What do the career path and the day-in-the-life look like for a Sr Manager of Operation Strategy at Hometap?
We connected with Samantha Sandler to find out!
Interested in learning more about Hometap and their job openings? Make sure to check out their company page on VentureFizz!
Where did you grow up? What did your parents do for work?
I grew up in a small town named Madison, Connecticut. My mom and dad started a logistics company 30+ years ago based out of Windsor, Connecticut. Unfortunately, my dad passed away when I was younger, so my mom took over and grew the business full time while raising my brother, sister, and I. Growing up watching my mom run the business primed me for the working world, as I got to see firsthand how difficult it is to build and run something successfully on your own. Both my parents’ work ethic and dedication to their business is something that has always motivated me to know that if you work hard, good things will come.
Where did you go to college? What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school?
I started my college career at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. Growing up, I played a lot of sports and was lucky enough to play both field and ice hockey at Trinity. Ultimately, I decided that I had been in Connecticut long enough and wanted to stretch myself academically, so I transferred to Vanderbilt University in Nashville to study economics and retired from sports.
My first job out of school was with a Boston-based tech startup called Catalant. I had interned for them the summer before graduation and started out on the Network Strategy team. I have always described that role as a hybrid of sales, recruiting, and project management. It was an amazing job right out of school because it gave me the opportunity to learn about different industries and how enterprise and private equity companies were structured. It gave me access to a lot of very successful and smart people — who I wouldn't have normally been able to learn from — both externally and internally.
You recently transitioned from a role in Sales to a role in Operations. What prompted the change? How has the transition been?
I have! That is a great question. I joined Hometap as the fifth salesperson and have seen our team grow to 80+. What I loved most about my time in sales, besides helping our homeowners, was being a part of that growth and the ability to wear a lot of hats and make an impact.
On top of that, I have always had a sincere interest in the forward vision of the company, understanding why we make the decisions we do, and how we can become more efficient on our way there. Many of my one-on-one meetings with my previous manager and VP of Sales, Dan Amato, would be spent learning about the types of meetings he is in and asking about his vision for the company in the future. I ultimately saw an opening for me to give back to the company in a new way and develop a new set of skills on our Operations Strategy team. The role can have a positive impact on sales with our improved processes, so even though I am not directly under the umbrella of sales, I will still be able to influence their success!
What has attributed to your success thus far and has helped propel you to the position you have now?
One of our values here at Hometap is putting the team and homeowner first. Since I joined back in 2020, if anyone ever asked for help or asked me to step in, I have never said no. I try to approach each day by understanding how my role plugs into the greater company mission. I have an innate competitiveness, so I utilize that part of myself to make sure I can be the best in whatever position I am currently in. By doing this and being available as a resource to my teammates, I recognize that it will hopefully propel me to where I would like to be professionally. Additionally, on our sales team, there was a defined set of milestones to hit that I could strive for to get me that next promotion. I always knew what I was gunning for and was able to move up in our sales organization.
I have also been fortunate enough to have had incredible mentors both inside and outside of Hometap. In particular, Dan Amato has always enabled me to do more than what has been in my job description. He has helped open the door for me to work cross-functionally and expose me to new opportunities. Being able to get insight into other parts of the business was the first indicator to me that I may be better suited for a strategy role at this point in my career.
Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as a Sr Manager of Operation Strategy at Hometap?
In my role as Senior Manager of Ops Strategy, there is a meaningful opportunity to improve our systems, process, and approach to scaling our business, improving customer and employee satisfaction, and using speed and quality of execution as Hometap’s competitive advantage. I help to ensure that our operations can support continued growth and smooth execution. I work closely with internal stakeholders to identify, prioritize, and execute on process improvement opportunities to enhance our homeowner and Hometap employee experiences.
Any tips for someone considering a career in your field?
When I was in the sales organization, I would join all new hires for lunch during their first or second week. I would often get the question, “How do I get promoted?” I will share what I share in those meetings, and I think it holds true for all fields. First, focus on what your current job is, and do that exceptionally well. Once you do that, you will solidify yourself amongst your peers and across the company as the “go-to” person. If someone asks you to participate in something, help them out, or do them a favor, say yes. If you marry those two things and become an asset to the organization, I have no doubt you will get wherever you want to go.
Day in the Life
Coffee, tea, or nothing?
Black coffee with cinnamon, but not as soon as I wake up. I usually have my first sip around 8:45/9am.
What time do you start working?
It really depends on the day. I have a hard time disconnecting, so I am always responding to emails or internal messages. But, I would say I am always ready to go, standing at my desk by 8:15 AM.
Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?
I am an early riser and tend to be woken up by my furry alarm clock and five year-old golden retriever, Ollie, around 6am. I’ll wake up, feed him, take him for a walk, and then get ready to go to the gym. That gives me time to have my “moving meditation” and set myself up for success that day. Once back, I log on, answer any emails that I have not yet replied to, and get started on the day. My typical day has shifted a lot in my time at Hometap from a lot of external calls to homeowners, to helping members of the sales team internally, to now to working cross-functionally and closely with my manager. We’ll check in on current projects in flight and learn how those intersect with other initiatives across the organization. I live in NYC without a yard, so I’ll take Ollie out again on a quick walk around 3, and then come back to work and tend to wrap up around 6:30/7 depending on the day. As previously mentioned, I am not great at disconnecting so will monitor messages and emails and will pop back on, if needed. If not, I love to go out and meet friends for dinner or drinks in the city! Or, curl up on the couch with Ollie and watch TV.
Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?
It really depends on what I am working on. Some days I don’t have to. Others, I see something pop up on my phone and I would rather take care of it at that moment than wait until the next day.
Any productivity hacks?
I am a big snoozer of my Slack notifications. We are a mostly remote company, so all communication outside of meetings is done via Slack. It is an awesome tool; but, between the direct messages and channels, it is important for me to snooze when I need dedicated time to focus.
What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?
I am most proud of seeing the progress that members of my sales team made while I was their manager. The reps that I worked with have come such a long way. Seeing how they have come into their own, grown their confidence, realized their potential, and become leaders on the sales floor was the most rewarding part of my previous role.
Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?
I mentioned previously that I have been very fortunate with mentors both inside and outside of Hometap. One person in particular that I always call upon for professional advice outside of Hometap is my cousin, Aleca Hughes. I grew up trying to chase her in the hockey rink (spoiler: that did not pan out). But now in a professional setting, it is similar. She has climbed her way up at her current company and always gives great advice, challenges me to be better, and gives direct and actionable feedback. I am very lucky to have her on my team.