Lead(H)er Profile - Leigha Kemmett, COO at Tomorrow.io banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Leigha Kemmett, COO at Tomorrow.io

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the tech industry. In this Q&A, we are featuring Leigha Kemmett, COO at Tomorrow.io


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

I grew up south of Boston, in the suburbs. I am the oldest of three children and I think I have always had classic oldest-child personality traits (i.e. my siblings found me a bit bossy for their tastes).

Leigha Kemmett Tomorrow.io

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

A little known fact about me is that I actually started Cornell as an engineer, though I realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t for me and changed my major to government. After graduation, I took a job in investment banking in New York. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and investment banking just seemed like an interesting first role that could help me figure out my career path. I learned everything I know about finance because I had incredible, generous colleagues who taught me the ropes of investment banking in that job. I never wanted to be a career banker, but I am very grateful to have had my banking years. They provided a solid foundation for the rest of 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?

When I left banking, I wanted to work in an industry that I found personally interesting, and I love movies, so I took a job in corporate strategy at 20th Century Fox. I honestly thought I would work in entertainment forever – I loved my time at Fox, and I later spent time at Hulu and Disney. But when I ended up at a startup in the entertainment space (Brat), running their finance team, I realized that what I valued most in a job was being able to build something - so startups are perfect for me. When the Tomorrow.io opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance, because I knew I’d get to help build something really meaningful. Transitioning from entertainment to SaaS was a huge change for me, but I knew that I loved the team and I loved the role – and it was a great decision. 

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I’m currently the COO at Tomorrow.io, which is a platform for global weather and climate security. I’m essentially responsible for making sure that everyone at the company is rowing the boat in the same direction – setting priorities and direction, and ensuring that all of our decision-making and priorities are serving our broader vision and strategy. I get to touch every part of the business, which is great. 

Leigha Kemmett Tomorrow.io

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

I don’t think I ever really knew the exact title or role, but I always knew I wanted to be able to operate a business and put all of the pieces together across functions. So it’s definitely an amazing fit with my career interests.

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?

I think it helps to get experience in as many different departments or functions as you can. You definitely have to be flexible and willing to take on different responsibilities. Over the course of my career, I’ve been tasked with so many random things (from M&A deals to launching a consumer products line), and all of those experiences have been valuable in setting me up for success as a COO

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

The most important skill is the ability to see the forest for the trees. You can’t get too bogged down in the details or day-to-day; you have to get that done, but you need to see the big picture and be able to make decisions based on that big picture. I also think you need to be able to identify, hire, and develop strong talent. That applies to most jobs, but especially in people-facing teams like Operations.

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

Like many startups, we constantly are achieving milestones or taking on entirely new projects. It’s extremely rewarding (and fun!) to tackle these new challenges and watch as the company and our teams achieve their goals. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

This is sort of lame, but I don’t know that I have one yet, although every new product milestone and contract we sign at Tomorrow.io inspires pride. We are doing some amazing things at Tomorrow and we have so much to look forward to – I am just so excited for the future! 

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

I am on the Associates Board of KIPP SoCal, a nonprofit organization that operates 23 tuition-free, open-enrollment charter public schools in Southern California, primarily serving underprivileged neighborhoods and students. I am very involved in the organization and love working with them – their schools and the work they do is amazing, and they are a great example of operational excellence that I find inspiring. 


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I have two adorable corgis, and I am happiest when playing fetch or hiking with them and my husband. I am also looking forward to more travel after Covid! We’ve traveled a bit, but I’m eager to travel more internationally.

Leigha Kemmett Tomorrow.io

Leigha Kemmett Tomorrow.io

How do you manage stress?
Spending time with my dogs. They are so goofy, it’s impossible not to laugh at them every day. I also do a lot of pilates, which is great for clearing my mind, and I love DIY projects – floral arranging, baking, making jam. My friends and family are usually the recipients of these projects, whether they like it or not.

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?
I only started drinking coffee recently. I probably average 2-3 a week total. But that average keeps increasing!

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

Choosing just one is impossible. I grew up in the suburbs, so all of my favorite Boston places are in the suburbs. I make the drive often down to Stodders Neck in Hingham, MA for walks with my dogs. Sometimes we will follow that with a trip to Duxbury for some amazing chowder at Snug Harbor Fish or the world’s best ice cream at FarFar’s. 

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

I try to read a lot. I recently read Killers of the Flower Moon with a few friends and we loved it. Highly recommend!

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Don’t be stressed if your first job isn’t what you think your ideal future career is. Learn as much as you can, spend a few years adjusting to working life, and then look for something that excites you! Your first few jobs will largely be a way to figure out what you do and don’t like, so enjoy the time and try to really hone in on aspects of your job that you like or dislike.

Leigha Kemmett Tomorrow.io

About the
Company

Tomorrow.io is Helping Countries, Businesses, and Individuals better manage their Climate Security Challenges. 

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