When people started asking me earlier this year who our next hire would be, I think most of them were surprised when I said Chief of Staff. They assumed that All Places (like most law firms) would only care about stacking up more lawyers to generate more billable hours. Why would you hire someone who doesn’t directly add to the bottom line? But the few who weren’t surprised all had the same response: “Great. The right Chief of Staff will change your life.”
After working with our new Chief of Staff, I can confirm that is correct! She is a game-changer in more ways than I can express in this blogpost. So without further ado, I want to introduce you all to our new Chief of Staff, Erica Akitani-Bob!
1. Tell us about yourself! What’s your professional background?
I’m a startup operator. My first role was in business operations as employee #1 at a pre-seed startup, working on the CEO’s couch in West Village. I always credit that role (s/o to my former boss and friend, Stephen Sokoler) in developing my operations and strategy acumen. That’s where I skinned my teeth and picked up the work philosophy that “good today is better than perfect tomorrow”. I left that role after almost four years to work at a consulting firm founded by their former Head of Sales to build up their project management function and lead business operations, followed by two years at the largest plaintiffs law firm as an Operations Lead, managing their Labor and Employment Law departments and overseeing firmwide trial operations. And most recently, I was the Chief of Staff at a Series-A startup shortly after their raise, working with their newly formed Executive and leadership team.
2. Why All Places?
Everything aligned for me. I discovered All Places in a newsletter for female startups and immediately fell in love. I studied Labor and Employment Relations and while my work isn’t remotely tied to those studies, one constant is that I’m very attached to my work and work product and All Places was at the perfect stage for me to drive impact. The role, mission and my conversations with the team all confirmed that All Places was the perfect fit. I'm passionate about female entrepreneurship and being at a firm that supports women and having colleagues who raise the bar of excellence everyday reaffirms that I made the right decision, everyday.
3. How has your experience matched your expectations so far?
Better than expected (and I had high expectations). For such a small firm, my onboarding process was thoughtful and thorough and even less than two months in, I feel as though I’ve gotten my bearings. There’s always a lot happening and the firm is at an exciting inflection point where we’re ready to expand and optimize operations and I can’t wait for the next few months.
4. On a personal note, what interests or hobbies do you pursue outside the proverbial office?
I’m a yogi! I practice 3-4x a week, although I’ve fallen off a bit as I've been ramping up and go to personal training 1x a week. I never worked out consistently until the pandemic but with hybrid/remote work and all the craziness in the world, I’ve found exercise to be cathartic and a healthy break from the workday. I am a bit of a workaholic so being disciplined in my exercise routine and devoting time to an activity that is solely for me, helps create balance all around. For work itself, carving out time at night and/or over the weekend to setup for the day or week ahead is non-negotiable. I'm also keen on having 20+ tabs open at any given time.
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We were incredibly lucky with the pool of applicants we had for this position. The thing that stood t most about Erica was that, even during the interview process, she was already doing the job. During our first call, I was taking notes–not just on her as a candidate, but on things we should be doing differently at All Places. She is, in brief, a total pro.
It also turns out she’s a lovely human who has already brought many new ideas to our team (and that 20+ tab comment is no joke). Any of you that were at the Growth Warrior Summit know that her swag and company table game is next level. If you are a client or partner of ours, I have no doubt you will enjoy working with Erica as much as we do. Now, I have to run. Erica runs a tight ship and doesn’t like me spending too much time on emails. 😉
--Jessie Gabriel + Erica Akitani-Bob