Twenty years of experience in both technology startups and larger companies, supporting thousands of employees, overseeing the setup of 450,000+ sq. ft of office space around the world, managing more than $25MM+ in CapEx and $16MM+ in OpEx, witnessing a successful acquisition and an IPO, and carrying many incredible lessons and memories with me along the way — that is me 🙂
I recently joined BeyondHQ as the Head of Operations, and couldn’t be more excited!
I believe that we are at a very interesting inflection point for the future of work. As costs and competition in coastal markets rise, and as talented workforces grow in prominence across the rest of the country, how companies are built and scaled will fundamentally change from the current norm. We are experiencing a seachange. Expansion operations will go from reactive hiring and real estate setup to strategic hiring and unified decision making across the C-Suite. Talent, costs, and location will form a critical trifecta around which all strategy and operational decisions will be based. Distributed colocated teams will be the new default. Cities and towns across America will grow stronger and smarter in being able to attract and retain talent, and present options for companies looking to build their second/third/fourth hubs. Expanding earlier and to multiple locations is on the rise. Distributed workforces are becoming more and more viable, cost effective and successful. The operational planning and workflow required to seamlessly evaluate, expand, and align distributed colocated teams with HQ will create a new category of tools and services.
My journey started as an Office Manager and grew to Director of Workplace/Corporate Real Estate (CRE), so I’ve lived the gamut of company expansion challenges.
I’ve had the privilege of leading several companies through the creation and ongoing operations of amazing office spaces that inspire, support, attract and retain great talent. I’ve helped scale REWS (Real Estate and Workplace Services) for several startups. My proudest success story was taking New Relic (NYSE: NEWR) from 20 to 800 people — from angel startup to global public company. I was employee number 9 at Xoom (acquired by Paypal) and helped secure property and kick off expansion for several offices at Rally Health (NYSE: UNH). In partnership with great brokers and legal partners, I’ve negotiated dozens of leases (including new, expansion, and subleases), leveraging tens of millions in capital expenditures of build-out spend. It has been quite a journey. Above all, I’m devoutly passionate about creating spaces that help companies succeed. We spend ⅓ of our waking lives at work. The office should be a place employees and guests love to go, where they want to collaborate, engage, hunker down, and celebrate wins.
It starts with understanding the DNA of the company — what its mission and values are, its story, culture, and how its offices and services can be a reflection of all of those things.
But that’s just the R&D. The process that is decision-to-launch and beyond is complex, with many (often conflicting) internal decision makers, dozens of vendors to bid, hire and manage, and a surprisingly long timeline. It can be especially daunting for companies that are experiencing rapid growth with little time, experience or resources to dedicate towards the process. There are many parties and tasks that need to be bridged: identifying the right expansion city/ies, sourcing local talent, securing interim office space, negotiating a lease, designing the space to reflect your company’s growing footprint, empowering and aligning employees in the new office — all of which require varied and extensive expertise that is not easily found or developed. How do you know when to expand to a new location? Who drives the “where” and the “why” strategy? Who manages the expansion process? How do you maintain strong cultural ties with HQ? The list of questions goes on.
In my role, I was usually the single point of contact for all office expansion projects, aggregating and funnelling all of the site selections, leasing, design, budgeting, approvals and delivery schedules for several projects at once. Add to that the task of bringing everyone involved to the table and getting them to agree. That’s a lot for one person to juggle, especially if they are going through the process for the very first — or even third — time.
Looking back, I cringe at some of the mistakes I made along the way. There was no blueprint — this was mostly an art. It took years to develop my own tools to decipher the hieroglyphics and bring method to the madness. The biggest lesson I learned is that you need a unified expansion strategy across key stakeholders at the company. This involves getting the CFO and CHRO to the table and establishing a common decision-making framework to drive a “people and places” strategy. Getting a coworking space in a new city is just one step, not a strategy. Hiring a local leader in a new location is just a tactic, not a plan. What will your distributed workforce look like in 6 months? And in 2 years? Hasty hiring has a steep price; breaking a lease can cripple your budget; and poorly managing remote teams risks painful attrition. In other words, short-term choices have long-term impact. These are the challenges and pitfalls we will help our customers plan for at BeyondHQ. We aim to bring structure and scale to your growth.
These are early days; our vision is ambitious, our approach comprehensive, and our obsession to drive workforce + workspace growth for our customers.
I grew up in Ohio, went to school in Missouri, and built my career in California. I’m excited and honored to work with BeyondHQ to bridge the country through economic opportunities, bringing the “magic” of Silicon Valley panache beyond. There is so much to be done and to share. Stay tuned!
Are you starting to expand? Need help finding talent in more cost-effective tech hubs across the country? Ready to graduate from coworking to your own office? Want to know how best to project talent and space needs for a distributed team? We would love to help! Please send us a note here, or catch us on LinkedIn and Twitter.