In this Chief of Staff Network member spotlight, you will learn some top CoS learnings from Samantha Vrcic, the CoS at AKOS, and her leadership work through personal life as the Founder of Path Matching.
How did you get into your CoS role at AKOS?
- I taught myself how to code and built a successful app on the iOS store (no longer on the store)
- Took on leading project management processes for 3 startups in AZ
- Applied for a technical project manager and was offered the CoS position.
What are you working on right now?
- This past year I have worked on procedures for our project managers, sales, and hiring teams. This year I am focusing on process implementation, new business, and client relationships.
- AKOS has historically done well with word-of-mouth marketing, but it has been a challenge to make new relationships. Taking charge, I am leading us through building partnerships with VC firms, marketing/PR agencies, and technology platform partners.
- My focus is on meeting 8-10 people each week and being curious about what they are doing in the world and seeing who aligns with AKOS. From there I act as the gatekeeper to the CEO in regards to forming new relationships.
What were some of the key learnings or breakthroughs you had while working as a CoS?
- Being fearless in the face of ambiguity
- As a CoS you are trying to find objective outcomes for subjective problems and embracing that this role is not a binary 1 or 0.
- Figuratively speaking, the CoS role requires you to be an expert sailor. Oftentimes the problems you are solving require sailing into the open sea to see what lies ahead and then sharing it with the team to form an action plan.
What have been the most challenging and rewarding parts of your CoS experience?
- The number of versatile projects that have been handed to me. Many of the times the tech is so new that there is little to no documentation on how to actually create it. Although this goes hand in hand with the reward which for me is figuring out the solution to what initially appears to be unsolvable questions.
- From a young age, I enjoyed solving complex problems even when someone would say it can’t be solved I’d find a way through it.
What’s something that you want to learn? (professional or not!)
- Hang Gliding. Kinda funny because oftentimes as CoS I see that we don’t hesitate to take on challenging problems and just make the jump and with hang gliding, I see a lot of similarities of just going for it.
What are some of your goals in the next 5-10 years?
My goal is to build a bridge between social missions and technology to empower people worldwide. Right now I work on my mission as CoS of AKOS but also in my personal life as the Founder of Path Matching a non-profit.
At AKOS we work with leading nonprofits to build internal tools and applications to help people worldwide. Our partners include:
- Goldie Hawn Foundation
- Yellow - Pharrell Williams
- Keep A Breast Foundation - Early detection breast cancer iOS app
- Imagination Foundation
- School on Wheels
At Path Matching our goal is to empower survivors worldwide through technology. We do this by matching anonymous testimonies of sexual assault and human trafficking survivors through the perpetrator's first and last name.
- On my mission, I realized there was not a SAAM walk in AZ so I created my own and went from an idea to full blown state-wide walk within 3 months.
- On April 16th, I hosted the 1st ever Sexual Assault Awareness Month Walk in PHX, Arizona honoring SAAM (April) which included over 12 leading nonprofits in the sphere providing survivors with resources.
Our partners include:
- Tia Clinic
- ASU - Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions
- AZ Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence
By working as a CoS at a custom software firm it allows me to stay on the cutting edge of new technology and create impactful products for our clients empowering people worldwide.
Thank you Samantha for sharing your experiences and insights for us and the broader Chief of Staff industry!
If you are interested in learning more about the Chief of Staff Network, reach out to David Nebinski at firstname.lastname@example.org! We would love to hear from you!