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, Marla Crawford, general counsel of Cimplifi, sat down to chat with Staci Otto to discuss her role at Cimplifi as director of project management. Staci joined Cimplifi just before the pandemic began in January of 2020 and after experiencing the crazy ride and impact of COVID on a new job, she chats with Marla about her role at Cimplifi. We hope you enjoy learning more about Staci and seeing what makes the employee experience at Cimplifi special to her.
Marla: Hi Staci, it’s nice to spend some time with you today!
Staci: Thanks, Marla. It’s great to have a chance to give my perspective and share what I love about Cimplifi.
M: What brought you to Cimplifi?
S: I was a client! I was a project manager (PM) for a law firm that is still a Cimplifi client, one of our first subscription clients. When I left the firm, the Cimplifi team asked if I wanted to join their team, but the timing was not right for me. About a year later, I joined, and little did I know, or any of us know, that two months later the world would come to a stop due to the pandemic.
M: What was that like? Starting a new job and then having to deal with the pandemic working environment?
S: Starting a new job has its own challenges but the pandemic forcing us to all switch to remote work and then managing a team fully remotely brought new challenges. While most of the team was fine working remotely, a few team members did struggle with the isolation of the whole pandemic. It really made our management team step up and look at things in a different way to ensure we are connecting with different personality types beyond traditional considerations. Especially for people who are managing illness at home, or young family members, and multi-generational households. It required an extra level of empathy and attention to detail.
M: In such difficult and unprecedented times, I know the team was grateful to be able to rely on your leadership. I was just reading about empathetic leadership and it seems that you embraced that concept before it became a more widespread issue. What’s typical day like for you now that we are mostly back to normal?
S: My day is always changing, so it is hard to describe a typical day. I spend my time reviewing client requests and making sure that the PM team has the information they need to properly respond to clients and execute requests. I am also responsible for training and mentoring our PMs including working on professional development paths with them and helping the integrated teams (sales, review, PM, forensics) work more effectively and efficiently by developing new workflows or streamlining the workflows we have now.
M: What led you to pursue the career you have today?
S: Peg Gianuca, the eDiscovery technical solutions manager at Disney, she was the litigation manager at a law firm where I was an applications trainer. She saw my potential and brought me on to the litigation support team to help craft a training program for their eDiscovery support applications and she brought me along almost everywhere she went after that. Thank you, Peg!
M: That’s awesome. I have met Peg, through Zoom of course! I love hearing stories like this of people who identify good talent and take the time to create opportunities for them, especially women helping women. Who are some of your biggest inspirations at Cimplifi?
S: The first one that comes to mind is Ari Perlstein, our CTO – for his brilliance. He is the brains behind many of our Cimplifi innovations, and he has a way of using his incredible brain power to bring us non-geniuses along with him! Alison Ciaramitaro for her positive energy, professionalism, and willingness to help figure things out, and Renee Quezada for her guidance and mentorship as well as her sense of humor and positive energy.
M: Tell me more about the team you work with?
S: I LOVE my team! When new people come on and I introduce them, I often say, “this is one of my favorite people here,” and they laugh and say, “didn’t you just say that about the last person?” But it is true. I LOVE the collaboration and energy that we have on our team and that people are willing to jump in and help when you have a problem that you need to solve. I love helping team members grow and learn and eventually promote up and move on to other positions. Training people and helping them learn is my raison d’etre (reason for being).
M: Ohhh, French! Are you fluent?
S: No, I took Spanish and French in high school, so I know a few words of those languages and a few words of ASL (American Sign Language). I am learning ASL because my daughter is learning it as her foreign language in college, and we adopted a deaf dog named Butter and we are teaching him signs too! I am trying to fully learn ASL, but progress is slow. How about you, do you speak any foreign languages?
M: Well, I did take French from 6th grade through college and studied abroad in France. Unfortunately, I’ve lost most of my skills, but I can read a French menu very skillfully. Speaking of butter, I’ll order anything with beurre (butter)! Ok, back to the serious stuff. What has been your favorite project so far?
S: My favorite project has been hiring and developing team members from under-represented groups as part of our diversity outreach program. It has been exciting to watch team members with no background or knowledge in this space learn and grow and I have been so impressed. It’s rewarding to give opportunities to candidates that may not have traditionally been recruited for our work and to see them meet these challenges head-on and excel.
M: I applaud your efforts. Diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are near to my heart as well and I want to see those efforts grow and expand at Cimplifi and in our greater legal tech community. Tell me, where do you see yourself in five years?
S: I am torn between the idea of sitting on a beach drinking a Mai-Tai or continuing this work. All kidding aside, at Relativity Fest, I had some great discussions with the head of their academic outreach program, and we are making plans. We are discussing creating a semester long college class to help bridge the gap between what is taught in law schools and how people really practice law, specifically regarding litigation technologies and processes. I would like to extend that program to community colleges and inner-city high schools and offer certification programs to people who may not have the ability to go to college, but are still intellectually curious, and could be wonderful assets in our profession.
M: Staci, you are très impressionnant (very impressive)! Thanks for the chat today and I wish you the best with your academic outreach program.
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.