Mentor Spotlight: Sarah Zarling

Mentor Spotlight

To summarize Sarah's career journey in one line: MBA → Healthcare Administration (working from home before it was cool!) → Six Sigma & Project Management Certs (gotta love upskilling!) → Implementation Manager turned CX Ops @ Formstack (fell in love with low-code/no-code) → BizOps @ Lunchbox → ProdOps @ Color Health

Where are you currently located?

📍 Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, working remotely for a San Francisco based team

Describe yourself with 3 emojis 👇

👏 - This is a multi-faceted emoji for me… I love to call out excellence and celebrate wins wherever I see them! But sometimes you’ve also got to use your hands to MAKE 👏 A 👏 POINT 👏

💥 - BOOM! This is my “I just put the final touches on this {project/presentation/deliverable} and I am done” vibe.

🌮 - I am a native Texan, and I can’t get enough tacos. I am made of approximately 25% taco at this point.

Career Pivots

What prompted you to want to pivot industries?

During my time in the Healthcare Administration space, I was exposed to a lot of super cool, early stage low-code/no-code solutions (think OG Airtable and Zapier). I was so pumped about the possibilities of these new tools & solutions that when one of the companies that I worked closely with - Formstack - had an opening that I qualified for, I jumped at the opportunity!

What was the interview process like?

It had a skills-based assessment project, and I was self-taught up to that point - I was definitely nervous! I stayed up all night a few nights in a row to make sure everything was perfect. Turns out, I went way overboard and provided way more detail/content then they had intended for the project - but at least I made an impression!

What surprised you about pivoting from the healthcare industry to tech?

The pace! I thrive in fast-paced environments, where your only limitation is how fast you can build something. Healthcare administration is anything but fast-paced - there’s red tape, processing time, and a general lack of hurry. My experience in the tech/SaaS space has been brimming with engaging collaboration, high-touch activity, and rapid velocity (we literally sprint!). Change and evolution are the only constant in early- to mid-stage tech companies, and I thrive when I am able to shape and drive those changes. Balancing the “move fast and break things” mentality with “slow down and fix things” is a delicate balance in the tech industry, and a tolerance for ambiguity and competing priorities is desirable.

The Commons

What is your favorite part about being a mentor?

The opportunity to see everyone’s growth and development over the course of a sprint! It’s amazing to watch mentees actively absorb new information and use those skills to present an astounding end-of-sprint project.

Also connecting with other mentors! It’s been great to network and find other individuals who are in a similar spot in their career.

What's your favorite way to keep involved with the community (aside from mentoring)?

The events calendar! There is so much programming - everyone can find something that they’re interested in. I’ve also had the pleasure of hosting a session (about low-code/no-code, what else), and it’s a great opportunity to sharpen those presentation skills.

Tell us about Color Health!

What's you role?

I’m currently a Senior Product Operations Manager at Color Health, which supports what we call the “D2PE” org (Design, Data, Product, Engineering). My role is very cross-functional. I work with stakeholders from other parts of the business to plan and implement D2PE-adjacent initiatives. My team anchors on unlocking velocity and enabling innovation, and I especially focus on designing or optimizing internal processes and systems.

What's a cool project you've had the opportunity to work on?

Project Objective: Support Operations Salesforce Optimizations

Project Overview: Our goal for this initiative was to identify & implement solutions that would improve efficiency when responding to and resolving Cases assigned to the support team. We allotted a quarter to bring as many low-effort, high-impact solutions to life as possible.

Your Role: Project Manager

What made working on this project so rewarding? This was a highly visible and cross-functional project, with a lot of stakeholders and competing priorities in play. The solutions we implemented directly impacted all of our support team’s day-to-day efficiency, but we had to be very intentional about rolling out changes in the least disruptive way possible. Final result? We decrease average case resolution time by a whopping 39% percent.

What's a fun perk you get working at your company?

We started as a genetics product (similar to 23&me, but more of a focus on healthcare insights) - when you start at Color, you get 4 genetic testing kits for you and your family!

Any words of wisdom for someone looking to make a similar career move to the one you made? 

Always take time to invest in yourself - your skills, your mental health, your family.

Some fun stuff!

Your favorites:

📚 Book: Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

🎨 What you're doing outside of work: Learning to knit

🌟 A leader you admire: Melinda Gates

A handy shortcut: ChatGPT

3 fun facts about you:

📈 I absolutely love creating flow charts.

🖖 I am a huge Star Trek fan, and Next Gen is the best of the best (don’t @ me).

☕ I’m a mom of three littles (4, 6, and 7) - yes I’m always tired, no I don’t think it gets easier, and yes that is definitely my children playing kazoo in the background of the Zoom call!

Interested in operations roles in tech? Hone the skills you need to succeed in the Strategy & Operations Sprint, and receive 1:1 mentorship from Sarah!

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