Women in Technology -- Carmen Cooper
This summer, we’re kicking off a Women in Technology blog series focusing on some fantastic women in leadership roles here at the Sage Intacct office of Sage. These women come from all walks of life, and are mentors, moms, bosses, and even beekeepers. Their stories and wisdom inspired me, and I trust you’ll find the same.
This latest profile is on Carmen Cooper, Director of People Operations at Sage Intacct. Here’s what she had to share…
Brittany Benson: Carmen, to start, can you tell me a little bit about your role at Sage Intacct?
Carmen Cooper: Absolutely! I am the Director of People Operations at Sage Intacct. Working in human resources is such an honor because I get to have an impact on our best asset – our employees, and what their journey working at Sage Intacct looks like. My goal in my role is that every employee is waking up in the morning truly wanting to be here. Employees with that mentality are much more likely to bring in other fantastic candidates and they’re going to have a huge impact at the organization.
In terms of my role, I look after everything from recruitment, employee engagement, corporate culture, benefits, and then the things that are personal to employees. It’s important to Sage Intacct, and to me personally, to ensure that our employees are treated as the best assets that they are.
Brittany: I love that – For a company of this size it’s so unique that HR can still have such a personal impact on each individual contributor. Can you tell me about your path to Sage Intacct and how you got involved in the technology space?
Carmen: My job prior to Intacct was also a cloud company; I was a receptionist there and then my role evolved over time. 12 years ago, I was hired at Sage Intacct not only to do HR, but in the early years I had a hand in everything it seemed! I did some recruitment, accounts receivable, payroll, collections... It wasn’t really a choice at that point; Intacct was still small back in 2007. There were three people in G&A! One did finance and accounting, I did the HR side, and then there was a CFO! But we were all really committed to making it work, so we wore a bunch of hats and made things happen.
A huge part of me learning Sage Intacct’s technology was because I had to use it! Today though, not only has the product itself evolved, but the organization has grown significantly since those early days and now I’m able to strictly focus on people operations versus accounts receivable. That said, I didn't realize I was going to do accounting when I came here!
Brittany: 12 years! That’s such an incredible tenure! How has your team evolved and grown over the last decade?
Carmen: When I started at Intacct, there was an HR consultant that came twice a week, and that was it. Eventually I took over as a full-time HR and other responsibilities. Today, there are 24 people that report to me! Now we have HR manager’s in three different countries as well – Romania, Israel, and India.
Within my team here in the US, everyone has a very specific role now, whereas I used to do all of it from the beginning. The progression from 12 years to today is spectacular.
Brittany: Is there anything you’d like to share that comes to mind in terms of something you’re proud that Sage Intacct offers its employees?
Carmen: A few things that come to mind that I’m proud of are: our 401K matching program, a generous PTO policy, and a great benefits package for employees and their families. Sage Intacct recognizes that Silicon Valley is a unique market and we want to ensure that we keep up, not just to remain competitive, but also because it’s the right thing to do for our employees.
This actually isn’t tangible, but it’s notable – I’m most proud of our lasting corporate culture. 12 years ago we were certainly focused on growth, but we were also determined to hire the right people; all the way back in 2007. Does it mean we’re behind in hiring sometimes? Sure. But when we do fill a role, that person has been thoroughly vetted and our data shows that they’re going to stay for a long time.
I’m proud that despite the incredible growth that Sage Intacct has experienced in the last few years, we’ve kept that mentality of quality over quantity, always. You may not be able to measure “corporate culture,” but that’s what I’m most proud of Sage Intacct for.
Brittany: Thank you so much for sharing that, Carmen, that’s really inspiring. On that same note, can you tell me about a woman who has inspired you?
Carmen: Erin Brockovich! Probably not an answer you were expecting. But here’s why: she wasn't very polished, right? And a lot of people kind of discredited her just based on looks. Being in HR, sometimes you look at a photo or a profile and it’s easy to make a judgment beforehand.
With her, it was the same thing. You looked at her, how she was dressed, and how she carried herself – it looked very unprofessional. But yet her environmental activism accomplishments are astounding! She changed my perspective that you can't judge a book by its cover.
Secondly, she made me realize, all the way back when I was in college, that just one person can make a difference. Reading about the impact Erin had, looking the way she did in some of the pictures I've seen, I thought, "I can do it too as an immigrant. She can do all this... I can too."
Brittany: Can you share what the best part about your job is?
Carmen: The best part of my job is when an employee tells me that they enjoyed an event we hosted or that they were happy about something HR initiated. It’s gratifying to get the acknowledgement of, "This was really great," or, "That was a great event," or, "That was said really well." That's what makes me feel like we're doing something good. I take all that little stuff and make it bigger in my head because it makes me feel awesome!
Brittany: Do you have a vision for the future?
Carmen: Ironically, Marc (Sage Intacct’s Sr. VP, Head of Business Operations & Finance), asked me what my plan is just the other day. What’s important to me is making sure I'm somewhere – whether that's one year, five years, or 10 years from now – I'm somewhere where I have self-satisfaction in the role that I'm doing.
When I was younger, it was about moving up in the ladder; and that was appropriate for that season of life. Now it's about how satisfied I am in where I'm at. Whether that's going to be an individual contributor or an even higher role, as long as I'm happy where I'm at, I'm okay with that.
The biggest part of that means getting to spend time with my children; I need that balance, otherwise it doesn't work. I leave at 5:00 because I'm with my children. Do I work after hours or early in the morning sometimes? Of course. But dinner and bedtime with my kids: that's my family time, and everyone on my team and the executives understand and honor that.
Brittany: Lastly, if you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what might that be?
Carmen: You will fail. I wish I had learned when I was younger that failing is not a bad thing because we all make mistakes. I would take Arianna Huffington's advice and remind myself that failure is not the end, it's merely a stepping stone. When you're young though, it’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole of, "Oh my God. I did something bad. I made a mistake and the world is now ending."
Today though I look at failure as a learning opportunity. It's what you do after the failure that matters, not the failure itself. If you let it drown you, then you've already further failed. But if you let it light a fire, change your ways, and make different choices to prevent it from happening again… it’s not the failure that defines you, but rather the character of who you become because of it.
Brittany Benson is the Senior Corporate Communications Manager at Sage Intacct.