In this Chief of Staff Network member spotlight, you will learn from Dyna Shamshir, the Chief of Staff at Solv Energy. You will learn about the importance of career breaks, Dyna’s view on the superpowers of new hires, and the value of appreciation.
If you’re interested in Dyna’s insights and would like to speak with her directly, join the Chief of Staff Network today.
What are you doing presently?
I am currently on a career break to recharge and refocus. While on this break, I have been working on topics I care about; what I’ve rediscovered is that I truly care about making others successful.
At my last role, I was referred to the hiring manager and we had in-depth discussions about not only the role, but also the dynamics of the team prior to my start. This helped us both in preparing me to hit the ground running.
What was your biggest learning in your last role?
As a new hire, you have a unique advantage in that you offer a fresh eye. This means you have a genuine chance to assist a team with matters that may not be immediately apparent to them. When a team is stretched, it becomes especially challenging to prioritize among half-defined issues, unknown issues, and existing projects - they will all sound urgent.
As a recent addition to a company, simply understanding that helped me navigate and sort through the chaos to understand where I could help drive the most impact. Furthermore, in a fast-growing company, it helped to quickly get even newer members up to speed with higher fidelity.
What advice would you give to someone looking for a CoS role?
Not all principals know that they need a CoS (or what it is); for those that do, the call for help may not even actually sound like one. Furthermore, CoS roles are highly variable by company stage, sector, and principal.
Practicing humility, active listening, fostering a dialogue around it and building a relationship with the principal can help uncover how you can craft your own CoS role.
What were some of the key learnings or breakthroughs you had while working as a CoS?
Sometimes progress can be just about asking a better question.
Ever had one of those conversations where someone says to you: “you know, that’s actually a really good question … I don’t know the answer.”
Not being afraid to admit when we don’t know is critical - and knowing what we don’t know is invaluable. This adds to the ability to maintain effective communication which is vital for successful collaboration, progressing initiatives, resolving conflicts, and instigating cultural change.
What are you most focused on right now?
Changing gears and getting to my next role with renewed purpose.
Part of this is about consciously adding to my leadership skills and another part is about better understanding how my priorities have evolved.
What have been the most challenging and rewarding parts of your CoS experience?
- Challenging: People can have very different ways of communicating their needs. I think it’s part of the skillset of a CoS to learn to decode them.
- Rewarding: Being appreciated. As a CoS, you influence, but don’t typically have direct reports. Because of this, it’s hard to know how much you’ve affected a particular person or even the entire organization. It’s incredibly rewarding to have coworkers tell you: “You were a good boss" despite not having had direct reports.
What is the oddest task / project you've ever worked on?
Chasing the CFO of a customer company to fulfill their past due payment. This was not fun, especially when he became elusive since he was on a trip to the Maldives or something. But I got it done. Anyone with B2B accounts receivable solutions, I would love to hear from you!
If you could wave a magic wand, with 3 wishes for your role, what would they be?
I'd hold one wish back to get these 2:
- Flexibility in location, or hybrid work with trust in reasonable judgment. I strongly believe that creating connective tissue require in-person meets, and I highly value camaraderie at work. But I have also seen that the pandemic have taught us the many things we took for granted - and what could work better for us and our families.
- Intentional recognition that a nebulous role does not equal less value. Instead, it probably takes more work undertaking what others are not able to see. Many acknowledge that it's a lonely and thankless role. But if we can wave that wand and describe the value that CoSs bring to the table in tangible terms, that helps to manifest ""intentional recognition"" in its use as a powerful tool that goes beyond recognizing a job well done; it’s about acknowledging the significance of someone's contribution."
What’s something that you’re sneaky good at or that people wouldn’t expect about you?
Figuring out and memorizing directions without a GPS. This came in handy during some travel mishaps!
What’s the best professional advice that you’ve ever been given?
“Walk your talk”: leading by example is fundamental to leadership. I was given this advice very early on in my career but I understood even then that it applies to everybody, not just those in positions of authority.