A Rhythm of Operational Excellence: Q&A with Veda’s Chief People Officer, Sne Patel
As Veda’s Chief People Officer, Sne oversees culture, leadership coaching, internal communications, and Veda’s people operations team. Sne is passionate about clear communication, rigorous prioritization, and building an environment that supports growth and development. Read on for details on how Sne creates a rhythm of operational excellence in the workplace; plus, get her favorite book recommendations.
You joined Veda in August 2021, what excited you about working here?
There were three extremely clear signs during my first conversation with Meghan Gaffney (Veda’s CEO).
- Meghan and I had an immediate connection as we discussed what type of environment we wanted to create. She had a very clear-eyed view of what a people-first organization should look like, and was honest about the fact that she wasn’t sure how to get us there through a rapid growth stage where her focus needed to be on growing the bottom line. We talked about places where we had worked that were less than encouraging or inclusive to people of color and women. We covered toxic culture, how it gets started, why it is allowed to perpetuate, and the pervasive impacts of working in that type of environment. We both wanted to encourage an environment that fosters curiosity and coaching, allowing people to say “I don’t know but I am eager to learn.”
- I wanted to be a part of a company that believed human resources was more than just a transactional policy enforcer. Meghan was willing to state, with vulnerability, that she was struggling to know where to start the work of building the culture we both wanted and that she needed a true thought partner whom she could trust to lead with a commitment that matched her own. Having a CEO who truly embraces an experienced and passionate people and culture voice at the table—objectively balancing the needs of our colleagues with the need to run a healthy business—is in the company’s and the staff’s best interest.
- Business operations are something I thrive on—including building better processes to improve daily operations, making sure we have the right organizational structure, hiring the right people in the right seats to meet business objectives, and training and empowering leaders to make strong, thoughtful decisions. Of course, people and culture are a significant and beloved part of my job, but operational excellence is an area Meghan and I really wanted Veda to focus on from the beginning.
Working at a startup presents the unique opportunity to build skills quickly. In order to really allow employees to grow, the entire organization needs to embrace a culture of coaching. It is exciting to craft programs and systems that allow Vedans to learn how to give and receive the kind of feedback that can catapult them to the next phase in their careers.Sne Patel
What about your past experience positions Veda for success?
I am a business person who understands HR. A big part of my career has been building from scratch—teams, processes, and communications. Additionally, I started my own hotel business: finding property, securing franchises, approving architectural blueprints, and running operations. (I even had a customized Florida Gators hard hat for all the time I spent on construction sites!) As part of the lifecycle of building something brick and mortar, you have to think about the downstream and upstream impacts and how gaps in communication can impact the final result. I understand everything has a dependency and this is never more true than at startups where things change quickly. I’m always looking for opportunities to better a system, process, or communication pathway.
What are you passionate about fixing in the healthcare industry?
I am passionate about fixing inefficiencies in general, and that passion is well-placed when we think about the healthcare industry. Veda’s mission resonated with me from the start—using technology to help people help people. Veda has fundamentally changed how the healthcare system operates by developing AI solutions to complex provider data problems that industry insiders had once thought of as unsolvable. That type of innovation excites me. At Veda, we are using modern technology to dramatically reduce inefficiencies and unnecessary costs, which empowers healthcare businesses to modernize, and deliver better patient care and a streamlined healthcare experience for everyone. I can’t think of a better reason to show up each day and work collaboratively with my colleagues to realize Veda’s mission.
What is your ideal culture at Veda and how are you implementing it as our CPO?
Working at a startup presents the unique opportunity to build skills quickly. In order to really allow employees to grow, the entire organization needs to embrace a culture of coaching. It is exciting to craft programs and systems that allow Vedans to learn how to give and receive the kind of feedback that can catapult them to the next phase in their careers.
When that culture of coaching is combined with operational excellence across the organization we become great communicators, reduce tension, and minimize rework; we build a company that is both challenging and rewarding for employees. When we create a rhythm of operational excellence, everyone understands what the goals are for the company as a whole, their department, and their own individual focus. When we’re in sync, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish.
What has been the best part about working at Veda?
Well, purple is my favorite color! In all seriousness, I’ve worked at 10 different companies in my career and there is something special about the energy and authenticity of the people who work here. There is intelligence without ego and competency with kindness. Everyone is willing to go all in and to say “tell me what I’m not seeing; what do I need to know to make a better decision?” That curiosity is very appealing. We look for people who seek out actionable feedback, are self-aware, and have a bias toward learning. I try hard to bring the best version of myself to work and others at Veda seem to be doing the same.
You’re known as a bookworm around Veda. What are some books you frequently recommend?
I take that reputation very seriously! Some of my favorites are Trillion Dollar Coach by Bill Campbell. He has coached some of the most successful and influential technologists in the world and did it with a firm hand driven by a tender heart. To me, his approach embodies the powerful Brene Brown advice “Clear is Kind. Unclear is Unkind.”
Anything by Brene Brown, Simon Sinek, Esther Perel, and Adam Grant—be it books, articles, or videos—gets immediately consumed. They each have a different style and their philosophies around communication, compassion, and honesty are often good reminders that we are in control of our happiness and how we choose to respond to external forces. And I recommend grabbing Sanjay Gupta’s Keep Sharp: Build A Better Brain At Any Age to understand the science to elongate that control.
A few fiction books that have really stood out to me are Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (this one stays with you for weeks after), Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby (settle in for late nights as this one is addictive), and Yellowface by R. F. Kuang (I love a thriller). I’m always looking for solid recommendations!
What about music, what song do you know all the words to?
I love music. It has the power to evoke long-forgotten memories and so much emotion. I find myself singing Killing Me Softly With His Song by The Fugees or What You Won’t Do For Love by Bobby Caldwell at the most random moments. My Spotify is set to an eclectic mix of music spanning anywhere from It Runs Through Me by Tom Misch and De La Soul, to Lose My Cool by Amber Mark and Franc Moody, to Midnight in Harlem by Tedeschi Trucks Band.
What is the most used app on your phone?
As you now know, I love music so it’s probably Spotify!
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