31 min read

Episode 6: The future of operations

There's more opportunity than ever to curate a great career in operations.
Episode 6: The future of operations

I probably don't need to tell you that adding a great operations pro to your team can be a game changer. You're an ops person, after all. You are the game changer.

Early-stage startups need strong generalists who can think creatively, plug holes, and get shit done. And, at the same time, new technology has created the need for ops specialists across fields like marketing and design to scale more established tech companies.

There's more opportunity in operations than ever. But there's also a lot going on!

What does the future of operations look like? How should an ops pro be thinking about building their career? What are the most important skills to develop if you want to succeed in a COO or VP role?

I've invited not one but two experts to answer all of these questions and more in the latest episode of the Opsy podcast.

About Our Guests

Our guests are Dianna Moore and Lauren Walker-Reader, two senior operations leaders behind Runner, a startup connecting top ops talent with inclusive startups.

Dianna and Lauren both left long tenures in aerospace to join Runner so I'm excited to dive into their careers, the trends their seeing in the industry, and where they think the operations field is going.

About this Episode

In this episode, we chat about:

  • How Dianna and Lauren think about the scope of their COO & VP roles
  • What made them join a startup after spending most of their careers in aerospace—and who poached who! 👀
  • How to grow your career in operations by building the right "toolbox"
  • The value of having a "partner in shine"
  • How fractional time work can benefit both the company and the ops pro

... and so much more!

Listen Now

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Don't forget to join the Opsy community!
If you are an operations pro working in tech, or just want to learn more about operations, we'd love to meet you. Join our community.

Show Notes

Stay in Touch



Caro Griffin 0:28
Today's episode is a very special one because we have not one but two great guests sharing their insights with us today.

Dianna Moore and Lauren Walker-Reader are both senior operations leaders at Runner, a new startup connecting outstanding operational talent with inclusive companies. Pretty on-brand for Opsy, right?

Dianna and Lauren both have loads of diverse experience that they're bringing into their roles as COO and Vice President, respectively.

We're going to dig into their careers, what they learned along the way, what it's been like to transition from large companies to an early stage startup, and all the exciting stuff Runner has in store for us operations pros. Let's jump right in!

Caro 1:05
So I'd love to start off just by thanking y'all so much for joining me today. I'm really excited for this conversation, Lauren and Dianna, and to hear more about your careers and also about the awesome work that you're doing at Runner.

Dianna Moore 1:15
Absolutely, glad to be here Caro.

Lauren Walker-Reader 1:17
Yeah, thank you.

Caro 1:19
Yeah so let's just start off with your own careers and backgrounds. I'd love to hear what drew you into operations so, maybe, Dianna, you can kick us off?

Dianna 1:27
The simple answer is that operations is truly where all the magic happens... maybe not all the magic but a lot of it. [Laughs]

Caro 1:33
All of it!

Lauren 1:34
I agree.

Dianna 1:36
I think we're all here a little biased. But, you know, when you really think about where the rubber meets the road, really. It is where the product or service, whatever it is that you're selling... it's where it gets made, it is a systematic approach to achieving the business objective. And, for me, specifically I actually didn't start my career in operations. In undergrad, I got an accounting degree because that was, you know, a good job. It was a sensible job. It makes logical sense.

One of the things I don't know that I've shared sort of broadly but [am] super proud of, is that I was a young mom. And so I had my son my first year of college and I was going to get a degree in criminal justice first but then, when I looked at the pay scales, that no longer made sense. Accounting was something that I thought I could make a decent living at to be able to take care of my son with an undergrad degree so it started there.

The cool thing is that when you have an accounting degree, people sort of think you're smart and think, well, if you can do that, you can do this other thing and so that really took me to a place where I've done lots of different things. I had a really long career—almost 25 years—in aerospace and have done financial planning, accounting, or, very early on, risk management, program management at a couple different levels, both technical and also leadership program management. So the common theme in my career is that I really love solving complex business challenges. That really lights me up. Bring me something [where] the answer is not clear, truly. It's being able to take this systematic approach... and, one of the things that I really believe in very strongly, is that success is not happenstance. It is a well-executed system.

When you think about operations, it is a systematic approach. I think that applies to a lot of areas in life and I know in saying systems it sounds like it takes the humanness out of it but it doesn't because I apply that to anything—the system of getting up and meditating or exercising, or making sure that I'm reaching out to my friends. I would say that all of that is what brought me to operations those 25 years. All that experience came and I'm getting to apply that Runner and really excited about that.

Caro 4:00
Spoken like a true ops person. I'm the same way—I take that same operational approach to everything in my life, and sometimes, you know, you have people outside of work in your life who are like... [Sighs] "You're such an ops person." And you're like, "Just let me have my spreadsheet. Let me have my process, my checklist... whatever the systems are that help you accomplish your goals.

So, Lauren, I would love to hear your story.

Lauren 4:22
Yeah, absolutely. So, different from Dianna, I actually kind of started my career in operations. I've pretty much spent 15 years in the space. One of my first jobs was as an Executive Assistant. It was really working for me because I was also working on my undergraduate degree so the job was kind of low-key but it also helped with content for my coursework in organizational psychology. I kind of got to see a lot of the crazy stuff that kind of goes on behind the scenes within a business, so it was really helpful and eye-opening. Then I just found myself getting put into different positions and just kind of moving my way up.

I've enjoyed this space. I didn't think that I would be here for this long. I didn't expect 15 years in operations and I also didn't expect 15 years at the same company but, through my diverse experience and my coursework, I've learned a great deal about my own strengths, and many of those play really well in the operation space.

I've enjoyed the variety of work, the level of influence that I've had, and just being a trusted advisor to some of the top leaders in the industry. I honestly don't know where I would go from here. I mean, kind of like you guys are both saying, you know, once you're in operations you kind of take that everywhere you go. My husband isn't the biggest fan [laughs]... but we get things done. We get things done.

Caro 5:37
[Laughs] Again, spoken like a true ops person. "But we get things done!" That's what matters so we're good.

Dianna 5:40
I just want to say this... Lauren and I, we both have this systematic approach. Hers... looks a lot more beautiful. I mean, our backgrounds that we have—

Lauren 5:50
It doesn't matter how you get there! [Laughs]

Caro 5:55
I have to agree with Lauren on that one, Dianna. It doesn't matter how you get there! You just get there, you know?

Dianna 6:00
Mine looks a little bit like sort of mad science. Hers is like a beautiful orchestra and, together, we make some great things happen.

Caro 6:10
Yeah, I love that. Sounds like a great ops duo... I was going to say partner in crime... Partner in ops, I guess?

Dianna 6:15
I love to say, "partner in shine."

Caro 6:20
Ooh, I love that! Okay, yeah, we're definitely going to use that.

Lauren, you touched on this already, that you spent 15 years in Aerospace. In my preparation for this conversation, I noticed that you both previously worked in aerospace and, so, I'm guessing you two knew each other. I wanted to ask, did you work together before? How did you both end up at Runner? Who poached who?

Dianna 6:38
Well, that would definitely be me. I poached Lauren, for sure. I started at Runner well... before I really knew what it was, just as a consultant, helping out with some things. I started, what I now know was 14 days into the beginning of the journey. I got in here and [started] really just understanding what Runner is about and just the amazing mission of offering inclusive operations talent to inclusive companies.

So, when we really started to build a team, I reached out to Lauren and just shared what I was up to. I sort of sent her the website and said, "Please check this out," in a casual way, knowing that I would definitely work on her to get her to—

Lauren 7:30
So that's what was happening? Okay, okay.

Dianna 7:33
For sure.

Lauren has just been such an incredible partner, thought leader, and all of that—the credit for that relationship truly goes to her. We worked in the same work group, didn't work a ton together directly. We supported the same leader in various ways and, what would happen is, when I would sort of have these large-scale milestones come up, where there was a lot of... I'll say, "on the line." Lauren would reach out and ask, "Do you need any help?" To which I would normally say, "No I think I'm okay." So then she would then go behind the scenes and provide solutions to me that I didn't even know that I needed and then it's like... "Oh my gosh. I couldn't have done this without these solutions."

When I decided to come on full-time, Lauren was absolutely the first person that I thought of. So I'd say the rest is history but it would be interesting to hear Laurens perspective on how that all went down.

Lauren 8:35
Should have known... So Dianna and I worked together for six years, I think, before joining Runner. When she came to me, it was casual. She was kind of like, "Yeah, I'm doing this..." It was kind of real secretive, like, "I'm kind of working on this thing. I've been doing some stuff. I want to share a little bit with you..." But she kept a lot of it to herself.

When she did eventually just put it out there, I was not on board. [Laughs]

Caro 8:57
[Laughs] Oh, I love this.

Lauren 9:00
I was not on bored. I was looking, don't get me wrong. I was definitely in the space where I was ready... but I was like, "A startup? What?" I've owned my own business. I've done this, right? I'm like, "This is going to be crazy, right?" So, I wasn't generally on board... but, you know, I really sat back and thought about it. Because I was looking, right? And, so, what I knew to be true was who Dianna was. Who she is.

I've known her for six years and we've done so many great things together. Dianna is authentic. She really loves to see everybody win. As she calls it, right? "Partner in shine." She has a commitment to excellence and and just seeing the work that she has done in the time that we shared together in aerospace... She's really helped so many people with their career. She's helped underrepresented people of color become amazing thought leaders. And I know Dianna is a selfless empowering leader. So, really, it wasn't that hard of a decision. And, today, I'd say I'm honored to be on this journey with Dianna. Thank you, thank you.

Dianna 10:00
Aw, Lauren. So we're going to have a little bit of a love fest. I have to say... I tell Lauren, like, nowhere in my life will I go without her at this point. So, I don't know what that's going to look like but...

Lauren 10:10
You said that before Runner but I never knew what you meant.

Dianna 10:12
[Laughs] Now you know!

Caro 10:14
Dianna has been plotting this for a long time. [Laughs] She's just now letting you into her master plan... so you can conduct the symphony, I think, as she said earlier...

Dianna 10:24
Oh my goodness, yeah...

Lauren 10:25
I'm happy to be here with you.

Dianna 10:26
Well, I just want to say this too... When Lauren decided she was ready for a change.... I had a little insight. We talk and share different things and Lauren had offers from some of the biggest companies, the most respected companies, and she chose to come to Runner. It really speaks to, you know, the leadership, Arlan's leadership. It speaks to the mission, and, really, that there's a huge opportunity here to empower people in a way that they didn't even know was possible. And also to create legacy. And so, yeah, that's that's what we're here to do.

Caro 11:00
I love that. I know so many people in ops who, have their like Opsy besties, their partners in shine, as we're calling it... and I feel the same way. I have my right-hand that I always threaten... I'm like, "Someone start a clock! As soon as I leave, I'm bringing you with me." Within the next year, I gotta find gotta find a role with you. Because I don't want to do this without you, right? This is so much more fun when you have your Opsy people at your side.

And, Lauren, you gave me the perfect segue to ask. You were both in aerospace for for a while. You had long 10 tenures of 15 and almost 25 years, respectively, and, so, you know, Lauren, you started to talk about this. It may be a little scarier, it's definitely a different change of pace, right? To move to a startup. I'm interested to hear more about what attracted you and prompted the change, aside from Dianna's great leadership.

Or, so, maybe we should start with you, Dianna. What prompted you to make that change?

Dianna 11:43
We'll, it's interesting. So, there's a post that I put on LinkedIn when I announced that I was coming. Which is that... I have been intentional, wanting to be, and wanting to really step up and support people and causes that I believe in.

I had a career coach before I resigned from my previous employer that was talking to me about, you know, "What's next for you? When are you going to make a change?" I had been talking to this person about that for some time and I just said, you know, in my life, big decisions happen with ease and grace. And, when the time is right, and when the right opportunity comes, it's be a non-decision. And that's exactly how it happened.I need to make one of those, you know, how it started and how it's going [posts].

How it started was a September 6th post from Arlan on Instagram. Come to find out, she's even bigger on Twitter, right? Twitter is- I'm a whole- It's kind of embarrassing to say, I know we're in a tech space, but I'm sort of a new Twitter [person], actually.

Caro 12:47
Oh, I think a lot of people listening would definitely relate to that. I'm always trying to get my Opsy people on Twitter. We're slow to slow to make it to Twitter, I think. So, you're not alone there, for sure.

Dianna 12:56
It's just such a limited amount of characters who say what you need to say, you know?

Caro 13:00
[Laughs] See, and I remember, back in the day.... it was 120. You have 240 now, Dianna! You have a whole novel!

Dianna 13:06
Oh, wow. Okay, alright, I'll remember that.

But it all started with this Instagram post. I answered the call and was surprised when I even heard from her because, you can imagine, with Arlan, how many people that attracted. We had our interview and then just started sort of slowly, a day here, a day there. And then it started picking up.

When I really understood, after, you know, I read her book, started really following her in different places and reading articles online...This is incredible. And, in fact, in our first conversation together, at the end, just being fully authentic myself, I said, "Have you heard the song Underdog by Alicia Keys?"

If you haven't heard the song, I strongly recommend listening to it. It goes, this goes out to the underdogs, the hustlers, the mothers waiting for a check to come... To me, when I think about the work that Arlan's doing and what she's done, you know, sort of curating her own life, I would say... It was like, all of that, and I can come in and take all this experience that I've had.

I'll say, I've had some of [what] I really believe is some of the best business training in the industry, and being able to bring that to her mission. I just know... I mean, very soon, this company will make impacts in peoples' lives that don't know who she is. Right now, we're still in our network effect but very soon.

And, so, for me, [this is] a long way of saying it wasn't really... Once I got into it, it was just an obvious choice. Absolutely. It was what I said to my career coach, it would be a non-decision. So, here we are.

Caro 14:42
I love that. I mean, you literally gave me goosebumps when you were talking about it because I... In talking about Arlan's journey and, you know, what's she's building. Yeah, I feel very similarly. Sometimes you just watch her and you're like, oh yeah. You feel part of something, right?

I remember, when I first heard about Runner—through Arlan's Twitter account, because I am a Twitter person–I think I had started filling out the form to be considered to be a Runner before I even like.... Normally, you know, I'm an ops person. I do the research. I want to read every page on the website. I want to look on Twitter... I think I was already done filling out the form before I even did any other research because I was like, "I'll come back to that. I know I want to be a part of this, like, get my name in there."

So, yeah, Lauren, what's it been like to make that change and step back into a startup?

Lauren 15:22
I took the ops approach. [Laughs] You know, I was definitely ready, right? And, for so many reasons. I didn't exactly know what I wanted to do, what my move was going to be. There were some things I knew for certain though. And one was that I really wanted to curate my own career.

I was ready for that next level of leadership and I had a lot of offers coming in, as Dianna said, but they just weren't... They weren't the right ones. I was looking for work that I was going to be proud of. Things I would want to tell my kids about. And I think, most importantly, for me at that time, I was really looking for a community. Where they were people that look like me. Where people that look like me are celebrated and where it was just the norm, right? So, when Dianna started calling me, she told me—

Dianna 16:09
It was than once. [Laughs]

Lauren 16:10
Yeah, yeah, it was. [Laughs]

Caro 16:12
She had an ops plan of attack. [Laughs]

Lauren 16:15
I had no idea! She was really trying. I didn't even know.

Caro 16:18
So she was really subtle. Good to know, good to know...

Dianna 16:21 
I know, Lauren.

Caro 16:24
You knew it was going to work.

Dianna 16:25
I hoped, yeah.

Lauren 16:27
Honestly, at first, I was like, "What is she talking about?" [Laughs]

You know, if you know Dianna, she's full of ideas. Like, she is that person that always has some new shiny object that she wants to bring you in. She's always connecting you to people.

And, to this day, I have this massive list of all the people I'm supposed to call, all the books I'm supposed to read, all the podcasts I'm supposed to listen to, you know, all thanks to Dianna. And, so, I took my ops approach. I started to do some research. I definitely didn't consider a startup. I had no idea who Arlan was. I didn't follow her. I didn't know her story.

So I did the research and I learned about Arlan, I read her book. And I was really just sold on the idea of building a diverse company that was going to change the lives of so many underrepresented people of color.

The reason I knew I made the right choice was when I joined my very first Zoom call at Runner. It was full of unique and dynamic women of color. It was something I had never experienced before.

So, I'm really glad I'm here. I'm glad I took my operational process and did all my due diligence. I read every page on the website, as you mentioned. And I'm really glad to be here.

Caro 17:39
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I remember you did short interviews with people who had applied to be Runners and I remember getting on that call and feeling like... I mean, even as a white woman, being in that call like, "Oh my god. There are so many badass women of color on this call." And the energy!

It was just so... I think I hung up on that call and I went to knock on my roommate's door and I was like, "I just had like the best not-phone phone interview ever." Everyone was really friendly and welcoming and I think sometimes in a, you know... interviews can be awkward. No one really knows the tone, different people have different styles, but it just really felt like it was such a great group of people. Watching the team grow even from the sidelines and, you know, in the monthly calls and on Arlan's Twitter and things like that. It's been really cool to see the team grow and, even from afar, it's really obvious that you're building something special. So, yeah, great to hear more about it here today.

Shifting gears a little bit, Dianna, you spoke a little bit earlier [about how] within your almost 25 years in aerospace, you held a number of different roles across finance and compliance and risk assessment. How do you think those roles prepared you for the COO role at Runner?

Dianna 18:40
It's really the culmination of all of those things that have prepared [me]. When you're in operations, you have to have a lot of tools in your tool kit.

I'll just share this... when I think about career decisions, and how to say yes to a decision, or how to decide what's next I think about... I'm going expose my country roots. I came from a farm in Oregon...

Caro 19:07
Farm in Tennessee, right here, so let's go.

Dianna 19:09
Okay, so I see you. I see you.

You know, my dad raised me as his son until he got a son of his own, and then I was still a part of the boy group. But, you know, I used to work on my dad's cars with him. So there would be this big toolbox and all these things in it. My dad would show me, when we were working on the car, the different tools, and what they were used for. And I think about that as a professional tool kit.

When I think about my career, in the 25 years, I believe I've had 11 different careers in that. That's part of why, for me, I stayed in aerospace and, specifically, you know the business that I was in. It allowed me to move. You know, literally, I could make a career change and just not change the name that was on my paycheck. But I could do very different things and so I did that 11 different times. And each move was very strategic in, "Okay, what tool do I need? Or is there a tool that needs to be sharpened?"

So, when I think about Runner and, specifically, ops, all of those tools are being put to use here. And, so, again, operations to me is just a place for creativity, it's a place for innovation, it's a place to be able to solve those complex challenges. You really can create anything that you want to create here and so, again, it just completely made sense for me.

Caro 20:38
Yeah, absolutely. I love the toolbox analogy. I use a similar one a lot because I think, especially when it comes to you know operations leadership, the more tools you have, the better you can be at solving problems. And that's what it is at the end of the day, right? You can solve a problem with the right tool, not just the tool that you know how to use.

Dianna 20:53
Absolutely, yeah. I should clarify as, you know, I'm the person who just got on Twitter...

Caro 21:02
I can't wait to see where you're going with this. [Laughs]

Lauren 21:04
[Laughs] We use some tools!

Dianna 21:05
Well, let me just say, for me, when I'm talking about tools, I'm thinking about judgment, critical thinking, ways to approach a challenge... Luckily, I have a great team that knows about the actual, "Oh we can use you know.." [They can] pick something, whether it's HubSpot or it's Slack or its Notion. There's actually a technology that does that thing... So, that's the cool thing, again, about having a diverse team with different skill sets. But, for myself, it is the creativity, the judgment, the professional judgment. Really thinking about the business objective and the culture of the team as being the North Star and everything else aligns.

Caro 21:42
Absolutely. That's a great North Star. And, also, just goes to show that tools are so many different things. Sometimes it's, like, literally a tool, like a piece of software tool and, sometimes it's a skill or just, like, you know, a knowledge that... something I always talk about with client's is like, you know, I have an HR certification but I also used to be a developer so I really like no-code tools. Sometimes the problem needs to be solved with a policy, sometimes it needs to be solved with a new process. And, you know, when you have a team that has those different experiences and those different skills or knowledge, you can really find the best solution possible. Which is really what we're after at the end of the day, right?

It makes sense that a start-up with a mission like Runner would have a team stacked with great operations talent. But, at a lot of startups, the job descriptions in ops leadership can get pretty blurry. How do you think about the difference between the COO role and the VP of Ops role? I'd love to have you kick us off, Lauren.

Lauren 22:29
So the statement of work between Vice President of Operations and the COO roles are very similar and often used interchangeably across different companies.

I really respect Dianna's role as COO. Although, it's very weird to call her my boss. Still working on that. [Laughs]

Dianna and I are a team. We actually like to blur that line. We really recognize the value of one another strengths. As I said earlier, Dianna is full of unique and innovative ideas. She always sees the big picture in the North Star. I'm more detailed and and just way more... if I can say, way more task-oriented, right? I think very strategically and the diversity of our experiences, the diversity of our thoughts, and even our unique ways of working, have enabled us to create really good work products together and drive organizational change. So, we actually see it as a great opportunity. I don't know how we'd do this work without Dianna. And I don't know how Dianna would do this work without me. [Laughs]

Caro 23:36
Partners in shine.

Dianna 23:37
Very true.

Caro 23:38
Such complementary skill sets.

Dianna 23:40
Yeah, absolutely. And I'll just say yes to everything that Lauren said, for sure. I see a large part of my role as removing roadblocks for the team. And, in our partnership, we bring a different lens and perspective which truly sharpens both of us.

Caro 23:55
Let's talk more about Runner and the company that you're building with these complementary skill sets. Runner's mission is to connect outstanding operations talent with the most inclusive startups. And, to talk about Runners website for the third or fourth time in this episode [Laughs], that's what it says in big bold letters as soon as you open the website. I love seeing the word inclusive given such top billing. And, so, I'd love to hear from you two about how are you defining inclusive startups. Is there criteria that the teams have to meet? What does it look like on your end?

Lauren 24:20
The companies really self-select. We're partnering with startups, small businesses, and large companies that are all striving to be inclusive. They may be at different places on this diversity journey and we really welcome that. We do ask our customers and our Runners to commit to our value pledge, and we offer coaching around inclusive hiring practices and equitable pay so I would say that, generally, as long as you are on the right path, we are here to support you in any way we can.

Caro 24:51
That's awesome and feels like a welcoming and inclusive way of approaching that.

Lauren 24:58
Yeah, I think it's important, right? We're all at different places and that's great as long as we're moving forward.

Caro 25:04
Yeah, absolutely. What else do you think makes Runner different from other marketplaces for talent?

Dianna 25:08
Many things. We can talk about the business model and then we can talk about culture and such... but, from the business model, its non-tech operations talent.

So think about the general skills that are needed. You take a... Let's just say startup. We started with the target market only being startups, but we are beyond startups and [work with] other companies as well... but let's take a startup. Somebody has this brilliant idea, passion, and now they have some seed money and they're great at doing whatever it is that they do. If you could bring in an operations person who could understand your business objective, create processes, systems, a risk management plan, tools, metrics, communication... All of those things that align to that business objective, it really can make all the difference in you scaling, or increasing productivity, or profitability.

Those general operation skills are really the difference, I think, between a business being able to be successful—whatever, however success is defined—or not.

Now, some Founders may have that inside of themselves already. And that's great. However, if they can bring someone in, they can be freed up to do their thing.

I always say, "Let's not spend dollar time on penny tasks." So what that would mean, is that whatever is in your zone of genius is your dollar time. If you're doing things that are outside of your zone of genius, your spending that dollar time on penny tasks. However, if you get the right teammates... their dollar time is the places that is not yours, right? So that's one thing - the non-tech operation talent.

We're W2. So all our Runners are W2 and that just makes so much difference. For one, W2 is seen as more stability.

The other thing is Arlan's network, so the network effect. The people that come here—both from the company side and also from the runner side. As part of our matching algorithm, we consider the missions and values of the company, and also of the talent. It's actually something that we intentionally ask—what missions that people are passionate about.

Think about this, you know, there's that quote that says something to the effect of, "If you are doing work that you love, you never work a day in your life," or something like that. I'm sure I butchered it. But, the whole idea is, you know, if you are matched with a company that is passionate and putting resources and their business objective [towards] a cause that you really believe in, you show up every day just feeling like, "Wow. I'm really making a change. I'm really making a difference." I think about the code of, "be the change you want to see in the world," and I think that we are adding to that daily with how we are matching talent. So, that's part of it, the mission alignment.

And, then, you talked about it a little bit, but our interview process. It's a very inclusive and thoughtful interview process. No one should show up feeling stiff or worried. You know, if your toddler comes in, great, put them on your lap and have them be part of the conversation. We're real people. We treat people like real people and that success looks like you, whatever that is. So, it's really great to get that feedback from you and we've got it on Twitter and such different places that people really feel seen when they come to our interview.

All of those things, I'll say, from a business model standpoint, are what make us different. And, then, also the fact that Runner has attracted a bunch of people that have been underestimated due to Arlan's work. What happens when you have people that have Grit and have worked really hard to be seen and achieve and to have all of that energy and power coming together... It's just one of these things that I don't know that you can quantify but it's definitely there.

Caro 29:08
Lauren, is there anything you wanted to add there?

Lauren 29:09
Nope. I think that was great.

Caro 29:12
Awesome, yeah. You know, as someone who does what I call fractional COO work because I really believe that it's such a value add for the company and, for a lot of early-stage startups and some of the startups that I really love to work with the most, are the ones that can benefit most from having that strategic advisor early on... but I know I've run into a lot of confusion around what does fractional mean? What is part-time? How does that work? Don't you need someone like committed full-time? So, I would love to hear how you all think about fractional work and how this structure can benefit the startup and the ops pro.

Lauren 29:43
We really look at our platform as a unique opportunity. It creates an opportunity for Runners to explore many different industries and different companies, all at the same time. For example, we currently have one Runner that is working for three different companies right now.

Caro 29:59
I love that. It sounds like so much fun! That was my first thought. [Laughs]

Lauren 30:04
It might stress me out a little bit. [Laughs] But it is definitely some people's jam, right? I think about when I was entertaining the idea of making a move. It would have been great to be able to get out there and test some different opportunities to see if there was something that I really matched well with. So, I can see a lot of advantages for our Runners today because there is not another company that is doing this work in the way that we are doing it.

Okay, so, Runners love that they can curate their own careers and work fractionally part-time or temp to perm.

Dianna 30:38
When I think about fractional work, and actually what we're doing here at Runner... So, I've said to some of our Runners, "Think of us like your agent."

Caro 30:45
It's a great analogy.

Dianna 30:48
That you don't have to pay for, by the way.

Caro 30:50
Yeah, even better! That's the kind of agent I want.

Dianna 30:54
When you think about fractional, it can be one person supporting many companies, or it could be one person supporting one company. It's just about the opportunities. No one is being put into a box.

What I really love about fractional is, however you want to work, there's a model for that. If you want to work for multiple companies, you can. If you want to do different types of work, we have five different categories of operation talent through our business. And so people can try out different things.

I would say, if I had ten different lives, I would have had 10 different careers. Well, I guess if I was just born later in life, I could have popped right in to Runner and had those careers.

Caro 31:35
I don't know, it sounds like you had quite a few roles at your last company.

Dianna 31:39
I know!

Caro 31:40
But, I feel the same way. I'm like, that's why I want multiple lives, to be able to do all these different things.

Dianna 31:45
But not just in one industry. I think about that Runner we have who's working in multiple places. That person is supporting one of their passions in and around getting funding for black founders, and then another place this person is supporting design, and so this person has a passion for both. They're, you know, an artist and such... and so being able to, you know, we are as people are complex and we have lots of interests and so, truly, how you make money can also can mirror that. Your whole self.

Caro 32:19
Yeah, absolutely. It's like you can bring your whole self to your career and really let that shine through all the different opportunities.

Yeah, you know, I think you and Lauren both spoke to some great advantages there. I know so many—myself included—but so many Ops people would benefit from being able to like give it a try first, right? Like, to join the company, do the perm to hire or the fractional thing, like make sure it's going to work out, and see what it feels like to test out some new opportunities. Especially if you've been at a place for a long time, it's a big change.

Well, thanks for going into that—

Dianna 32:48
I just want to add... I want to add that Lauren definitely did temp to perm with us. So.

[Everyone laughs]

Lauren 32:55
That's true. That is true, I did. The ops in me was like, "You better see them benefits before you join this team, before you leave this stability." Yeah, I definitely...

Caro 33:09
That's how I joined my last role, too. It's the way to do it. I'm all about it.

Lauren 33:13
You know, and it's really interesting, because it just makes me think about how this type of work, how I can see operations professionals really thriving here. In operation roles, you're generally touching so many different parts of the business, right? And you may really love one, but the role kind of requires you to touch all of them, right? And, so, being a Runner will allow you to really create your own career and choose an area that you wanted to focus on within the operation space.

Caro 33:44
That's exactly... You just spoke so eloquently about, like, that's exactly why I started Opsy. It can mean so many different things to so many different people and some of us really like to specialize in that one thing. So many people, like me, I want to wear all ten hats at the same time. I have that FOMO that Dianna and I were talking about, like, I want to do all the different things! And wear all the different hats!

So, you know, I like to ask everybody: how do you two define operations?

Dianna 34:10
Yeah, well, when I think about operations in a stricter sense, it truly is taking the mission and values of a company and operationalizing it. How do you create a system or processes to create a system in order to meet that business objective?

When I look at the decisions that I'm making—and by the way part of the business objective is not just the bottom line, how you make money. It's also the kind of culture you want to create, how people feel about working with you and inside of the company. And so thinking about aligning your decisions, your actions, with that business objectives. That's really how I'll say in the strictest sense of how I think about.

Caro 35:05
Lauren, did you have anything to add to that?

Lauren 35:06
No, I think I think Dianna really covered it. Yeah, I think we're good.

Caro 35:13
Well, the operations field has changed a lot in recent years and we talk a lot about that on the podcast and in the community. Y'all are so close to, I guess, the frontlines, of sorts, you know talking to Opsy people all day, talking to the companies who would benefit from hiring them. And, so, how have you seen that play out in your work with Runner?

Lauren 35:32
I think a lot of what we talked about today is a direct reflection of some of those changes. We really believe that our employees are going to continue to demand flexible work environments and so we're creating that opportunity by allowing for temporary, part-time work, or temp to perm. Whatever you're looking for, we make that possible.

As we also mentioned there's the ability to pick, you know, the industry that you're interested in. You can take your operational talent and support an industry you're interested in or a mission you want to support. So, I think we're all really following the demand and asks of our people. Employers are going to continue to need top talent in a flexible way. And our way of working is just more fluid today. It's about remaining agile, it's about adopting fast, and just being really flexible. Our business environments are changing, our technology is changing. The development of HireRunner, this app that we're about to launch, is really going to support making this possible for companies and businesses to work together in the future.

Caro 36:31
What advice would you give to someone who wants to move into a more ops leadership role?

Dianna 36:36
Sort of the obvious, very obvious, advice is to apply to be a Runner. Download the HigherRunner app coming out soon.

And, with that, say someone has a completely different background and this seems like it would be a career change for them... You may be an expert in, I don't know, pick a field, mechanical engineering. But you're like, "I'm really interested in operations." You could come to our platform and, no guarantee, just wanted to say that disclaimer... But somebody can come in and possibly be able to work as maybe an intermediate or beginner level operations person, right? They're coachable, they have a lot of energy around it, they do understand systems in a different framework and, with some oversight and coaching, you know, [they could] get some wins under their belt and get some confidence and continue to learn in the field. So, I think that HireRunner is a place for people that want to get into Ops to come in and know that sometimes you know you may be an expert one place and you come in and you're more beginner or intermediate here, but it is the perfect place to be able to come in and try operations. And, then, to be able to do that in different industries.

Caro 37:57
Yeah, and to really be able to curate your career.

Dianna 37:59
Thank you, yes. Absolutely, curate your career. 100%.

Lauren 38:02
The only thing I would add there is to continue to up-skill yourself. So, with the industry constantly changing or, even in the example that Dianna gave of transitioning into a different role, just remaining in that mindset, that growth mindset. Get out there. There's so many tools available to us at our fingertips to learn more about the operations profession and just the strategic planning and all the things, right? And that's one thing that we're actually going to help our Runners do. [We're going to] provide up-skilling opportunities and training. So, again, apply to be a Runner. And we absolutely help you create your career through our up-skilling opportunities.

Caro 38:45
Awesome. Yes, as someone who has already loved already being a small part of the community and even just going to the monthly calls and seeing all my familiar Opsy faces, it's like a little mini reunion already. So, definitely second that or third that endorsement.

And, you know, before I wrap up, I'll just go ahead and say that we will include the link to do that in the show notes. We'll make sure we put Dianna's Twitter account in the show notes too so everyone can follow her and help her build her, you know, her Twitter following.

Dianna 39:15
Oh, yes, thank you. [Laughs]

Lauren 39:17
Yes, she needs followers. Everybody follow her. [Laughs]

Dianna 39:20
People, follow me. I promise I will work on stepping my game up.

Caro 39:28
Okay, well, we'll all help, right?

Lauren 39:30
I think I have like eight followers.

Caro 39:31
Okay, we'll follow you too! We'll all follow each other. We'll all get better at Twitter together. We'll DM each other our pro tips.

Dianna 39:41
Absolutely. This has been a lot of fun.

Caro 39:43
Well, thank you so much for chatting with me today. I look forward to seeing all the awesome stuff that comes out of Runner and out of you two individually. It's been great to get to know you.

Dianna 39:56
You, as well. Thank you so much.

Lauren 39:57
Thank you so much.

Thanks for listening to Opsy. You can find resources and links from this episode in the show notes at Opsy.work. And while you're there I hope you'll take a second to join our free community where we share resources and opportunities that help us all level up in our ops careers. Again that link is Opsy.work. Until next time, stay opsy, friends.

Interested in learning more about operations leadership?
Check out our interview with Theresa Joseph to hear how she juggles all the different hats she needs to wear as COO at a growing startup.