The area of operations brings me memories of successful moments but also jam-packed days. I took this role when I co-founded an educational subscription box for kids two years ago. Getting that position allowed me to learn many things on the fly, as I did not have any previous knowledge about it. Overall, I did a good job, but I also made mistakes. For this reason, my goal is to immerse myself in this business area, become an expert, and get a job in operations with a Praxis business partner. I interviewed Haley Pratt for learning more about her experience. She is an operations specialist at the Institute of Humane Studies, a Praxis graduate, and successful in her role.
What does the role entail in terms of day to day activities?
HP: Operations can be a lot of different things. The role I am currently in is working with our funding program, giving scholarships and grants to college students. What I do day to day, is everything from the decision of the scholarship per grant and everything after that. I communicate with students and faculty through email, I manage five email inboxes a day, plus my own. So basically, that’s my top priority because obviously, we want to have great customer service, so it is a lot of customer service as well. I also submit and get everything for payments. I send people text forms, and payment forms, any kind of contract they might need through Salesforce. This is a software I use every day as well. Besides this, I role up timelines for our founding programs and make sure that we are set up for the standards that we have to meet. So I also work on a lot of standards documents.
What does it take to be successful in this role?
H.P: I mainly learned this through the last section of my apprenticeship with this company. If you want to be successful in operations, you need to be highly, highly organized. Another important thing is over-communicating things to your supervisors and to anyone you work with, especially when working on things that need money. Organization and communication are definitely two key things for an operations position because you are working with a lot of different people and teams, and you have to know what you are talking about and when to and when not to tell people about certain things.
Do you also organize schedules for other people in your team?
H.P: I specifically do not organize schedules, the main thing that would be close to that would be timelines for our funding program. So basically, assigning tasks to other people in our timelines, but usually, those are tasks that are already noted to that person. It is more about actually having a set up time for them and I use Assana for that.
Why is this particular role important to the overall health and success of the business?
HP: Part of my role is to give scholarships to students, that is a huge part of what we do and how we help people. The main goal of this institution is to spread the classical liberal traditions, basically, through higher education. I think my operations role is essential, if I did not do what I do now, none of the money would go to those students. That is very specific though, but I definitely think it is a very important role and I was lucky to be placed in it, and having all these responsibilities I was trusted with. You really have to be on top of your steps in an operations role.
What are the hardest parts about the role?
H.P: There are a lot of difficult parts, a huge one used to be organizations for me. I always thought of myself as a very organized person and I always have my work documented, but doing it for a company is different.
Another hard part of my job is relying on other people to get back to me, for example: if I'm talking with a student about their award, or whether or not they’re getting their money on time, or something went wrong; I have to ask our finances department what’s happening, because I can not look into that, I have no permission to do that. So, just waiting for other people to get back to me so that I can communicate with students, can be difficult.
Communicating with students and faculty and waiting on other people’s responses and waiting on other people to be fast. That is another huge thing about communication. Communication in all teams is crucial because we are all depending on each other to get our tasks done.
On the other hand, the hardest part probably is managing all inboxes, because you need to make sure that everything is taken care of in a timely manner, we want to respond within 24 hours, not 48. It’s very challenging but it can be very rewarding as well.
What are the most rewarding parts about this role?
H.P: There are actually a lot of rewards in this position. Our company helps people do research projects they have wanted to do for a long time, and Ph.D. students to actually have money for their tuition. We give them flight tickets for going to conferences, and important events. We have these things come in stories in our newsletter and a lot of them are for our funding program. All the people I talk to will send me thank you notes, and things like that, it is very rewarding to see how it actually changes their lives. Some people say that they wouldn’t be where they’re today without the support of the founding program or without the Human Studies scholarship. When I feel tired in a work session and I feel like I do not want to do anything at that moment, I look through the newsletter again, and I see how I am helping to change lives and do good in the world. I get inspired in that way, That is very rewarding.
While I was talking with Haley, I noticed how passionate she feels about what she does in her job. She inspired me to pursue this position from a different perspective, thinking not only about how I can do a great job, but how my everyday tasks and responsibilities impact other people’s lives. Doing this interview made me feel excited about all the new things I’m discovering about operations and training myself to succeed.