Employee Spotlight: Tara Larson, VP RevOps

employee-spotlight-tara-larson-vp-revopsFor International Women’s Day, we’d like to share with you just one (there are many) of the amazing women who make Process Street the great place that it is!

There’s no denying that Process Street is made up of some interesting individuals. To celebrate that, we’re taking the opportunity to highlight some of the folks who keep all those gears spinning.

I’ve had a chance to poke around in engineering and design, and while I only kinda/sorta/not really know what goes on over there, I have absolutely no clue what RevOps even is. Sorry, y’all. I know who you are just, y’know, not what it is you actually do. I’m sure it’s very important work and you’re very good at it, though.

So, I was considering that and I had this thought: I bet Tara isn’t doing anything right now and she ought to know about it, right? I mean, she is in charge of it so. I hope so. Plus I can probably turn it into a post which means I’ll have successfully coerced someone else into doing my work for me tapped into the great breadth of talent and wisdom among my colleagues.

My editor is always telling me to get out more. Something about people and interacting and health benefits. I dunno. He’s obsessed with capybaras so who knows what’s up with that guy.

Back to Tara, which is why we’re all actually here. From a humble start studying sociology and neurobiology at Harvard, she also happened to work internationally in business, academia, and education (not the same thing; academia is meaner). Oh, and she’s also a certified ski instructor.

Okay. TBH, RevOps is the last thing I have questions about.

Q: Basic question: What drives you at work?

I’m fascinated by people! I love learning how people behave and why, both from an individual perspective and scientific level. This is what led me to study at Harvard, where I learned from incredible professors and worked in places like China and Jordan, as well as the U.S.

In my career, this translates into my obsession with building customer-first companies and building strong internal teams where individuals can do their best work.

Q: And outside work?

I love getting outdoors and pushing my physical limits.

I’m a retired rower (I was on the D1 Radcliffe Varsity Crew team for four years at Harvard – Go Rad!), but now I throw myself into sports that help me meet new people and see new places.

I’m passionate about skiing, hiking, and biking in the Bay Area, Tahoe, and have traveled all over the world pursuing new adventures.

Recently, I’m diving into mountain biking and ski mountaineering in the Eastern Sierras. I also dream of skiing on every continent. Including Antarctica!

employee spotlight tara larson rowing
From the archives – here are a couple throwback photos from my rowing days.
employee spotlight tara larson rocky mountains
A few outdoor shots from biking Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, hiking the Canadian Rockies, and playing on the beaches in San Francisco with Addie our labradoodle.

Q: Really? Antarctica? You know it’s super cold there, right?

That makes the skiing better!

Q: Well, you’re the expert but just saying. Antarctica is cold. What’s been your favorite adventure so far?

I think the two most interesting places were a month-long trekking trip in Nepal in 2011 and backcountry skiing the Haute Route in 2017 from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland.

Walking across the Himalayas in Nepal without road access and certainly no wifi felt like stepping into a different time – but one that still had everything we needed. The high-altitude hiking was definitely challenging, but what I took away were the interactions. The deeper conversations with other hikers or the power of a kind smile or gesture from someone who spoke a different language.

The Haute Route also transported me to a different world up in the mountains, but from another angle. It was more exciting because it pushed my technical mountaineering skills at the time. I had to navigate whiteout conditions, avoid glacier crevasses, and overcome mild altitude sickness to succeed.

employee spotlight tara larson skiing
A few hiking and skiing photos, including the full ski mountaineering kit for the Haute Route.

Q: Three words: How would your friends describe you?

One of my long-term friends described me as the most insightful, thoughtful, and adventurous person she knows.

We’ve known each other for 15 years in a variety of professional and personal roles. I think she is one of the most insightful, thoughtful, and adventurous humans who is going to change our world – she’s building a better, more secure, and private future with a few new things in Crypto!

I just hope I can live up to her beliefs.

Q: What’s something most people wouldn’t know about you?

I mentioned it earlier, but I really love skiing and winter! I completed my AIARE 1 for backcountry skiing and am a PSIA level 1 certified ski instructor. One day I hope to own a backcountry ski hut to help more people access what I love.

When I lived in Boston and was working for HubSpot, I became a part-time ski instructor on weekends and holidays. At first, I taught children’s programs where I was met with challenges like code yellows (I’ll let you imagine what that might be when you take a group of 4-year olds and their small bladders outdoors all day).

Later I pursued additional training and certifications to work my way up to private lessons for all ages. That experience was incredible. I was able to share a passion and skill of mine with people from all backgrounds.

I worked with young boys and girls to build up their strength and confidence while also navigating the completely different challenges of adults who were mostly men and also mostly C-Suite execs skiing for the first time. Let’s just say each new lesson was filled with surprises.

Through ski instruction, I learned the importance of trust in any professional relationship, the power of sharing your passions, and that the customer actually is always right.

And I’ve been able to translate all of these lessons into the tech world!

employee spotlight tara larson tahoe
Backcountry skiing in Tahoe and ski instructing at Stowe Mountain Resort, VT.

Q: I have many questions about that but I need to get a few Process Street-related questions in before we run out of time. So the really obvious question then: Why Process Street?
I chose Process Street for that combination of people, product, and opportunity – in that exact order.

The people at Process Street are the best of the best – smart, humble, hard-working, passionate, creative, and well-balanced. Everyone shows up for each other, but also has unique outlets outside of work that are fun to share and talk about! Some days it’s spear fishing and ultra marathon stories and other days it’s tips for creating incredible homemade meals. There’s never a dull moment.

Our customers are using Process Street to build their businesses and invest in their employee experience. Whether they’re using us for new hire onboarding or to automate complex business workflows, I love that we are a part of their building and growing story.

As a startup, Process Street has a big opportunity ahead and there’s always something new happening. We all perform multiple roles, we’re constantly trying new things, and we learn something every day. I’m excited about what we’re building for our customers and the future impact we’ll have.

employee spotlight tara larson process crew
It was amazing to meet part of the Process Street team recently in my current city of San Francisco.

Q: Okay. Who are you, CV version?

I lead Process Street’s RevOps team and am lucky to work with a brilliant team of forward-thinking builders, problem-solvers, and customer-focused operators!

Before Process Street and RevOps, I worked for a decade at high-growth startups on all sorts of teams and projects. Most recently, I was at Intercom for 3.5 years, launching GTM tech partnerships and building the self-serve business with initiatives like Intercom’s Startup Program. Before that, I led product, program development, and ops at an EdTech startup called Fullbridge and had sales and product roles at HubSpot pre-IPO.

Q: And RevOps is…? Y’know, for the readers. Also, can you share a bit about what you’ve done in the past?

RevOps drives growth by partnering with the Process Street GTM teams to increase alignment, operational efficiency, and accountability. We focus on maximizing revenue impact with projects that unify our internal teams, data, systems, and the entire customer experience.

I’ve had a lot of different roles in my career but I love RevOps because it solves many of the challenges that I experienced in my past roles by breaking down the silos between teams and aligning every function towards business impact. We also get to help both internal teams and our customers, which is a unique and rewarding role to play.

Q: Thanks for that, on behalf of our readers.

Of course. Any time.

Q: What’s been your favorite project so far?

Can I pick two?

Building our in-house data team and hiring a talented internal leader. One of my favorite aspects about working in tech is the ability to access data in order to make smart, impactful decisions for our customers and our internal teams.

Using data to make and communicate about decisions increases transparency, builds confidence in our strategy, and leads to stronger results. It’s a win-win-win.

The second was a use case classification project we completed at the end of last year. Digging into how our customers are using our platform and finding value surfaced many incredible stories and allowed us to launch a more focused strategy for 2022. It’s exciting!

Q: Which of our 5 company values resonates the most with you?

Act like an owner.

I love this one because it gives permission and trust for each person to be creative and do their best work.

You can’t know what ideas someone is capable of creating until you give them the freedom to create. So much of what we do has come from someone in the company asking, What if we did…? Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t, but you learn something either way.

When people have ownership over their own role – or even one project or a single task – it creates a different sense of investment in the outcome. They’re more engaged with their work and their colleagues, and feel their successes more personally. It makes the work experience more satisfying for everyone involved.

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Lead with empathy.

Businesses are only as good as the people they grow, so always take time to relate and invest in your coworkers and team.

This is true more than ever with the current state of global health and global affairs.

Q: Tech has a reputation for being a little hegemonic, although there are a growing number of industry leaders like Reshma Saujani trying to change that. You’ve obviously built a strong career for yourself; what advice would you give to someone following in your footsteps?

I’ve always looked up to very confident, independent women and I emulate – or try to at least – the qualities I see in them.

Throughout my life, female leaders, teachers, coaches, and bosses have played a huge role in my trajectory.

But my story starts before my professional career where my mother set an incredible example and showed me that I could do anything I set my mind to and treated me as an equal to my amazing brothers.

I’ve taken that mindset into the workforce and sought out leaders – male and female – who share that belief. It really does make all the difference.

While I’m often working with all men, I’ve also been lucky to have four incredible female managers and worked for two female CEOs. There is something special and motivating about seeing people who look like you in positions of power and influence. Those women taught me so much, including that first I must believe in myself more than anyone else.

After that, every day is an opportunity to prove yourself and to earn a seat at the table. Because of them I learned the power of commitment, showing up, and making things happen.

employee spotlight tara larson panels
Left: hosting a fireside chat at Intercom with CEO Karen Peacock and former SVP LB Harvey. Right: Figma CCO Amanda Kleha speaks on a panel with me and Matt Hodges of Atlassian.

Q: Final thing: Who do you admire?

Currently, I am also inspired by women who are unapologetically bold, unique, and have their own vision for something better that they’re sharing with the world.

Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post and Thrive Global) and Bozoma “Boz” Saint John (Netflix, Uber, Endeavor, and Apple) are two I closely follow at the moment.

Arianna is outspoken about her views and is leading a revolution to make tech and modern careers more sustainable.

Boz is creating space for leaders to be themselves, challenging the status quo, and bringing new energy and creativity wherever she goes. Both of them share the power of finding and using your voice each and every day.

Women like Arianna and Boz have their own vision and they aren’t afraid to follow it. You have to have that – in your professional life but also in your personal life. A lot of people will tell you “no.” A lot will say, “not right now,” or, “not yet,” or even, “ why the hell do you think that’ll work?”

So what?

Whatever anyone else says, you have to believe in your vision. Women, especially, are often encouraged to be quiet, smile more, or wait their turn but that doesn’t put new ideas into the room. And we need new ideas. The tech industry lives and breathes on them. Why shouldn’t they be yours?

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Leks Drakos

Leks Drakos, Ph.D. is a rogue academic with a PhD from the University of Kent (Paris and Canterbury). Research interests include HR, DEIA, contemporary culture, post-apocalyptica, and monster studies. Twitter: @leksikality [he/him]

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