Blog | December 13, 2022
Cimplifi Conversations | Featuring Sonia Hilton
We know the importance of building a company and culture that empowers people to thrive. We offer an environment where you can make an impact and grow and be recognized for the value you deliver.
Welcome to our series, Cimplifi Conversations, where we recognize a team member honoring our company values – courageous, reliable, inventive, and adaptable. At Cimplifi, we believe in empowering our people and providing opportunities for professional and personal growth.
Recently, Steve Harber, executive chairman of Cimplifi, sat down to chat with Sonia Hilton to discuss her role at Cimplifi as vice president of product. Sonia joined Cimplifi almost eight years ago and focuses her time on proprietary product development and supporting third party applications. We hope you enjoy learning more about Sonia and her role at Cimplifi.
Steve: Hi Sonia, happy holidays!
Sonia: Thanks, Steve! Happy holidays to you too. You know we are both “SH,” we could start a club.
Steve: Right, a very exclusive club. We are also both in club Cimplifi so we can share what that’s like with everyone. What is working at Cimplifi like?
Sonia: I don’t know that I have a “typical” day, but my role focuses primarily on the support of off the shelf products (Relativity, Disco, etc.) and custom developed products (CI Admin, CI Translate/Transcribe, etc.) that our clients use daily. I work closely with the support teams of the off the shelf products to ensure that our clients are supported, and our custom innovations are working well. I also work very closely with our development teams on updates to existing custom products and building out new products. I’ll often meet with members of other departments to talk through workflows or ideas for new tools that can be developed to assist in their roles. I also keep an eye on our support inbox to help our SupportOps team address incoming support requests from our clients and internal users. Lots of multitasking!
Steve: How did you wind up at Cimplifi?
Sonia: After working in large law firms for 9 years I was looking for a change and a former manager introduced me to Cimplifi (then Compliance). I was really drawn to the tight knit, small team, and the culture of the company. I followed him here and haven’t looked back!
Steve: How did you get into legal technology and the law firm world?
Sonia: I fell into the eDiscovery business while looking for a part time job as I was wrapping up my software engineering degree. I started out with a temp job indexing boxes in a conference room of a law firm in San Francisco and my manager at the time taught me all about the eDiscovery industry. He saw how my software engineering training could fit in the eDiscovery technology world and encouraged me to learn more about the databases being used at the time. Picking up Concordance was easy for me, which quickly morphed into supporting Relativity, and then expanding out to trial support and supporting multiple offices for the firm and identifying workflows that could be improved to make our internal teams more efficient. Thanks Dr. Don (Dr. Donald Billings at Sidley Austin) for showing me the ropes!
Steve: Are you originally from California?
Sonia: Yes, I am a native Californian. I’m based in my hometown of Pacifica, CA, just south of San Francisco. I moved away for a bit during college all the way out to Villanova, PA, but moved back home after dealing with an East Coast winter. I was lucky enough to find my own place just a few blocks away from my parents and the house I grew up in, and I love it here!
Steve: That’s a great story to wind up back in your childhood neighborhood and close to your family. I love that story. I understand the East Coast winters because I live in NYC. Tell me more about the product development team and what makes this group so outstanding?
Sonia: First, they are smart individuals who all want to help one another succeed. We work well together and often jump on screenshares to walk through problems together, or maybe even just work on our own projects side by side knowing we can ask a quick question or chat with one another. I have learned so much from my teammates and I hope I’ve taught them a few things in return. We have a nice balance of client-facing and internal projects. The products we support are used by client admins and internal users, both of which have different learning styles, different access levels, and different ways they think the tools should work or how they can be improved. Trying to find ways to make a tool useful for the most technical of internal users but also not too complicated that someone brand new to the industry can figure it out is a unique challenge but we really thrive on solving these types of opportunities. I have to give a shoutout to Megan LaFrance who inspires me and who I have learned so much working with her the past couple of years about management, process flows, and just general awesomeness.
Steve: What’s been one of your favorite projects to work on?
Sonia: My favorite project was building our Spend dashboard inside PowerCI. It was my first full product build out when joining the IT/product team. When I started at Cimplifi, I was one of a small group of eDiscovery PMs, and the only one in California. Since then, I’ve gone from managing eDiscovery projects to mentoring junior members of the eDiscovery team, onboarding subscription clients in their own dedicated environments, hiring new PM team members, managing the PM team, and eventually making the jump from services to IT/product. It feels full circle to have begun my career in a law firm, then transitioning to PM work on the vendor side, then to the development side where we can take real world challenges and create something useful for the end client and that’s what CI Spend is. CI Spend started as a sketch and an idea when I joined the IT/product team. I took it through information gathering, design, development, testing, beta client feedback, and full release. I got to work with the sales team and Marc (Marc Zamsky, CEO) directly to get a gauge on what the clients wanted to see. It was so much fun to take their feedback and then work with the data and development team to see how we could make the numbers display in a way that would help clients see where their spend is going within the environment. I’m proud of how that first release rolled out, and we keep adding to it, making it better and more useful for our clients.
Steve: What part(s) of our mission statement resonates with you most?
Sonia: The first three words, “To empower clients….” I love that we give our clients flexibility to manage their own projects and customize their environment. I’ve built some great relationships with clients over the years from helping them learn the tools and build custom workflows that fit their needs. Being able to connect with them in person at events like RelativityFest was a trip! I’ve worked with some of them for several years but just now got to put faces to the names I’ve been connecting with. It was great to meet them face to face.
Steve: So tell me Sonia, where do you see yourself in five years?
Sonia: That’s a tough one. I definitely want to say, “right here, working at home in my sweats with the same awesome team,” but don’t want to sound like I don’t want to keep growing and learning and expanding the product team. So, where I am but better? But if you’d asked me that same question 5 years ago, I never would have imagined I’d have made the jump from PM to IT and be working so closely with Ari (Ari Perlstein, CTO) day to day. So, who knows, I’m just along for the ride to see where life takes me. But definitely still in comfy clothes! 😊
Steve: I’ve been known to wear a velour tracksuit and dress casually myself. 😉 Last question, what advice do you have for someone just starting out or thinking of making a change like you did from PM to IT or product or vice versa?
Sonia: Ask questions! There is so much to learn in the industry, and so many people full of knowledge ready to help. If there’s something that looks interesting to you, just ask to learn more. You never know where it will take you.
We are always looking for knowledgeable and passionate people to join our team. Explore our job board to learn more. Attorneys, data experts, project managers, sales pros, and IT whizzes: this is your opportunity to thrive!
Until then, we look forward to introducing you to more of our talented team members that shine and bring dedication and creativity to their role at Cimplifi.