We're very excited to put the spotlight on Dionne McCray, Chief of Staff, Engineering at Chime! With deep experience in software QA and program management at companies like Quantcast, Yapstone, and Paypal Dionne recently joined the Chime rocket ship in December 2020 taking on the Chief of Staff role.
More and more, Chiefs of Staff are reporting to executives across departments. Dionne is a great example of the type of background and skill sets needed to excel as a CoS in one of of the top engineering teams in the industry. She's just getting started in this role and we're thrilled to continue following her journey!
Can you tell us about your path to the Chief of Staff role at Chime?
I spent the majority of my career in QA (software quality assurance) after 20 years in QA I decided to try and challenge myself and made a ladder switch to program/project management. I wanted to test myself and strengthen my ability to lead using influence and not a title. Working as a QA professional and leader; planning, strategy and tactics are a necessity; the ability to look at a problem, break it down and organize an effort to solve the problem. These skills helped me to make a decision to make another ladder switch to Chief of Staff.
You work closely with the engineering team at Chime, what kinds of responsibilities do you typically take on?
As the Chief of Staff (CoS) I am charged with the overall health, communication and organizational structure of the Chime technology organization. Creating a communication framework to make sure the technology organization is up to date and a place where my teammates can ask questions. I serve as an advocate for the team, if there are problems or concerns expressed by the team I make sure that the Senior leadership is aware.
Chime has been on a rapid pace of growth the past few years. How do you think your Chief of Staff role will evolve as the company continues to scale?
I cannot predict the future, if I could I would say that as Chime grows the need for systems and processes to ensure that the organization scales to meet growing demands is what I will be focused on. For example, Hiring and recruiting process; Champion Chime engineering culture; supporting remote locations.
What’s your professional goal in the next ~10 years?
I haven't planned that far out!
What’s something that you’re sneaky good at or that people wouldn’t expect about you?
Home repairs. I just bought my first tool box and I am so excited. I do most of the repairs on my home including roof repairs.
You started and run your own company, Iva Jewell as well. How has this experience prepared you for your current CoS role?
Starting and running my business, Iva Jewell, is the perfect backdrop to my ‘day’ job. I am able to try things in my business - experiments, I take what I learned from these experiments and apply them to my day job and vice versa. I have found that since starting my business I have a different appreciation for anyone that has started and is successful running a business. Running my business helped me to decide to change ladders and become the Chief of Staff at Chime.
What’s the best professional advice that you’ve ever been given?
I was once told, ‘I would rather work with someone that’s nice and smart, rather than with someone that is brilliant and mean. That quote reminds me to be kind. Relationships are important and being smart isn't enough to be successful.
What have you learned in the first few months in the role that you would share with another new CoS?
The CoS is a new role, be prepared to explain what your remit will be as the CoS. Creating objectives and key results can help explain the role in simple language. And when people say I’ve never heard of a CoS and what you do, don't take it personally.
What's your CoS Pro Tip?
Learn to handle ambiguity.