WeAreTheCity talks career journeys, shaping the next generation & advice with Hopin’s female leaders

Three cheerful businesswomen walking together in an office

At Hopin, two-thirds of the c-suite is female, including Chief Operating Officer, Wei Gao, Chief Customer Officer, Rosie Roca, and VP of People, Sarah Manning

To mark Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, WeAreTheCity spoke to the women executives and leaders at Hopin as they reflected on their career journeys to this point and shared how their experiences can help shape the next generation of leaders in the workforce, as well as some advice for any aspiring young professionals. 

Wei Gao

Chief Operating Officer, Hopin

Wei Gao is Chief Operating Officer at Hopin, the leading shared experiences platform that enables immersive and interactive connection from anywhere. In her role, Wei leads operations at one of the fastest growing companies and oversees innovation of Hopin’s shared experiences platform.

Prior to Hopin, Wei was Vice President of Amazon Grocery and served as Technical Advisor to Jeff Bezos. In her nearly 16 years at Amazon, Wei delivered significant improvements to customer experience and business performance in eCommerce, Kindle, and Supply Chain Technologies. She brings deep expertise in organizational transformation, data-driven decision making, and intelligence-based automation.

Wei is a member of the Pacific Science Center Board, the Board of Visitors at the School of Information and Library Science at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and previously served on the Robert Chinn Foundation Board. Wei is a champion for DEI as she was an executive advisor of Asians-at-Amazon affinity group, and in 2019 was recognized as “Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Tech” by the National Diversity Council.

Wei received her bachelor’s degree in Finance from the Nankai University and her master’s degree in Information Science from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

What advice would you give individuals first starting their professional journeys, and how do you continue to grow and develop well into your career?

For those just starting out, my advice is to say yes. This is an important time to gain experience and really get a feel for what interests you. Stay open and take advantage of new learning opportunities. Even at this stage in my career, I am striving to learn something new every day. It’s key to take the time to seek new information and engage with new people who bring fresh perspectives and ideas into your daily routine. 

Rosie Roca

Chief Customer Officer, Hopin

As Chief Customer Officer at Hopin, Rosie leads the customer success team as they meet and exceed customers’ expectations in bringing their events and shared experiences to life on Hopin. 

Before joining the team at Hopin, Rosie was SVP, Salesforce Essentials Customer Experience. She graduated from Harvard University in 2007, after which she went on to study an MBA at Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

What’s a leadership lesson you’ve learned that might be unique to your experience?

First, run to the hard problems. They’re great environments for accelerating learning and growth – both personal and professional. Second, find the shiny and bright in everything you do. For leaders, it’s about how to enable their teams to do this on their own and across the business.

Sarah Manning

VP of People, Hopin

Sarah Manning leads the global People team at Hopin. Having worked in large corporations and rapid growth startups, she deeply understands HR strategy and processes and the importance of adapting these based on a company’s size, scale and growth plans. With experience from acquisitions and geographic expansions to employee engagement, culture and leadership, she thrives in driving an organisation’s growth and success through curating the best possible employee experience.

Having worked with executive leaders around the globe and her own teams based across multiple continents, she is a passionate leader and strong communicator. With her bachelors degree in Business and further qualifications in Employment Law, Coaching and Executive Leadership, she has spent almost 20 years leading high performing teams and working across all facets of People/HR.

As a leader, how do you stay mindful of building a diverse workforce? 

With the rise of remote work and virtual tools, it’s easier than ever to attract and retain talent across geographies and demographics. It is on us, as leaders, to make sure we’re utilizing the right recruiting tools that democratize access to the workforce, while building onboarding programs that enable people to bring their full selves to their profession. 

Bronagh Crowley

VP of Sales, StreamYard, Hopin

Bronagh Crawley is VP of Sales, Streamyard at Hopin, where she helped grow Hopin’s sales team and customer base before transitioning to lead Streamyard. She now drives the growth of Streamyard’s sales team as they provide a live streaming studio to Hopin users all over the globe. 

Before joining Hopin in 2020, Bronagh held sales roles at Selina, Adyen and Web Summit. Bronagh received her bachelor’s degree in Civil Law from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and her master’s degree in International Relations from Dublin City University.

What advice do you have for women who want to be leaders, particularly in a male-dominated sales industry (women make up only 29% of sales reps and just 26% of sales managers)?

Don’t wait to be asked for your opinion, to apply for a promotion, or to join a meeting – sometimes you need to bring your own chair to the table. If someone tells you no one likes an ambitious woman – don’t believe them. Finally, be the mentor you never had – the best way to bring change is by empowering the women around us. 

Irene Liu

Chief Legal Officer, Hopin

Irene Liu is Chief Legal Officer at Hopin, the leading shared experiences platform. She is an expert on topics ranging from government engagement strategies and risk management to AI, data privacy, and diversity.

Irene is a regular speaker on topics ranging from government engagement strategies and risk management to AI, data privacy, and diversity. She is a frequent writer and contributor to the Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute and writes a blog series on “Using Your Platform for Good.” Prior to going in-house, Irene worked at the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, and the Federal Trade Commission in the Bureau of Consumer Protection.

What is one thing you now know that you wish you had known earlier in your career?

I wish I had known earlier on the power and value of fostering relationships and building internal and external networks. While it’s important to be heads down and focused on work, it’s also important to build relationships through 1-1s and time with peers and cross-functional partners as you navigate new roles and organizations. 

Lauren Sommers

Interim Chief Marketing Officer, Hopin

Lauren Sommers is the interim CMO at Hopin, the leading virtual experiences platform that is redefining how people connect around the globe. At Hopin, Sommers is responsible for Experiential Events, Partner Marketing and Customer Marketing. She has spent the majority of her career in the B2B SaaS industry with her tenure at companies like JDA Software, Marketo, App Annie and Gainsight.

Sommers’ passion is building human first connections through scaling large events, customer engagement and curating unique experiences in the field. Her superpower is intuition. Her intuition coupled with deep market insight and obsession with audience experiences have influenced her approach to building incredible brand awareness and engagement through live experiences.

When Sommers is not mastering the brand, she has her hands full spending time with her two sons (Jordan 1yrs old and Josh – 3yrs old) and her husband Jason in the Bay Area.

What advice would you give to the next generation of marketers who are now entering the workforce?  

Prioritize innovation and creating unique experiences that are authentic to your brand. Don’t be afraid to test new approaches but while doing so, don’t make old mistakes, make new ones to learn from. Continue to look forward and drive innovation and experiences, but also look in the rearview mirror on the great work that has paved the way for what excellence looks like today. 

About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.
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