One of the things that excited me about building a business was the opportunity to break away from a larger, more structured organization. The freedom to create an environment without layers of management and hierarchy that often suffocate good ideas and sap employees’ will and joy was hugely exciting.
Initially, there were just a few of us, it was inherently evident what our roles were, and everything seemed to function without a lot of intervention. Our client projects provided the direction, and we focused on doing our best work. Life was good.
But as we grew, our colleagues asked some basic questions: whom do I report to? What’s my career path? The answers necessitated implementing a bit more structure and brought much-needed clarity. Life was good once more.
Then we ran into a new roadblock: how do we scale this business? We were ready to serve clients with an integrated team of editors, designers, video producers, and project managers, but it was clear we had to think differently about how we assemble teams—and the types of people we hire.
We needed someone with an understanding of editorial and creative and who could lead teams and design repeatable processes. And since the path forward would be filled with ambiguity and trial and error, and entrepreneurial spirit was critical.
Where do you find people like that? They don’t just fall out of the sky.
In our case, a little serendipity never hurts.
A good friend proclaimed unsolicited, “I know a rock star from my Groupon days. She’s one of the hardest workers I’ve met, and she’s a real deal writer with marketing chops to boot. I’d work with her again in a heartbeat!”
Carolyn Dorant has proved to be all those things in her short time with the company. Having started at Groupon as a researcher just out of grad school (with a master’s in publishing), she rose through the ranks over the course of eight years, working in both editorial and marketing roles. During her tenure, Groupon went from a fast-growing tech company to an established player. Carolyn took on new roles, sometimes within weeks of assuming her previous position.
In this environment, her natural curiosity and ability to figure out a better way to do things were assets. Along the way, she developed project management skills gained from the typical cat-herding across functions.
And now we’re fortunate that she’s brought her talents to our organization. Carolyn’s official title is strategic communications manager, so she’ll be serving clients in a range of ways. She’s also taken the lead on formalizing our business development and outreach, critical but often-neglected tasks at small companies when the project pipeline becomes a firehose.
Carolyn was born and raised in Chicago, so she brings an authenticity I can’t quite muster as a transplant. And her choice of albums in her bio are hipper than mine; as a former music elitist, that development is particularly painful.
Please join me in welcoming Carolyn to Leff.