Lead(H)er Profile - Samantha Sheridan, Head of Talent Acquisition at Cogo Labs banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Samantha Sheridan, Head of Talent Acquisition at Cogo Labs

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the tech industry. In this Q&A, we are featuring Samantha Sheridan, Head of Talent Acquisition at Cogo Labs


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

I grew up in the suburbs of NYC. As a child, I was a nerd. I loved school and reading and writing. Allegedly I would sit in the corner and play word games by myself in Kindergarten while everyone else was playing more fun games. I always loved learning but got more into sports and other activities as I grew up. I’ve always been pretty social too and would rather be around friends than by myself!

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

I was a Sociology major. My first job out of school was selling car insurance on the phone at a startup called Consumer United in Boston– the last thing I ever thought I would do. The insurance industry didn’t end up being for me, but the experience I gained in high volume sales there was invaluable. I was able to take what I learned there into Recruiting and it definitely gave me an advantage.

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

I bounced back and forth between sales and agency recruiting before landing at Wayfair. In my 6.5 years there, I learned so much not only about recruiting but about business in general. I had so many amazing managers there who coached me and gave me opportunities to keep growing. About 2 years into my time there, I was asked to switch teams and build a recruiting process for an engineering team that had been underserved. It was scary, but I was able to work with them to build a process, hire great people, and start managing my own team. This was a turning point for me because I realized that the success I had been having was not a fluke. It was repeatable, and I could work with any set of stakeholders and achieve our goals. I’ve found that those moments that seem the scariest are usually the ones that allow you to grow the most.

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I’m currently leading Talent Acquisition at Cogo Labs, working on building a scalable TA foundation for Cogo and all of our verticals that are incubating now and in the future. I work closely with our leadership team and hiring managers to establish a high and objective talent bar, and make sure that our interview processes are evaluating the right set of skills for each role.

The team is still very small, which means I get exposure to more of the HR and People Ops side of Talent as well. It’s been a great opportunity to become a more well-rounded talent leader.

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

To be honest, I didn’t have a northstar for where I’d be professionally until fairly recently. I knew I loved recruiting early on and that I’d most likely spend my career in the talent space, but there was never one job I was gunning for. Along the way, I started to get more involved in talent strategy and realized how much I loved building teams- both my own and those that I was recruiting for. That’s what I want to continue to do, regardless of what the title is.

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?

Learn as much as you can from the people around you who do their job in a way that you admire, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or admit you don’t know something. Focus on delivering results above all else. Once people see that you can do the things you say you can, it’s easier to influence, build trust, and get more accomplished alongside them. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and do any job required to get your team to their end goal. The most respected and effective leaders are the ones who don’t think any job is below them and who are willing to do whatever the team needs.

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

Communication, empathy, critical thinking and hustle. In recruiting, you’re responsible for delivering results for human beings on both sides of the equation- for candidates and hiring managers. When people are involved, overcommunication is key. I never want a candidate or a hiring manager to have any doubt about where things stand or what next steps are. Empathy allows you to really understand where people are coming from and advocate for them effectively. In this ever changing, fast moving market, sharp critical thinking skills allow you to keep your end goal in mind and make quick, data-driven decisions along the way to help you get there. 

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

The most interesting and rewarding part of my work is building the absolute best team possible for Cogo and managing/mentoring my own team. I love developing and coaching recruiters and working with them to help them achieve their career goals. The most challenging thing about my work and TA in general is also one of the things that makes it the most rewarding- you are dealing with people. People have different and changing needs along the way and not everyone is motivated by the same thing. It’s never black and white, so you need to constantly communicate and make sure you’re on the same page with both candidates and hiring managers.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Seeing both the engineers that I’ve hired and the recruiters I’ve managed continue to be successful and grow in their careers. A lot of the recruiters that I managed who came in at entry level are now senior managers, running teams of their own. Same goes for engineers. It’s really awesome to feel like I might have played a role in helping them accomplish that.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love getting outside as much as possible and hiking with my dog Charlie! It’s not all active though, I love a good netflix binge just as much.

Samantha Sheridan Cogo Labs

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

Usually 2-- 1 on my way into the office and 1 around the 3 pm slump! 

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

It’s ok if you still don’t know “what you want to be when you grow up.” Take opportunities as they come and you’ll be surprised when you end up right where you are supposed to be. The road can be windy but every experience you have is one that you can learn from and that can make you better at whatever job you have next.

About the
Company

Located in the heart of the Kendall Square Innovation District, Cogo Labs has been successfully growing and launching startups for over a decade.

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