Interview with Leigh-Golding DeSantis, COO of Sparkfund​

Interview with Leigh-Golding DeSantis, COO of Sparkfund

Watch the latest videos from Dylan Green with Leigh-Golding DeSantis, COO of Sparkfund discussing how their culture and work habits are changing.

Part 1 - How technology has helped mobilize the workforce during COVID-19

Part 2 - How COVID-19 is impacting Sparkfund’s hiring strategy

Part 3 - Advice for women who may not feel qualified for a role

Part 4 - How COVID-19 is affecting the culture at Sparkfund

Part 1 Transcript - How technology has helped mobilize the workforce during COVID-19

Leigh: Because we are pretty tech enabled and we have several employees that are already remote workers, and so we’ve had to most of our operations to being able to support those remote folks anyway, and so we were pretty well set up going into this crisis with everybody moving remotely, because we’ve been support those remote workers. So Slack has become, obviously. super critical part of our day. We are focused a lot on making sure that folks are using best practices in Slack to make sure that everybody is up to speed on what is happening. As you move to a remote culture, you’re not having people being able to have hallway conversations and exchange the information in a way that they are used to doing and so it becomes incredibly important that people post updates in the public channels versus direct messaging each other so that everybody that’s working on that project has the most up to date information. We also use Asana. We are onboarding Smartsheet, also, for some of our project management. So, absolutely, there is a focus ever increasingly on utilizing those digital tools to the fullest. 

Part 2 Transcript - How COVID-19 is impacting Sparkfund’s hiring strategy

Leigh: Well before everybody was remote, we certainly wanted folks to come into the office if they were in the later stages of the interview. We’ve been pretty enabled on Zoom mostly for doing a lot of our interviews remotely, for the beginning part of the interview. Unless folks are local, which oftentimes they are not, we’ll do a remote interview with a bunch of our team members and having our team in the office and then having that interviewee on Zoom has worked great. So, we’re going to be able to continue utilize Zoom in that way where we are going to be having interviews. Certainly, as businesses are slowing their activities, we’re going to be slowing our current hiring. But we actually just did put out some offers and we are onboarding people remotely, actually this week. 

Part 3 Transcript - Advice for women who may not feel qualified for a role

Leigh: This is a really personal topic to me, because as I got offered the job at Sparkfund, I had a lot of doubt myself on whether or not I would be able to step into this role, many years ago. And I think after doing a lot of research into the psychology of women versus men and how they can take on challenging positions, you find that women tend to hold a higher bar for themselves, having already done the job or already being able to exhibit those skillsets. I think that that’s not necessary. What I’ve learned is that you can absolutely learn on the job and that’s a key part of any role. As long as you have that skill set that the job requires, you don’t need that exact experience, you don’t need to have done that exact role before. You’re probably qualified. If you’re asking the question, if you’re qualified, and you’re a woman, you’re probably qualified. If you’re a man, you probably wouldn’t be asking yourself that question you would just go ahead and apply. I see this when I interact with college students even, if I’m going in and doing a guest lecture, or something like that. You see the men raise their hand and you see the women don’t. And it’s the bar that we hold for ourselves and I think that that’s incredible because it makes us perform, I think, very well on a job. But I think it can also be inhibiting because it creates this high bar for us to be able to achieve before we feel like we are qualified enough to even put in our application. And that that’s unnecessary. I think we should all approach with a little bit more confidence if we have that underlying skillset, go forward and sell yourself in the interview. You’re probably right. You can probably do it. 

Part 4 Transcript - How COVID-19 is affecting the culture at Sparkfund

Leigh: I think one thing that we’re anticipating seeing more of a focus on a shift to the back-end internal infrastructure work, building the product that we have and making it better. I think often times in the harried day to day, you don’t create enough time to really focus on improving your product, to get your data management up to speed, to developing cool tools that are going to make you move faster and better and stronger. And, that this time, where customer interactions might be a little bit slower, is a great time to focus on that type of stuff in your company. And from a cultural perspective, I anticipate a shift of focusing really on the wins and celebrating those types of developments more so necessarily that the customer wins, which is normally kind of the main focus of everybody’s interaction is when we close customer deals. But I think there’s going to be more space and more time to celebrate some of that other work that’s happening. I think the other change is really highlighting and building on the culture of transparency that we already have. In this time of uncertainty, I think it’s going to be really important for Sparkfund executive team and Sparkfund leadership to be in constant communication with our employees. Everybody, obviously, knows that this is going to be a stressful time for the business, as it is for every business. And so, making sure that there’s really clear focus on what’s important to the business right now, what activities we want to prioritize, keeping our employees up to date on if there are any changes that we need to make. And just keeping everyone in the loop and I think just keeping those lines of communication really open, are going to be an important part of our culture, that we really need to focus on during this time.