Chief of Staff Spotlight: Stephanie Lewis
What is a Chief of Staff and what do they do? There are none better to ask than the Chiefs themselves. In this series, we interview current and former Chiefs of Staff about their role as well as their personal motivations and secrets to performing it well.
Name: Stephanie Lewis
Title: Chief of Staff
Company: NexTraq, A Michelin Group Company
Location: Atlanta, GA
Years in Position: January 2018-Present
In 1-2 sentences, what is the overall mission of your role?
The primary mission of my role is progress planning, specifically strategic progress.
How did you find this opportunity?
I was presented this opportunity through an internal promotion within NexTraq. At the time, I was Director of Sales for our Tampa, Florida location. The role was completely new to the company and I jumped at the opportunity to be the inaugural Chief of Staff, especially after learning more about the role, both at NexTraq and from my research into other Chief of Staff roles.
How does your previous background help you in this current role?
My previous experience includes over 15 years of sales, team leadership, project management, and change management. I also have a strong background in process improvement, strategy development, and human resources. Possessing a variety of experiences and talents is crucial for a Chief of Staff.
What skills do you believe are most critical to your success in this role?
Strong relationship building, time management, and emotional intelligence are a few of the basic skills that are most critical for success. These help create the foundation for every other aspect of the role. My first few months as a Chief of Staff would have been particularly challenging without these skills.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my role tends to be juggling competing priorities. As a Chief of Staff you are usually working on high value projects and it can be a challenge to place one above the other. Other than that, I believe the most challenging parts of being a Chief of Staff are very similar to any other role.
Tell me about your learning curve when you started this position. How long did it take to feel up to speed? What was your approach to learning all the facets of this position?
With it being an internal promotion, I did have the benefit of having a strong foundation of company and industry knowledge. This allowed me to spend my first couple of months as a Chief of Staff to develop my role, rather than having to start from scratch. I spent that time absorbing and learning as much as I could. I would equate those first months to drinking from a firehose. It all went by so quickly.
What’s helped you establish trust and rapport with your executive? What do you think is the key to a great fit with an executive?
Honesty is paramount. It has been the basis for establishing trust and creating rapport with my CEO.
Do you feel like you have ownership in your work? If so, how do you establish that?
My role is the epitome of the “catch all” Chief of Staff role. While the majority of what I work on is strategic, I do have ownership over some aspects of my work. This is primarily through high value projects that I lead.
How do you define success in this role?
I define success in this role in the same way that I’ve defined it in previous roles. Success to me is leaving the role, and the company, in a better position than when I started. I consider it a privilege to be the foundational Chief of Staff for NexTraq, as it allows me to set the standard for all those that come after me.
Give us one piece of advice/lesson you’ve learned from your experience in this role.
Always be open. Being a Chief of Staff is such a dynamic role and I’ve learned so much from being open to learning and to receiving feedback and opinions from others.