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

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Lead(H)er Profile - Heather Bentley, SVP Customer Success & Support at Mimecast banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Heather Bentley, SVP Customer Success & Support at Mimecast

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Heather Bentley, SVP Customer Success & Support at Mimecast.


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

I grew up in a small town in upstate NY called Cambridge.  As a child, I was very studious and loved the outdoors. I was very fortunate to live in a place where you could go outside for walks.  I liked to read and was very musical.  I would have to say I was always curious and loved new experiences and learning new things.

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

I studied Business and Management Information Systems at Wake Forest University.  I was a Technical Support Engineer in my first job and learned a lot about empathy.  Most of my customers worked for non-profit organizations and were not very computer literate.  The lessons I learned there have followed me throughout my career.

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

I am one of those unique people who has done almost every role in their scope of responsibility at some point in my career.  I have provided front line support, done professional services and training at customer site, and customer success management.  I have also held every leadership post along the way from frontline manager to SVP.  One of the biggest things I did for my career was move to Europe.  It helped me grow from Manager to Director level and increased my global awareness.  Partnering with other business units outside of support and services also helped increase my business acumen and played a key part in being selected for more senior opportunities.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I am currently the global SVP of Customer Success and Support, responsible for Technical Support, Professional Services, and Customer Success.  I sit on the Mimecast ExCo team representing the customer journey.

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

I have always wanted to be successful, so I believe this aligns with where I hoped I would be.  I have been very fortunate to work with a number of amazing people who have had a great impact on my life.

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?

Don’t ever stop asking questions and always put yourself forward for opportunities that stretch you.  Don’t stay too long with one company- I probably made that mistake.  Moving around gives you different experiences and also makes you more well rounded.

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

Empathy, Business Acumen, Emotional Intelligence, and the ability to make decisions.

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

I enjoy working with people from all over the world and being part of a diverse team.  I appreciate the various points of view that different experiences bring to the table.  Probably one of the most challenging is a result of being a truly global team and trying to make sure that I am available for my team members all over the world.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

I earned my MBA while holding a full time job, got a technical Security certification, and helping many of my team members reach their goals

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

I am an Assistant Scout Leader and do a variety of activities to promote STEM in my local community.

What’s next for you and your career?

Right now, I am really excited doing what I am doing.  Very few people get to do what they enjoy doing.  I love the fact that I get to help customers stay safe from emerging cyber security threats and develop my team members to be the best they can be.


Q&A

Heather Bentley MimecastWhat do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy spending time with my two Shih Tzu’s, going for walks, SUP (standup paddleboarding), camping, and cooking.

How do you manage stress?

I try to stay active and spend time with my dogs

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

No more than 2- morning only!  My time in the UK ensures I drink tea in the afternoons and evenings.

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

I have a soft spot for upstate NY.

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

I really enjoy fiction stories. If you haven’t heard of the Rivers of London series, I would recommend it.  

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Do something that you are passionate about and work in a job that is meaningful to you.  Make sure that the mission and values of the organization align to you personally.  It is hard to work in an organization that doesn’t share your views.

About the
Company

Mimecast delivers relentless protection. Each day, we take on cyber disruption for our customers around the globe, solving the number one cyberattack vector – email.

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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

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


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

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

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

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

Joanne Wu Cyberark

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

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

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

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

Any tips for someone considering a career in Business Development?

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


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Coffee, 24 oz, 7:00 sharp

What time do you get into the office? 

8:30

What are three things that motivate you in your role?

  • People at CyberArk
  • People at my Partners

  • Joint business goals
     

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

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

Joanne Wu Cyberark

What time do you head out of the office? 

5:30

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

Sometimes, it depends on the day.

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

  • iMessage

  • Waze

  • Insta

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

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

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

 Former bosses (lots) in the security industry.


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

About the
Company

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

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

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

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


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

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

Carolyn Pampino Brightcove
The YMCA Pool, circa 1970's

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your current role and responsibilities?

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

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

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


Q&A

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

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


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

Final advice to pass on?

“Bring your whole human to work. Create a psychologically safe work environment and set goals. Then trust your team to use their wisdom. Laugh. Celebrate. Cry if you have to, and watch how much more you get done together.”


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

About the
Company

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suzi Peled Cyberark

What is your current role and responsibilities?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

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

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

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

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

What’s next for you and your career?

No idea! That’s the fun part


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

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

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

Suzy Peled Cyberark

How do you manage stress?

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

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

Too many

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

Cambridge. Where our American adventure began. 

Any book or podcast recommendations?  (Professional or fun)

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Podcast – How I built it series

Rise and Fall of Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

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


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

About the
Company

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your current role and responsibilities?

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

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

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

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

Be committed to learning, work hard every day and be open to the opportunities that come your way. And don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. If you’re not making some mistakes, you’re probably not working hard enough. 

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

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

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

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

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

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

What’s next for you and your career?

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


Q&A

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

Kim Simone Constant Contact

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

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

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

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

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


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

About the
Company

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

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

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

Open Jobs Company Page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

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

What are your strategies for managing stress?

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

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

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

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

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

What do you consider one of your proudest accomplishments?

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

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

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

What’s your advice for recent college graduates?

Find something you’re passionate about. There’s nothing like getting up to go to work when your passion and work are aligned. Every day is a joy.


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

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

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

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

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

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


Matisha Ladiwala InsightSquared

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

Check out the full Article   View InsightSquared's Jobs


Kate Westervelt MOMBOX

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

Check out the full Article   


Layla Shaikley Wise Systems

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

Check out the full Article   View Wise Systems' Jobs


Sabrina Manville Edmit

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

Check out the full Article   


Emily Glass Datto

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

Check out the full Article   View datto's Jobs


Kristin (Somol) Simonini Applause

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

Check out the full Article   View applause's Jobs


Catherine Richards BHE

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

Check out the full Article 


Kim Rose Buildium

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

Check out the full Article   View Buildium's Jobs


Heather Ames Neurala

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

Check out the full Article   View Neurala's Jobs


Tacita Morway ActBlue

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

Check out the full Article 


Alison Aldrich Privy

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

Check out the full Article   View Privy's Jobs


Ann Toomey Wellist

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

Check out the full Article   View Wellist's Jobs


Amy Littlefield ThriveHive

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

Check out the full Article   View ThriveHive's Jobs


Kate Pope Smith Openbay

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

Check out the full Article 


Susan Rice Toast

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

Check out the full Article   View Toast's Jobs


Elizabeth Graham Notarize

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

Check out the full Article   View Notarize's Jobs


Sarah (Mattice) Hill Eze Software

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

Check out the full Article   View Eze Software's Jobs


Leanne Orphanos Applause

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

Check out the full Article   View Applause's Jobs


Kyle Polischuk MOO

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

Check out the full Article   View moo's Jobs


Tatyana Gubin CozyKin

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

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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

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