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A Day in The Life of a Chief of Staff in Tech

[fa icon="calendar"] 01-Mar-2024 08:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva

a day in the life of a chief of staff

I've been a Chief of Staff for close to two years but I've held similar positions in the past without the title. 

People often ask me "What is it that you actually do?"

Chief of Staff roles have become popular over the last few years, especially in tech. Many of the big companies have a Chief of Staff for all of their SVPs and above, and some even for VP and above. 

I find the Chief of Staff role quite unique depending on who the executive is that you support. I'm lucky to have an amazing leader who I work with hand in hand which allows me to learn and grow. 

But back to the question about what is it that a Chief of Staff does every day. Let me go through a day in my life, however, before I begin I have to say that the Chief of Staff job is so versatile and frankly not every day is the same because the role itself relies on the ability to pivot, adjust and be flexible pretty much all the time as there are often last-minute fires to be put down. So I will focus on explaining the key daily responsibilities. 

A Day in the Life of a Chief of Staff in Tech

My job as a Chief of Staff has a lot to do with building and protecting the brand of my leader internally and externally as well as driving some of the key business priorities for our region. This means there needs to be a lot of trust between you and your executive

Consider a Chief of Staff to be the go-to person for the leader you support around pretty much anything - operations, comms, alignment with others, internal projects, customer meetings etc. The role is all about efficient execution through a lot of influencing and relationship-building. It's also strategic as you need to be a good planner. For example, it's my responsibility to decide where my executive spends her time and that includes any internal and external meetings and activities as well as where she travels, when, why and who she meets or not. 

Communication skills are absolutely critical as often the larger comms to the rest of the org on behalf of your leader are planned and created by you (meetings, emails etc). But also because you are often responsible for planning and running all strategic meetings and QBRs of the regional leadership team so you need to have a good understanding of the business itself and what decisions need to be made. 

As a Chief of Staff, you also serve as a listening board and ideas generator and the coordinator around what needs to get done even if you are not the one supposed to execute it which makes following up and through critical. Juggling is a bit of the norm for this role and you need to be really good at quickly changing direction and doing a lot of things in a short amount of time. Efficiency and effectiveness are both a must in this job. 

Finally, you can only be successful in this role if you build a large network of stakeholders across the entire organisation and know who you need to go to for what quickly. I have spent a lot of time getting to know key stakeholders I need to work with and I am now very well aligned with other Chiefs of Staff in the organisation as well as the rest of the leadership and their teams across the region. This helps me quickly execute with the help of others so we collectively drive business results. 

Now, speaking of my day, it usually always begins by tackling the urgent priorities that I have planned for the day and/or that have come along during the night while my US colleagues were still working. I also often talk to my executive about urgent and important topics so we align on what we have to do or plan for. 

Most Chiefs of Staff are lone wolfs without direct reports and their line of responsibility lies on internal topics only. My role has grown in the last few months so I now have an amazing team reporting to me to collectively tackle a larger amount of work outside of just internal activities. We still support a multitude of internal programs and projects that are often coming from our global teams and need to be executed for our region, but we also look after all external customer and partner engagements for our executive and we drive her thought leadership. 

Afternoons for me tend to be filled with meetings - either 1:1s, project meetings or leadership meetings as there are times when I need to jump in on behalf of my leader. The reason why you need to be good at tackling things quickly is because your day is usually so filled with meetings that you have very little time to actually do work and be productive.

What I find most challenging in this role is that there is always something urgent and last-minute coming up no matter how well you try to plan in advance. So throughout the day, I have blocks of time that are free for people to call me, ping me and are for me to tackle anything coming our way unexpectedly. People say you cannot multitask, but really in this job, you have to. 

The best thing about this role is that it's so versatile and it gives you an incredible amount of understanding and visibility into the entire business as well as allows you to build powerful relationships with key leaders across the company. All of this can position you really well for your next role - either operational again or in the business itself. 

Ultimately, every Chief of Staff role is different but the key skills to succeed in it are strategic thinking, relationship building, communication skills, interpersonal skills, planning and organisational skills, flexibility and adaptability. 

I'm forever grateful for the trust given to me to make this role my own at ServiceNow and even more so for the people I've met and that I work with every day. 

And there you have it - the life of a Chief of Staff in tech. 



Topics: Personal Development, Work Experience, Technology, Career, Leadership

Iliyana Stareva

Written by Iliyana Stareva

Iliyana Stareva is the author of Inbound PR - the book that is transforming the PR industry. She's also a keynote speaker and a consultant in inbound and digital for fast-growing companies and agencies. Currently, Iliyana is Chief of Staff to the EMEA President at ServiceNow. Before that, she held global and EMEA-wide positions at Cisco and HubSpot. She is also certified by the PMI as a Project Management Professional (PMP)®. In her free time, you can find Iliyana writing for her blog, dancing salsa or travelling the world.

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