Today is day two for me at JumpCloud, and I’m happy to be here as our new Chief People Officer. JumpCloud is on an exciting journey of growth — for our customers in terms of the increasing value we deliver to them, for our future as a company, and for our JumpCloudians whose personal and professional development we invest in with intention.
I am also on a journey of growth as I take on this new role. Reflecting back on my career so far, I wasn’t sure if I would ever pursue a CPO role — despite being told many times over the past decade that I was “ready.” So why didn’t I? Imposter syndrome. Essentially, I was unable to give myself credit for my own achievements and instead felt I had 20+ years of “luck.”
Originally, imposter syndrome was a term attributed mainly to high-performing women. However, current studies show that nearly 70% of the population, both men and women, experience this in some way — including many executives.
The good news: it often fuels the fire for high performance. While I could write volumes on my experiences with this topic, I want to shift to what changed for me, why now, and why JumpCloud.
Learning that I’m not the only one that feels this way. After giving a talk on imposter syndrome several years ago to a women’s leadership group, I had many attendees at all levels, including top executives, tell me that they felt the same way. Knowing that I was not alone gave me a sense of comfort and courage. I also learned that leaders who have the courage to be vulnerable are able to build deeper connections and foster “safe harbor” environments for open collaboration and diversity of thought.
Taking many at-bats. Throughout my entire career, I have worked to fill any void or raise my hand for any challenge, big or small, regardless of my experience. I forced myself into situations outside my comfort zone to stretch my abilities at all times. In coaching terms, these are my weekly “practices” or activities that strengthen the skills that are important to me.
Having a great support system. I’ve been extremely fortunate to work for leaders and with teams that let me experiment (and fail). They’ve “had my back.” It’s amazing how much one can do with a support system that encourages innovation, informed risks, and high-speed performance.
Making bold moves or bold requests. On a more personal level, my 93-year-old dad is an amazing man and taught me to simply “go for it,” make moves fearlessly, and make bold requests unapologetically. While you run the risk of hearing a “no,” more often than not it leads to tremendous life experiences, learnings, and opportunities.
In terms of “why now,” I can’t put my finger on one thing. This just felt like a perfect time for a pivot as I helped to wrap up a significant milestone in my prior role. That, combined with the personal reflection that many of us did during COVID-19, looking ahead to an empty nest in about a year, and turning 50 all likely contributed to me being open to new possibilities.
While I wasn’t actively looking for a new role, I accepted several invitations for conversations with recruiters. And the call with Katy Flatau, JumpCloud’s Director of Talent Acquisition, left me wanting to learn more about this incredibly exciting opportunity.
So why JumpCloud?
When considering a potential move, I typically focus on three critical elements: a company with a solid foundation, significant opportunity for growth or transformation, and an environment or culture that supports or fuels that growth.
In terms of a solid foundation and opportunity for growth, no one can argue with JumpCloud’s success to date: the strength of our product, positive feedback from our customer base, quality of our investors, and the massive market opportunity.
So, then it comes down to culture. Culture is simply the combination of behaviors, norms, policies, systems, formal and informal interactions, etc., that are representative of a group. Whether intentional or not, every company has a culture. Often the tone is set from the top and manifests itself in the ways we work, both formally and informally.
While there’s not one type of culture that definitively leads to growth and success, for me personally there are some essential threads that foster innovation, speed, rapid growth, and enjoyment in my work. Many of these were evident during my interview process at JumpCloud, and they have been reinforced over the last several weeks of my preboarding conversations.
High trust. When I first learned that we are a “remote-first” company, it signaled to me a high level of leadership maturity and trust in our people. Another indicator of trust is in the level of transparency I’ve seen so far. In a low-trust environment, information may be confined at the top level of the org. At JumpCloud, information is shared widely and often, trusting that we all use that information to make the best decisions about our own work.
People focused. I heard the drumbeat loud and clear that Rajat and Greg care deeply about making the JumpCloud experience the most impactful in each employee’s career. This was echoed by the Board and across the executive team. Wow! That’s a tall order. These aren’t just words — they (we) mean it. Foundational to this ethos is to ensure that every employee has a great manager — and we have the tools in place for this today, including eNPS and significant L&D investment to support this value.
Collaborative and inclusive. JumpCloud has a thoughtful and thorough interview process — I think I met with nearly 20 people! While that’s a lot, the driver is the desire to make the best decision for the company and to be inclusive in the decision-making process. This demonstrated two things for me. One, we have a CEO who genuinely values diversity of thought and cares about the input of his team for key decisions. And two, the company places high value on the role of HR (and with that, cares about its people).
Clear vision and alignment. I place a high value on having a clear goal or outcome (the “what”) and then allowing individuals to figure out the “how” (meaning no micromanagement). Of course, this comes with varying degrees of support and guidance, but it’s important to let people do what we hired them to do, provided the objectives are clear.
Never resting on past success. There will always be competitive threats, working hard to take our talent and our customers. Keeping a competitive spirit alive with a focus on continuous improvement is key. The JumpCloud values of Think Big, Make Connections, and 1% Better Every Day keep this top of mind for us all.
No company culture is perfect. And as employees, we all have our own personal needs and preferences around culture. Being intentional about that fit is important. I know I’ve found my fit at JumpCloud. This is a place where we work really hard and have the opportunity to gain key career growth experiences — with the support and encouragement of trusting, collaborative, and inclusive colleagues. I’m thrilled to be part of JumpCloud and to take on new challenges as we grow, scale, and evolve.