The SaaS Chief of Staff: Learnings from Season Two of Aspiring Ops
July 8, 2021
The SaaS Chief of Staff: Learnings from Season Two of Aspiring Ops

The Chief of Staff position at high growth companies is going through an evolution. 

For many of these companies, the Chief of Staff job title started as a way to describe a position that encompassed a wide range of projects or an early stage employee that served as a generalist across the business. But the Chief of Staff position has grown into an essential role that companies are intentionally seeking out to help accelerate growth and amplify the impact of leadership. A simple search of 'LinkedIn Chief of Staff Jobs,' not only surfaces hundreds of opportunities, but also very detailed descriptions of what companies expect from the role. 

Here at Elate, we've been fortunate enough to be at the forefront of this evolution, and had the opportunity to work alongside leading Chiefs of Staff as they've helped shape the direction of the position. 

On Season Two of Aspiring Ops, we met with Chiefs of Staff from a variety of companies. From first-time Chiefs of Staff to those that have been a SaaS Chief of Staff at multiple companies, Season Two explored all stages of the role. 

And through each of these conversations, we realized that guests had incredible advice on some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from folks interested in learning more about the Chief of Staff position. So we wanted to highlight some of the thoughts we heard from Season Two of Aspiring Ops, and how they may apply to strategy and ops leaders interested in pursuing the Chief of Staff position or continuing their own development. 

Building a Company's First Chief of Staff Job Description

As the Chief of Staff role continues to evolve and take shape, it's very common that first time Chiefs of Staff will be stepping into newly formed positions. Ben Battaglia recently stepped into the role of Chief of Staff at Lessonly, and on Episode 11 of Season Two Ben shares how he and the company thought about designing the role. 

Setting Yourself Up for Success from Day One in the Chief of Staff Role

One of our favorite pieces of advice came from the Chief of Staff at Agio, Steph Shaw. On Episode Four, Steph shares why she intentionally went about building relationships throughout the company from day one, and how she thought of the role as moving through influence and not authority. 

Evaluating the Right Fit in a Chief of Staff Position

Recently we wrote about the importance of looking for the right leader when stepping into a Chief of Staff position. Unlike most roles at a company, the success of the Chief of Staff role is closely aligned with the rapport and trust established with your principal. As Zeke Fraint, Chief of Staff at Clearcover, shared on Episode Four of Season Two why choosing the right CEO and leadership team was critical in his decision to join Clearcover. 

Chief of Staff vs Executive Assistant 

We often get asked the simple question, 'What is the difference between a Chief of Staff vs Executive Assistant?' For those unfamiliar with the roles, it might seem like they have a lot of similarities. Grace Sutherland, the current Chief of Staff at Yext, has filled both positions, and joined us on Episode 10 of Season Two to highlight the main differences between the Chief of Staff vs Executive Assistant positions. 

Effectively Working Across Teams in the Chief of Staff Role

The Chief of Staff position rarely has a dedicated team, so when looking at the Chief of Staff org chart it might seem like there aren't a lot of resources dedicated to the role's success. But as Amrit Kanesa-thasan shares, trust can serve as the greatest currency for a Chief of Staff. On Episode Five of Season Two, Amrit shares how his effectiveness as the current Chief of Staff at Relativity can be closely tied to building trust, creating clarity, and delivering results. 

Aspiring Ops 

Whether you are just setting out on your Chief of Staff career path or far along in your journey, the advice from the Chiefs of Staff that have joined us on Aspiring Ops is invaluable in understanding where the position has been and where it's heading. 

As we've seen already, the templated Chief of Staff to CEO job description no longer provides us with the clarity and direction needed for someone to thrive in the position. The Chief of Staff position and strategy leaders everywhere are helping to redefine the impact strategy and ops can have on high growth businesses. 

If you're interested in learning more from today's leading strategy and ops leaders, check out Aspiring Ops today!