Hasura leader excels thanks to Viva EA’s proactiveness
Startup executives are constantly being pulled into too many directions. While it happens to every exec, some can feel overwhelmed by the task of prioritizing competing responsibilities and delegating. This feeling can be mitigated by getting help from an executive assistant.
Here’s how a leader at Hasura started to get two steps ahead of her to-do list, thanks to her EA’s proactiveness.
Table of contents
- What is Hasura?
- An EA for an ever-evolving leader
- An EA will make sure you don’t drop the ball
- Our EAs operate with a sense of urgency
- Proactive vs reactive
What is Hasura?
Hasura is a backend-as-a-service technology that enables database consolidation in milliseconds for its renowned customers, including Philips Healthcare, Airbus, Pipe, and many others.
Investors like Greenoaks, Nexus Venture Partners, Vertex Ventures, and Lightspeed Venture Partners made it possible for Hasura to raise $136.5 million in its Series C funding round, reaching a total valuation of $1 billion and entering India’s unicorn club.
An EA for an ever-evolving leader
Marion Schleifer has been working at Hasura for more than four years, a higher than the average tenure for startups. The reason? Marion doesn’t stand still, and even though she’s been at the same company for quite some time, she hasn’t held the same job title for too long. She joined Hasura as a developer, soon transitioned to head of documentation and operations, and recently established herself as a team leader by taking the position of head of developer education.
Marion is eager to learn, move forward, and evolve, and to keep doing so, she reached out to Viva, seeking a business partner she could trust. She was looking for someone who would understand her needs and pain points, someone to whom she could delegate not only admin work but high-impact projects, someone who would move as fast as she does.
Stef, her executive assistant, has proven to be as proactive as it gets and as easy to work with as any leader would hope to find. “I cannot imagine anyone better. I was actually very skeptical in the beginning but it was definitely worth it.”
An EA will make sure you don’t drop the ball
It doesn’t matter how organized you are or how on top of things you try to be, there is always something that can fall through the cracks. Even leaders as organized as Marion can benefit greatly from an A-player like an executive assistant. Stef’s approach is proof that even the most responsive leaders could use an extra hand.
Stay on top of your Slack
When Stef started supporting Marion, she noticed she was very responsive and that her email seemed to be in check, so Stef decided to look further to identify Marion’s pain points.
She took a deep dive into Marion’s Slack and started going through all of her channels. She found unspotted mentions, unanswered messages, and relevant information her leader would want to have at hand. In doing so, Stef made sure Marion was completely up to date with all her communications and as a result, her team wasn’t left hanging, – most importantly – from that moment on, Marion knew that Stef had her back and would never let her drop the ball, not even a single unanswered Slack message.
Get acquainted with your new role
After serving as head of documentation and operations at Hasura, Marion was offered a new opportunity: head of developer education. Her eagerness to learn and grow came through again as she took the job, even though it came with a truly remarkable challenge: taking on a new team while still leading her old one. That meant she had to learn the ropes of her new role and make sure none of her team members felt neglected.
Her executive assistant rose to the occasion and played a big part in making the transition smooth for everyone: “She is helping me keep the docs team productive while dealing with the new team.”
Take things off your plate
There are so many ways in which you could spend your day because no matter how many hours you put in, there is always something else you could take on, but if you truly want to operate as an executive, you need to focus on strategic work. What happens with all the side projects that may not be priorities, but have a certain degree of importance? That’s the perfect moment to leverage your EA for more than admin work.
For Marion, building Hasura’s social media was important, but not as pressing as leading two teams and immersing in her new functions. That’s why she couldn’t have been more relieved when Stef offered to work on the company’s social media strategy. Stef took full ownership of Hasura’s digital presence: from strategy to posting and monitoring all content on several platforms.
Our EAs operate with a sense of urgency
At Viva, we pride ourselves on how fast we operate, and we expect the same from our EAs. More than hoping they are as fast as we need them to be, we make sure they operate with a sense of urgency in everything they do. That’s why this is an essential part of our screening process and exactly how we’ve found A-players like Stef: the most proactive and responsive business partner you can find.
Move fast and break things
Stef’s proactiveness has always played a big role in her journey as an executive assistant, and this has proven to be true many times in her role as Marion’s EA. On one occasion, just when Marion got promoted, Stef saw an upcoming meeting between Marion and Hasura’s CEO, and acted on her instinct without giving it a second thought: she collected information, gathered insights based on the nature of the meeting, and put together a deck for Marion to present to the CEO.
This happened without Marion even asking for it, and thanks to Stef’s sense of urgency, Marion had a good first draft to work with, saving her time and cognitive overload. “If there’s anything else she can help with, she will find it herself.”
Given that most of our EAs are located in Latin America, there is always time zone alignment to be sorted out between them and their executives, most of whom are based in the United States. Marion is the exception to the rule; she is based in Switzerland, which means there is an 8-hour time difference between exec and EA.
A good enough EA would struggle with that, but an exceptional one, like Stef, would never let a time zone misalignment become a bottleneck. Stef’s driver mindset allows her to take complete ownership in turning problems into solutions and ideas into outcomes.
After more than a year of working together, Stef knows Marion’s working preferences and communication style inside and out, so much so that she makes an active effort to think like her leader in order to make the same decisions Marion would make. Using async communication has been instrumental in building trust, and Stef always keeps Marion notified. Marion doesn’t need to ask about the progress of a specific task because Stef always keeps her in the loop. “If I’m out and something starts burning, I know she will reach out to me on WhatsApp.”
A good EA has their executive as their number one priority, but a great EA knows their executive’s team is also important. Stef has developed a good relationship with not only Marion’s team but also other folks at Hasura. She planned two offsites in different countries and established monthly socials to promote team cohesion. Marion’s words are a clear reflection of the team’s sentiment: “She is very popular amongst the team because she is so cheerful and helpful. Everybody likes her.”
Proactive vs. reactive
Not all leaders are like Marion. Some execs may have a hard time delegating so many high-impact chores, and not everyone is comfortable sharing sensitive information or granting access to personal communication channels such as email and Slack. The reasoning behind Marion ceding so much control is not just that it’s in her nature; Stef has earned it with her creativity, proactiveness, and integrity.
Every time Stef proposed a new approach and delivered outstanding results, Marion’s confidence grew, to a point where she delegated the aspects of her work she was less willing to handle herself, such as social media. “I don’t know how to do some things and I also don’t want to know.”
Some of our EAs have proactively taken over tasks such as:
- Onboarding new team members
- Send reminders via email/Slack of external events happening
- Find time on new hires’ calendar, create 1:1, and explain how to use folders or programs
- Spot updates, turn them into action items, and add them as calendar events
Six answers your EA should have to help increase your productivity
To ensure your partnership with an EA is successful, there are six critical aspects they should have full visibility on. If you want to make sure your executive assistant knows and understands your needs and preferences, make sure they have the answers to all these questions:
- Q: What’s your role in the company?
A: Provide them with a copy of the actual job posting.
- Q: What are your responsibilities based on your position and industry?
A: Make a list from most to least important and attribute a level of difficulty to each.
- Q: Are there any gaps between what you should do and what you’re actually doing?
A: Identify which ones have you neglected over time.
- Q: Can your EA take charge of the things that fall in that gap?
A: Delegate the ones that are long overdue and catch up.
- Q: Is there one project you want to delegate so you can focus on high-priority work?
A: Our CS team can coach your EA so they can execute it without taking any of your time
- Q: What is your preferred way of communication? Sync, async, or a mix.
A: Ensure your EA knows where to find you and how to communicate. They’ll do so in a timely manner.
As a startup leader, you may not personally execute some projects, but your entire team and the company’s performance depend largely on your input. See how this EA helped her executive hold her entire team accountable.