Kirsten Maas Helvey is Chief Operating Officer at Cornerstone OnDemand, a $2.3 billion talent management software company based in Santa Monica, Calif.
Before Cornerstone, where Kirsten is responsible for overseeing all aspects of global business operations and global client experience, the tech executive was a member of the Supply Chain Operations Strategy Group at PwC and IBM Business Consulting Services. “My defining moment was taking a risk and leaving a corporate giant to jump aboard a start-up with 30 people,” said Helvey about her leap of faith aboard Cornerstone. “Taking that risk opened up a tremendous amount of opportunity to grow.”
The move to a tech startup wasn’t her first major switch up. Before business consulting, geared with a bachelor’s degree in English literature, Kirsten had started her career in marketing and public relations. Her experiences diving head first into fields she knew little about taught Kirsten the importance of being a continuous learner.
At the helm of the multi-billion-dollar cloud-based solutions provider, Helvey is focused on constantly practicing and improving upon her leadership skills.
In a post on Fortune titled “Why Scary Bosses Aren’t as Motivating as They Think,” Helvey focuses on three attributes she believes to be the most common among successful leaders – compassion, decisiveness and confidence.
The COO warns managers against jumping to negative conclusions if things don’t go according to plan, and highlights the importance of making speedy and sound decisions, particularly regarding the decision to keep someone on board or fire them after a short three months. “Trying to find a middle-road solution to appease all parties can end up with a compromise that leaves no one happy,” adds Helvey. As a female boss in a traditionally male dominated industry, Kirsten takes a unique approach to making sure she is exuding confidence to her team, indicating that “real confidence comes from humility.”
She highlights Apple’s Tim Cook as an inspiration of someone who demonstrates honesty, transparency and openness about his and the company’s successes and missteps, and in return assures both consumers and shareholders that he is the best person to lead the tech behemoth.
Kirsten is also a member of Women in Technology International (WITI) and serves on the board of Junior Achievement of SoCal.