In 2016, Faye Ricci was looking for a change.
She’d spent essentially the whole of her career up to that point as a lawyer focused on financial services. In 1994, right out of law school, she began representing major investment banks while working for one of Wall Street’s top law firms, Dewey Ballantine. She helped clients handle mergers, acquisitions, and other financial transactions while learning the intricacies of capital markets and structured finance. Then she took those skills in-house for CGA Investment Management Inc. In 2002, she moved to Seattle and worked at a number of law firms and investment banks—including JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America—and picked up additional experience in contract management, global securities, compliance, and software as a service.
However, “after the financial crisis in 2008 and the passage of Dodd-Frank in 2010, everything changed,” Ricci says. “Working in financial services went from being about finding value and opportunities for growth to being all about regulations, which wasn’t nearly as satisfying to me. It was time to do something different.”
It was in 2016 that she met the COO at Limeade. She was inspired by the company’s vision, innovative philosophy, and impressive growth trajectory. Founded in 2006, Limeade now has two hundred employees and counts the State of Washington, Mercury Insurance, Synopsys, and Brinker International among its customers. Its Limeade Engagement Platform is based on cutting-edge research by organizational psychologists, psychometricians, business insight experts, and data scientists. The platform combines employee well-being, engagement, social recognition, and inclusion solutions, and its related programs help Limeade clients transform their workplaces, increase productivity, improve morale, and reduce turnover.
Ricci, now vice president of legal at Limeade, details a few of the effective leadership strategies she has learned and embraced in her current position.
1) Find Out What Employees Need
Limeade’s platform is data driven, using HR data to develop business insights that help Limeade address employee well-being and engagement concerns. One customer might need to deal with issues involving night-shift workers; another might face problems surrounding repetitive tasks. “Working for a company that values the different needs of employees at every level has a profound impact on our clients and all of us who work here,” Ricci says. “The employees at Limeade are energized by our mission. I also want to help everyone who works here to be successful, not just in the performance of their job but in whatever is important to them.”
2) Encourage Innovation
Limeade’s research shows that to improve well-being, people need to feel they are valued, no matter their role in a company. To this end, Limeade holds internal events such as “Own It Day.” All employees are invited to present ideas to help improve the company’s products or services. The people recruit internal teams—usually made up of people from other departments—to help turn their ideas into reality. The company then votes, and the best ideas find their way onto the product development schedule.
Ricci’s legal team saw the annual event as a challenge to improve its own operations and ended up creating an automated system for legal requests. “The new system has increased the efficiency with which legal requests are handled,” she says. “It’s enabled everyone in the company to see not only where their particular request is in the queue but the volume of issues being handled by the legal team.”
3) Do Away with Walls
Limeade’s emphasis on teamwork has also influenced Ricci’s management style. “There are essentially no walls between departments here, which is incredibly beneficial, especially for a legal team,” she says. “Our primary job is to help the company make informed business decisions and manage risk. To do that, we need timely and relevant data, no matter where it is generated.”
Ricci and her team have weekly calls with sales and partner teams to make sure they understand all the priorities. “We also attend product meetings, drop in on coworkers to see what they’re up to, and encourage everyone to come to us whenever issues arise,” she adds.
Ricci says this is especially important when it comes to the IT department, given the complexities associated with electronic storage of client information. “Even though our compliance specialist sits in the IT department, I work very closely with her,” she says. “It’s another example of the seamless environment here.”
4) Look Beyond the Core Team
Ricci doesn’t limit herself to Limeade’s internal team. “We have outside counsel who are specialists in certain areas such as data-privacy regulation, partnerships, and reseller agreements,” she says.
Ricci considers Limeade’s customers part of her team, too. “They often ask us about industry trends or new data-security concerns,” she says. “Sometimes, the jurisdiction in which a customer operates passes a new law we need to be aware of. That’s why it’s extremely important that we have open and honest communication with everyone. This kind of mutual support and dialogue has expanded my understanding of what it means to all be on the same team.”
5) Be Proactive about Privacy
ince its founding, Limeade has followed the rules outlined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act because its platform handles personal health information. The company recently expanded its commitment to data privacy by earning certification from the Privacy Shield, which requires adherence to stringent data-privacy standards and transatlantic data transfers.
Having customers with a global employee base has also expanded Ricci’s responsibilities. “I took on the role of data-protection officer [DPO], in preparation for adherence to the General Data Protection Regulations, which went into effect May 25, 2018.” A DPO is responsible for overseeing data-protection strategy and implementation to ensure compliance with all relevant data-protection laws and regulations. “This reinforces the importance of me working extremely closely with our IT and data-security folks,” Ricci says. “It’s exciting how the Limeade team just keeps getting larger.”