Career Path: Ashley Spiess, Sr. Director Operations at Notarize
What do the career path and the day-in-the-life look like for a Sr. Director Operations at Notarize?
We connected with Ashley Spiess to find out!
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Where did you grow up? What did your parents do for work?
I grew up in Northern Virginia. My mom started in the news industry as a producer. She then started her own successful business and became a published author. She now ghostwrites and authors screenplays. All while being a mother of three. My dad too is in the writing business but is also a director, producer and the creative genius behind the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line. But hands down his best work are all the creative videos and projects he does of and for my daughter.
Where did you go to college? What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school?
I went to Mizzou where I studied Journalism & Business. I worked full time while in school so my transition into the workforce was pretty seamless. While in college I worked for various retail companies in shift lead or manager roles. The best gig was Starbucks. College and coffee are an inseparable pair. My first job out of college was for an early stage Education company called K12. I started as a Sales Rep and moved on to manage & scale the team there. It was a great opportunity to cut my teeth in the corporate world but it was also an early stage company with lots of growth and opportunity ahead.
What has attributed to your success thus far and has helped propel you to the position you have now?
I think having the opportunity to be innovative in various roles where my leaders trusted me to take on a problem to solve or a goal to reach has boded me a wealth of experience I couldn’t replace. I’ve had some really impactful leaders both good and bad. The good was the support and teacher I needed while the bad really brought out the spirit and grit in me to tackle my goals and steered me away from the leader I didn’t want to be. So I attribute every leader to my success frankly.
Also the times when I got it wrong. Whether you survive a decision or don’t you learned something. You have the choice to define “failure.”
I’m always focused on learning and growing both personally and how I impact my team. Whether it’s a podcast, quick-read, a book or a thought sharing conversation I try to make time as much as I can for those opportunities. Usually the on-the-go friendly source wins. I truly believe the moment you believe you are perfect is the moment you stop learning.
Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Sr. Director of Operations and Strategy at Notarize?
At Notarize my role holds a lot of versatility. I’m responsible for leading and shaping two of our customer facing teams that bring our product to life. One being our Notary Operations team who conduct electronic notarizations & online real estate closings 24/7 out of Virginia, Texas & Nevada. The other is our Closing Operations team who is our internal engine supporting our product and helping the Real Estate world to go digital.
In addition to owning our customer experience, my focus is to ensure we are constantly driving productive operational rigor, repeatability & leverage. I have to constantly look for ways in which we can strengthen our output and maintain positive customer experiences. Almost every move we make as a company impacts our operations in some way so it’s imperative I not only solve problems but have a strong grasp on how we as an organization need to shape the next phase of our growth and impact. So part of my responsibility also involves strategic planning and analysis both in how the services components of our company will be structured and how we enable them for success through process and product. We’re still in the phase of learning and building in many ways so getting to build metrics, resources and source tools regularly is a fun task. I work closely with multiple cross-functional teams including Product, Engineering, Finance, Customer Success & Sales to keep the Operations org humming.
Any tips for someone considering a career in your field?
To be in Ops you have to enjoy solving problems and collaborative with your approach. You will be tasked with solving a lot of them. Frequently document not only the problem to solve but how you solved it and think broadly of how you can rinse and repeat what you’ve built to positively impact other use cases. It’s important to be both an operator and a visionary in your work. Dream big and be creative. If you have the chance to take on not only how you get there but what the end goal looks like, Go for it. The finish line is that much sweeter. When it comes to data, It’s important to spend time learning what metrics tell the story and what metrics shape the story.
Day in the Life
Coffee, tea, or nothing?
Coffee always. Fun fact I can literally drink a cup of coffee at 9pm at night and still go to bed. Between work and parenting, I think I am fully immune to the effects at this point. Also morning coffee always has to be hot, never iced.
What time do you get into the office?
Depends. I am a mom of a two year old so days I don’t do daycare drop off I am in by 7am. I like to get in, turn on some music and get an early start to the day. Otherwise I’m in by 9am and pull a later day. When I’m traveling to one of my sites I try to see every shift & spend time with my team so my days are scattered when traveling.
What are three things that motivate you in your role?
The tenacity, creativity & buy-in from my team on achieving success
Our customer reviews
- Solving problems and being able to see & share wins through the metrics
What time do you head out of the office?
Between 5pm and 8pm depending on the day.
Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?
Always. I run a 24/7 organization so we never stop. Some nights evening work is less and I do my best to prioritize especially with also being a parent. Running a 24/7 team there are no “office hours.” It’s definitely one of the more challenging parts. But I believe no moment or person is less valuable so I take the responsibility my org and I have in supporting that message seriously.
Any productivity hacks?
I am a big “list” person. When you are responsible for many constantly moving parts it gets overwhelming. Set the list that defines success for the day.
I always have a notebook on hand and write down ideas. People usually gravitate to laptops but it’s proven fact writing notes better retains information.
Build repeatable processes and automated reporting tools. Whether that be a daily dashboard to give you a quick roll up or a spreadsheet where vlookups or formulas can easily translate your data drop.
What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?
Metabase & Slack tied- Running a 24/7 Ops team I need access to things anywhere.
Shazam - I have a music obsession so love to capture new music when I’m out and hear something I like.
Apple Podcasts - My travel companion
What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?
I’m honestly most proud of the work I am doing here at Notarize. I’m getting to trail blaze an astounding product and service to better an archaic industry. Having the opportunity to build an organization from the ground up and see us now across three states executing impeccable experiences with a team who cares deeply about our success… can’t get any better than that.
Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?
- I’m very fortunate to work with such an incredible woman as Liz Graham who is our COO and my leader. I not only aspire to have the impact that she has had in my own career path but I feel very fortunate that I have the support and trust within my own four walls that I can turn to her. I have past co-workers and leaders I have leaned on in the past but I feel very fortunate to have this avenue internally as well at Notarize.
I love the work Jill Rowley is doing in the start-up, tech & investing scene. I follow her regularly on social.
- Simon Sinek & his leadership books. Always a go to.