Employee Spotlight: Ashley Chain, Director of People & Operations
Blog: The Process Street Blog
At Process Street, we take great pride in our exceptional team members, and today, we’re excited to shine the spotlight on one of our remarkable leaders – Ashley Chain.
Ashley’s journey with us began even before the pandemic struck, making her a key figure in navigating our company through challenging times. As a female leader in the tech industry, Ashley exemplifies our core value of laser focus.
Her unwavering determination has been instrumental in fostering a people-focused company culture that encourages growth and empowers our employees to thrive.
Join us as we celebrate Ashley’s contributions and learn more about her insights, experiences, and the positive impact she continues to make on Process Street’s journey. Get to know the visionary leader who inspires us all to embrace resilience and purpose in everything we do:
- Introducing our Director of People & Operations: Ashley Chain
- Ashley’s professional life before Process Street
- Life at Process Street from the Director of People & Operations
- Ashley Chain: The mastermind behind Process Street’s epic company culture
Introducing our Director of People & Operations: Ashley Chain
Q: What three words would you use to describe yourself?
I did some crowd sourcing for this one, and came up with: Curious, detail-oriented, and understanding.
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
Spare time?? Kidding. I’m always down to play a game! Also riding my bike, organizing things, playing cards with my daughter, and doing puzzles like logic games and cross words.
Q: What is an interesting / fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
I was a dancer for the Houston Rockets, which is an NBA team (basketball). I always thought it looked like so much fun, so in my last year of law school I tried out and made the team! It was a really neat experience, and I loved performing in front of the big crowds
Q: How do you start your morning?
It’s been very different these last few months! We welcomed our third daughter in March, so now I usually get up around 5:30am and get my kids’ stuff ready for the day (lunches, etc), have my coffee and work a little bit, then my youngest gets up around 6:30am. I drop my kids at school then back home to take on the day!
“Ashley is a true champ and an awesome leader. She’s always there for us, ready to jump in and learn whatever it takes to get things done. We know that she’s got our backs, and together, we’re taking on challenges and rocking it! She is aware of the work we do, and monitors how each of us is feeling. Collaboration and growth are her jam, and we’re lucky to have her in our corner, making the journey one heck of a fun ride!”
– Gabriel Labrada, Director of Engineering
Ashley’s professional life before Process Street
Q: Could you give us a high level on your professional background prior to Process Street?
After graduating from law school, all I knew was that I didn’t want to be an attorney. I was living in Washington DC near the cutest wedding dress store that I walked by every day. I thought it would be fun to work there, so I sold wedding dresses there for a while.
When I moved back to Houston, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I became a legal recruiter working for a big agency. I was promoted there pretty quickly and kept trying to improve their processes, but I was told I needed to do things how they’d always been done; I wasn’t allowed to change anything. That didn’t work for me!
After that, I went to work for a legal start up doing their recruiting operations, and I found out I really liked that world – building people processes and documenting them. I moved to a different company doing something similar before finally joining Process Street.
Q: Important moments, catalysts, turning points in your career?
Being told I couldn’t improve on a process or implement a new process was huge for me. It made me realize I didn’t want to work at a big company; I wanted to work somewhere that I could figure things out on my own and build best practices that didn’t exist yet.
Q: What drew you to Process Street in the first place?
I was really unhappy at my job, so I started looking for tech start ups that were hiring. When I found the job description for my role at Process Street, I almost cried. It was exactly what I had been looking for!
I nerd out on checklists/organization/streamlining, and to see this company was hiring for a position that was everything I loved doing while supporting those who were building a product for all the things I loved doing, I couldn’t believe it. I knew I had to work here after my first interview with Vinay.
“Ashley is an awesome person to work with. She is kind, caring, empowering, and genuinely loves to help anyone on the team however she can. She is intelligent and curious in the best ways, and also adds a healthy dash of humor and fun to team meetings, which I always appreciate.”
Life at Process Street from the Director of People & Operations
Q: What would you say to those looking to apply for a vacancy at Process Street?
I want people to know that Erin Rice, our amazing People & Operations Coordinator, looks at each and every application that comes in herself. She cares so deeply about giving everyone a great candidate experience, so when you take the time to answer the questions we ask with your application, she does read them and it does make a difference!
Also, if you want to work for a company where you can see the difference your contribution makes, this could be the place for you.
“In the 4+ years I’ve worked with Ashley, she has proven time and again her exceptional skills as a People and Operations leader. Strong and compassionate, thoughtful and communicative, Ashley has the rare ability to balance emotional intelligence with strategic, reason-based decision-making. We are lucky to have her on the team.”
– Oliver Peterson, Head of Content
Q: What do you like most about working at Process Street?
So many things! The biggest thing for me is the people. I am in awe daily of how smart, hard working, innovative, and just cool these people are. I love that I get to work with people from all over the world! We hire the best people that really care about what we’re doing here. I love getting asked this question in an interview because I am genuinely excited to share that with candidates.
Q: What does it take to be successful at a company like Process Street?
Being able to pivot and still keep your focus. Recognizing when something isn’t working and being open to (and excited for!) feedback.
Ashley Chain: The mastermind behind Process Street’s epic company culture
Q: Can you tell us about some of the significant milestones or achievements you’ve experienced during your four years here?
When I first started here, I was the only person in my department. I was doing and learning new things every day, and it was amazing! I realized I can learn to do basically anything, and that was a big turning point for me.
I wasn’t nervous or intimidated to take on new projects because I knew I could do it, and I knew that when I made a mistake it was OK. We are all learning together and trying new things here, and that type of environment is perfect for me.
Being promoted to Director of my department is also a big milestone/achievement for me personally because it’s the first time I’ve had that level of responsibility.
Q: As someone who joined our company before the pandemic hit, could you share with us some of the challenges you faced and how you managed to lead the company through those difficult times?
The pandemic didn’t change our day to day as much as it did other companies because we were already remote, so we already had the framework in place to function remotely. The biggest challenge for us was being able to tailor our help/outreach/approach to each person’s needs.
Each employee’s experience during the pandemic was different, especially because we are in so many different countries. Being a small company, we were able to work within everyone’s needs individually, which was really great and, I hope, helpful to our employees.
“Ashley is the connector here at Process Street, she brings everyone together – and she does it in a thoughtful way. Its hard to be thoughtful about every person in an entire company, and she does that really well. She embodies the the culture here at Process Street, we’re lucky to have her!”
– John Cunningham, Director of Sales
Q: Being a female leader in the tech industry is commendable. Could you speak to the importance of diversity and inclusivity in the workplace and how you have contributed to fostering a more inclusive environment at Process Street?
We all know diversity and inclusivity are important, and I’m so proud to work at a company where everyone strongly believes that. I’ve worked to shape our recruiting process to eliminate bias as much as possible, but that’s just one step. That’s the ‘back-end’ so to speak.
Implementing a process is one thing, but a big part of creating an inclusive environment is talking about it and keeping it top of mind. Talking about the type of culture we want to have here with leadership, current employees, and new hires. Checking in with our employees to see what we could be doing better or differently and acting on that feedback. And hiring people that share that same value but who will also bring a different perspective.
Q: Our company values laser focus, and you are recognized as someone who exemplifies this value. Can you elaborate on how you apply laser focus in your work and how it has contributed to your success?
For me, laser focus is a lot about prioritization. Knowing what our goals are and focusing on and prioritizing the things that will move those goals forward.
At a small company, it’s easy to get distracted by all the little things that need to get done because there are a lot. I tend to get excited about projects and can get too into the weeds and end up overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done.
It sounds counterintuitive, but laser focus can be taking a step back to focus in on the actual goal and figuring out the next best step to take in achieving that goal.
“Ashley’s level of organization and efficiency is simply unmatched. Her dedication to the company’s mission and her ability to create a harmonious work environment make her an essential part of our growth and accomplishments.”
– Vinay Patankar, CEO and Co-Founder
Q: Creating a people-focused company culture is no small feat. Could you tell us about some of the initiatives or strategies you have implemented to foster a culture that prioritizes the well-being and growth of our employees?
First of all, hiring amazing people makes it easy to have a people-focused company culture. Our people really are just the best!
We also place a great importance on well-being, which is why we’ve always had unlimited PTO. It sounds awesome but in practice can be not so great. At some companies with unlimited PTO, employees end up taking less time off because they’re not sure what’s ‘normal’ or acceptable.
To combat that, we implemented guidelines of what’s ‘normal’ or expected, and we also encourage our leadership team to take time off publicly and really take that time off. Like, don’t sign into Slack and don’t check your email. That’s hard for some people, but having that modeled at the highest level (our CEO for example!) encourages others to follow suit.
A huge one for me (and for a lot of my colleagues) is the flexible hours. A lot of us are parents, and we know showing up for our kids is so important. Having a job I love that acknowledges how important that is by ‘allowing’ me to pick my kids up from school every day or take them to the park in the middle of the day is amazing!
We also have a culture where it’s ok to make a mistake. We realize growth doesn’t come from doing what you’re good at all the time, so try something new and let us know how it goes! Learn from it and over-communicate: what you did, why you did it, what you learned from it, what you’re doing differently this time, etc. That’s how we grow together and learn from each other.
“Ashley is the kind of manager that equally pushes you to be my best while also being extremely understanding of life and everything that goes into it. I have never had someone in my professional life that keeps the human side of a career in the forefront. It is so refreshing and makes me want to work hard each day to make our department the best it can be!”
– Erin Rice, People & Operations Coordinator
Q: With your experience and leadership in the tech industry, what advice would you give to aspiring female leaders who are looking to make an impact and thrive in this field?
Just go for it! Find a company that values different opinions and empowers you to give yours. You don’t have to know everything to have a valuable opinion. You don’t have to check every box to get the job and do it well. Find a mentor and learn everything you can from them. A lot of people are excited to help aspiring female leaders, you just need to take the initiative to find one and ask all the questions.
Q: In your role, you’ve likely had to navigate various challenges and overcome obstacles. Can you share a particular professional challenge you faced and how you managed to overcome it?
When I started, a lot of the ‘how we work at Process Street’ information wasn’t documented. It lived in people’s heads or in a random Gdrive folder, and I spent a lot of time answering the same questions over and over.
We decided to write an Employee Handbook, and we made sure it was searchable so most employee questions are self-serve now. It also saved us the trouble of having to commit something to memory – write it down and free that space up in your mind for something else.
Q: How do you stay motivated and inspired in your role, especially during times of uncertainty or change?
Our EPD team is making our product so awesome, that I am constantly blown away by what it can do. Each cycle I find myself so inspired and genuinely excited by what they’re creating, and it motivates me to be better in my role as well.
“Ashley is incredibly on top of things. She always delivers and gets things done with a smile. She’s also hilarious, and not afraid to be a real person with you despite being in charge of HR. Ashley is an all-around excellent person to work with.”
– Blake Bailey, Director of Customer Success