out the full Article   View SmartBear's Jobs


Ella Alkalay Schreiber Hopper

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

Check out the full Article   View Hopper's Jobs


Kelly Esten Toast

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

Check out the full Article   View Toast's Jobs


Jackie Swansburg Paulino Pixability

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

Check out the full Article   View Pixability's Jobs


Allyson Barr Attivio

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

Check out the full Article   View Attivio's Jobs


Barbara E. Scarcella Netbrain

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

Check out the full Article   View Netbrain Technologies' Jobs


Maria Manrique O'Reilly

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

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


Kate Adams Drift

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

Check out the full Article   View Drift's Jobs


Lorraine Vargas Townsend Mendix

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

Check out the full Article   View Mendix's Jobs


Lauren Melton Ellecation Education

Lauren Melton, Vice President of People Operations at Ellevation Education

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

Check out the full Article   View Ellevation Education's Jobs


Katie Mallett Panorama education

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

Check out the full Article   View Panorama Education's Jobs


Melissa Campbell Tamr

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

Check out the full Article   View Tamr's Jobs


Lauren Zajac Workhuman

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

Check out the full Article   View Workhuman's Jobs


Lauren (LeBlanc) Mead TimeTrade

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

Check out the full Article   View TimeTrade's Jobs


Stephanie Bourdage-Braun SS&C Intralinks

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

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


Molly Donaher Toast

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

Check out the full Article   View Toast's Jobs


Vitri Bhandari

Vitri Bhandari, VP People Ops & Strategy at Klaviyo

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

Check out the full article   View Klaviyo Jobs

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

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

Open Jobs Company Page

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 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

Open Jobs Company Page

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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