FinTech Female Fridays: Meet VP of Marketing, Shanna Leonard
Employees at a startup are so energized and focused on building the company, working hard, and making an impact that they lose sight of their stock options and as a result, many find that it becomes too expensive to own and manage shares in the company they helped build. Shanna Leonard, VP of Marketing at Secfi, is helping the company promote and offer tools, tech, and financing to help solve this problem. Shanna and her team are working with employees and executive teams to bring equity education programs and financing to the startup community.
Full name: Shanna Leonard
Current job title: VP of Marketing
Current company: Secfi
Current location: San Francisco
"I’ve learned that I’m at my best when I’m positive and surround myself with positive influences in all aspects of life."
Starting her career with Dow Jones as an event marketing intern during college, Shanna has now spent over 20 years learning and working in multiple aspects of marketing (ie, growth, content, events, field marketing, communications, brand, integrated campaigns). Much of her career was spent working for large, financial brands but during the past 5 years, she has transitioned into the world of FinTech realizing that she thrives working in startup cultures and building anew despite the ambiguity.
Shanna is currently leading the marketing team for Secfi. Secfi is a platform focused on helping startup employees understand, maximize, and unlock the value of their stock options and shares. “I have the pleasure of helping the startup community understand and secure the much-needed financing to own their stock options. I found Secfi serendipitously, actually.”
With the goal of democratizing equity and empowering startup employees, Secfi’s mission is to help startup employees make life-changing financial decisions, starting with their stock options. “While Secfi was founded in 2017, we’re only now starting to accelerate marketing efforts and I was the first marketing hire to join the team. Though now, I am joined by a killer team of marketers and we are moving and shaking! My approach is to build the fundamentals (ie, our brand strategy and vision) while also executing now (rapidly growing our business!). My goals are three-fold: drive awareness and credibility for Secfi, build the growth engine, and deliver a stellar client experience from the moment someone hears about Secfi until they become a client - and beyond.”
Through her personal experiences, Shanna realized the importance of learning how to execute stock options. “I left a startup and took a year off when I had my daughter. When you leave a startup and have stock options, you generally have 90 days to exercise them (and it can be very expensive). I fumbled my way through learning the nuances and it was a stressful situation - and as a brand new mom, this stress wasn’t exactly welcomed. I wish I had been more educated about equity and this is exactly what we do at Secfi.”
Having been fortunate enough to have mentors through her career, especially in the earliest days, Shanna learnt to have an open mind and embrace the world of possibilities. “One of my first managers, Simon, insisted I move from NJ to the NYC office to kick off my career. I had no idea what I was doing but his spark of encouragement launched me into an entirely new world. About a year later, I found myself falling in love with San Francisco while at an event with the same company. Lisa, my manager at the time, carved out a new role for me in San Francisco and encouraged me to get my MBA. San Francisco has been my home for more than 20 years! Both Simon and Lisa took a chance on me. I’m so grateful to them for influencing my life and career in such a meaningful way. And I hope I am able to carry this forward to others.”
More on Shanna
Currently living in: San Francisco
Family at home: My husband and 2-year old daughter
Hometown: New Jersey
Favorite hobby: Hiking - and being in nature (I’m really missing travel adventures right now - due to COVID).
Favorite part of your day: Dinner with my family.
Favorite show to binge: I rarely watch anything twice. But Curb Your Enthusiasm cracks me up.
5:30 am: Slowly wake to the alarm, scan emails/slack to make sure all is good, hop in the shower and get organized for the day. I am so LUCKY that my husband is a coffee connoisseur and happily makes a mean carafe of coffee for us (not to mention he gets our daughter’s lunch ready!).
7:00 am: Good morning to Sybil. The outside world stops and the baby is the center of our universe.
8:00 am: Downstairs in the office, deep into meetings (sometimes with yogurt in my hair). I love working from home because I’m eating breakfast with my family at 7:59 and in an important work conversation at 8:00 am. Context switching is a real thing!
12:00 pm: I’m still in meetings. I realize I’m hungry and didn’t drink enough water...time to take 5 minutes to fix that! And back to work.
2:00 pm: Outside for a quick workout. I just bit the bullet and scheduled time with a trainer in my neighborhood to get me out of the house during the day (that scheduled accountability is super helpful to me!).
3:00 pm: Back online, this time, I have my calendar blocked out, Slack messages paused and spend the next 1.5 hours working on my punch list. I’m generally pretty productive right after a midday workout to try to take advantage of this time to write, plan or move the ball on bigger projects.
4:45 pm: Frantically race out of the house to pick up the baby while trying to respond to emails/slacks that I missed or are incoming.
5:15 pm: Work pauses for family time (this is my hard boundary!).
7:30 pm: The baby is in bed. I pour a glass of wine, decompress for a moment, catch up with my husband, eat (if haven’t done so already).
8:00 pm: Back online to wrap up the day.
10:00 pm: Bed.
5:30 am: Is it Saturday yet?! Similar to the rest of the week, I wake early to get organized for the day.
7:00 am: Quick hello to my daughter as she wakes and off I go downstairs for an early start to the day. I generally start earlier on Fridays to have more overlap with my colleagues in Amsterdam as they close out their week. I spend a few minutes organizing my priorities for the day.
8:00 am: Company All Hands.
10:00 am: Marketing Team Meeting.
12:00 pm: Grab a bite and connect with good people. I try to carve out time each week to reach out to colleagues or former colleagues to see what they are up to. In recent weeks, I’ve been trying to schedule walks and talks.
1:00 pm: Meetings, 1:1’s, digging into the giant task list and also regretting that I left an incredibly important project that requires a lot of brain power for a Friday afternoon.
4:30 pm: Rewrite my punch list, frantically answer emails.
4:45: Race out the door to pick up my daughter.
5:15 pm: Family time.
7:30 pm: Dinner delivery (something rich and delicious - calories don’t count on Fridays).
9:00 pm: Settle down to watch something entertaining on TV.
10:00 pm: Bed.
Reach out to Shanna on LinkedIn