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| 31 minutes read

CMO Series EP125 - Sona Spencer of Troutman Pepper on Being an Advocate for Talent

In a people-driven business like a law firm, talent isn't just important - it's the linchpin for success. In this episode of the Passle CMO Series Podcast, Eugene McCormick sits down with Sona Spencer, Chief Legal Talent Officer at Troutman Pepper, to explore her crucial role as a talent advocate and how talent becomes the driving force behind the firm's commercial achievements.

Sona and Eugene discuss:

  • How Sona came to her role at Troutman Pepper and the moment in her journey she realized how critical talent was to the success of the firm
  • The scope of Sona’s role as Chief Legal Talent Officer and how it connects to other functions such as HR
  • The main challenges facing talent within law firms and the key considerations including DEI and generational differences 
  • How to go about building a strategy for talent that will lead to success for the firm and its people
  • How the recent merger of the firm affects Sona’s role in the short and medium-term
  • The essential tools and skills of a talent officer
  • Advice for others looking to advocate for and unlock the potential of the talent at their firm



Eugene: Hello folks and welcome to another edition of the Passle CMO Series Podcast.

Now, in a people-driven business like law, the voice of talent is critical to the success and growth of the firm. Today on the CMO Series podcast we welcome Sona Spencer, Chief Legal Talent Officer at Troutman Pepper to discuss her role as an advocate for talent and how central talent is to the commercial performance of the firm. Sona, welcome to the Passle CMO Series podcast.

Sona: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Eugene: Pleasure, and for anyone listening, we're doing this in person. It's supposed to be with real microphones in a real podcast studio, but I may have forgotten a cable but we’ll gloss over that. 

Sona: In a real podcast studio, just not using any of the equipment. 

Eugene: Somebody forgot a cable, but we won't point any fingers. Now, for the benefit of the audience, how did you come to be in your role at Troutman Pepper and indeed, was there a moment in your career path where you thought okay, talent is the thing A, that I want to do and B, that this is actually critical to the success of the firm?

Sona: So as I tell people all the time, I am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. And I usually tell people that because I think there's so much pressure to have everything figured out starting when you're in university or just getting into the job market and the real point of it all is to enjoy the evolution. So I actually started out in law firms in business development, which I think would be of interest to your audience. And a lot of the work that I was doing then was obviously centered around clients, understanding what their needs were. Pitches, RFPs, proposals, chambers. You name it, I did it. And as I was doing that, what I was noticing was there is a ton of turnover in terms of the teams that we were sending in our RFPs. There was a lot of concerns around how we're gonna price this work. What are the things that we're going to do to make sure that this client feels happy with our service? How do we continue to add value? And my curious self, I'm actually a psychologist major, I started running back and looking at that thread and realizing there was a lot of things in the back of the house that we could do to try to improve our overall value to the client.

So as I was kind of working on that trying to think through what we were doing with our teams, what we were doing with pricing, how we were sort of running the business. This was also around the time that practice management started getting more popular in law firms. And I was actually named as one of the first practice directors at the Legacy Firm Troutman Sanders. That led me on a very interesting journey. At that time, there were four of us with an assistant trying to figure out, okay, what do we mean by practice management? What are the things that we should be doing? Getting to know all of these different administrative teams in the firm in a different way. My primary role was working with our department chair for the transactional group, which was corporate real estate and tax and benefits to figure out what were the needs amongst the different practice groups? What were the things that people needed? What were the things that we needed to be thinking about? Thinking ahead on strategy on financials, on making sure that we were bringing people together from a cultural perspective and then COVID hit. And so that completely changed the game in terms of what we were trying to focus on a lot of it became around, where are the people there at home? We need to be thinking about how we're gonna engage them and then we merged with another firm. So I went overnight from having I think 150 or so people in our department to 320. So more than double and trying to figure out how to connect people because the benefit of the merger was that we felt there was gonna be more we could do together than apart. And that meant connecting people in the middle of a pandemic while we were trying to merge two firms. So that obviously turned me to looking at talent and really trying to understand what motivates people. How do we get people connected, how do we do that in this sort of remote working environment, eventually hybrid working environment and now being more so back into the office. And as we were doing all of that, it naturally sort of led me into this role.

So going back to the beginning, it wasn't a plan, it certainly wasn't something I was thinking about and planning ahead and strategizing on how to get into this role. I think a lot of my career has been me trying to answer the call of what's needed because I'm really focused on how do we add value, how do I add value? How do the teams I work with add value? And as you seek that out opportunities happen, people used to say that to me and I'd be like, “no, come on you planned that.” But I can honestly say that it has been an organic evolution and that's made it all the more fulfilling for me to be in this role with these different pieces of background at different points in my law firm journey.

Eugene: I want to get on next to actually, you mentioned some really interesting bits there. But it just occurred to me it might be useful for our listeners to talk a little bit more because you mentioned talent. We've also spoken about hr can you just actually define a little bit more about your role is what's the difference? What is HR what is talent and what does actually that mean for your role? So from the outside looking in, and I think we were talking about this earlier, there's like this mirage effect. I think that a lot of different firms have different talent functions or hr functions in some firms, it's combined in other firms. It's not. And even in the firms where it's not, it can look very different at our firm, Troutman Pepper, I work very closely with our chief hr officer and she manages a lot of the talent needs on the staff and administrative side. I handle it on the attorney side of the house, but I am often quoted as saying, I am not HR I am very deferential on all bits of HR to our HR team who really understands the policy and procedure of it. What I've talked to our general counsel about is under the umbrella of talent at our firm. I manage our recruiting development, DEI, alumni and coaching teams. And what we really are is the life cycle of our attorney talent within the firm, as well as patent agents and some other administrative professionals who bill time. And what that means for us is that we're really looking at, how are we bringing people into the firm, attracting them to the firm? How are we developing them while they're here retaining them in addition? And then what happens when they leave? Are they still kind of part of our function? And I do believe that that's an important part and I know we'll talk a little bit more about that with the alumni function later. From a HR point of view, I really try to look at that as the employees' relationship with the firm. So for example, if we're working with HR on something we're recruiting someone in, they will handle all of the bringing the person into the firm, the onboarding. If we are managing someone out, they will handle a severance agreement, etc. So there's that employment relationship, but then we also partner in a lot of different ways on what are the ways that we can work together to ensure that we are bringing different philosophies to the firm across all of our talent pools. So DEI is certainly one where we work together a lot. We worked together a lot on learning opportunities. I think our goal, the two of us is to make sure that we're not duplicating efforts because all of it is talent. And I think that can look different depending on the firm. 

Eugene: I'm gonna wanna come on a little bit. You mentioned the merger. I want to come on to that in a few moments. But actually, I want to look back to just a few of the things you said. You mentioned attraction, you mentioned attention, you mentioned procedure, making sure people are happy and their employee relationship with the firm. What are the main challenges do you think in your role with talent that like a law firm faces? Is it the retention? Is it, you know, you mentioned DEI there's many considerations. What are the tricky bits? Where are you focusing your efforts on now and why?

Sona: Yeah, I definitely wouldn't say there's one thing that's for sure. I think that all of us in this industry in the world are really looking at the way that we work. And what does that mean? For talent, I think the biggest thing is how do you really hone in on the voice of your talent? What collectively are you hearing from talent? And how does that drive your strategy? So it can look different, depending on the time it can look different, depending on the climate. We've certainly had a lot of different um crises that we've all been dealing with just in the world. And that has an impact on how people show up to work. It's also about recognizing what the things that we can do to ensure that we have our high performance culture, one of the pillars of our strategic plan and ensure that people feel that they're being acknowledged and rewarded in that culture and how do we do that? So a lot of my time is spent on listening and not necessarily listening in terms of, I talk to every single person in the firm, but looking at the different ways that we can listen besides just having a conversation. So that can include data mining, looking at self evaluations as if, for instance, are we seeing a theme across all fourth years. Are we seeing certain things that are being discussed in a certain practice group? How do we tie that to attrition data? How do we tie that to recruiting data and tell a story about what's going on and segment that based on the population that we're talking about? If you think about the law firm model in general and what lawyers are taught, precedent is really important. So everything that came before determines what's gonna come after, that's one of the key cornerstones of law and being a good lawyer.

So how do we disrupt that natural pattern of thinking that training to make sure that people are thinking through, even though I might have precedent for this in this situation, maybe there's another piece that I'm missing. Maybe there's another way to look at this and that interruption is part of the job, really making sure people are thinking about that more often.

Eugene: So, essentially, what you're trying to do is you're trying to empower grassroots whilst empowering top down to almost accommodate that change. There must be a big challenge though with not just the merger but also the big elephant in the room when you took this role on COVID, remote working, workplace is never going to be the same. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Sona: Yeah, I think the big thing there, one of the things that's been interesting to me is, I've mentioned that part of my role is also around the DEI firmwide and we have really focused on the I in DEI, inclusion, as a way to do that work. And I think that has been an incredible asset for us that we have focused that way from the beginning, even with everything that's coming down around the Supreme Court and different challenges coming to law firms, we have really focused on inclusion. So when you think about inclusion from the start, it's really not about including certain people. It's about how do we create an environment that is inclusive for everyone. And so everything that we've worked on has really been about. OK, there is the top-down piece of inherent bias the systems are set up to work against certain people from way before any of us were in these roles and then there's like the empowerment piece and making sure that people feel that they have a voice in, you know, what's going on for them and bringing those two things together is really the central point of our work. And really thinking through there are some things that if we just point them out, most people are actually not that resistant to it. People just don't think about it because it's sort of habitual. It's what's been done before. Like we talked about, there's precedent for the way that we handle certain things. But when you sort of point out here is how this could impact people in a certain underrepresented group, people are like, huh, I didn't think about that. I've never really met a resistance. Like no, it works fine for me. I'm not gonna do it when it's pointed out. Most of the time people want to make changes that are gonna be more inclusive and fair. And then there's also the piece of trying to make sure that we understand from a voice perspective, what our talent facing. What are the things that they're seeing that are better areas to entry? What are the traditions that are sort of getting in their way? Where do they feel that the firm has not taken responsibility for a certain initiative? What have you? But that has to be balanced with an understanding that in talent, there's so much individual um perception of how things are and trying to also have a firm wide standard on how, how we do things while still trying to leave room and space for people to have individual perspective is really the the thing that we grapple with and we talk about that part out loud. We say this is hard because we're trying to accommodate a lot of different people's feelings or people's perception while we're also trying to run our business and serve clients. So how do we make sure that we find that balance? I sometimes think it's not always going to be a perfectly aligned seesaw. There's certainly going to be times where one is tipping more than the other. But by talking about that tension and that balance, I think we get to better solutions because we're all aware of it.

Eugene: So it's almost saying, look, we know we're never going to get this 100% right, but we're actively working and we're actively listening to you. I think it's really interesting. You said inclusion is the key and it's what we focus on here at Troutman.  I think then a really nice sort of segue is then you then have a merger which is, you've got this job, you've got this role, you've got this culture and then you try and whack on you double the number of headcount, you double the size of your team and the real estate team. What are the challenges associated with that? Because you're not only dealing with keeping everyone together, you know,  you have another culture to merge into that. You have to start again.

Sona: You know, no. I think that that was the beauty of the merger. I think that we really recognized early on, there was more in common than not in common. And that was a cornerstone of how we approached a lot of different decisions because when we came back to that base level, that foundational point of there is more in common here than not in common that helps you get through that tough conversation or that we want to use this system or that system. And there was a lot of good conversation around this system might work a little better. Maybe we tweak it with something that was in this other legacy firm system. But ultimately, how do we build on the things that were good um to make something even better? The biggest challenge I think that we all would agree on is we were both two mid-sized firms. So a lot of the things that work for a 500 or so, some odd firm doesn't work for an 1100 lawyer firm. And I always say this to people, we talk about the number of lawyers at the firm, but from an inclusive lens, I like to say that we a 2000-person organization, although we have about 1,100 or so attorneys. And, actually, James, your CEO, was the one who pointed that out to me when he met me at a conference that we always talk about it that way. So I appreciate that he kind of gave me that insight. But I think that was really a key piece of saying, maybe neither of these systems work for this thing because now we have to do it for double the number of people. And maybe we have to look at this a new way. 

So I would say less so that we were starting from scratch, but more so really digging into what were the things that worked for each firm? What was the best that we can take from each firm so that we're creating something new, but on the foundation of, you know, firms that had been in existence for years and years. And one of the things that we talked about in one of the partners retreats shortly after we kind of came back from COVID was we may all be new to Troutman Pepper, but we've worked together for years and that was a nice way of acknowledging we're new to this firm, all of us. But we've all had these existing relationships with clients, existing relationships with one another and we can build on that to create something even better.  Because we're better together than apart. I really like the piece you said there. But you know, we're all basically trying to do the same thing. And I also quite like something you said before about inclusion where you said basically, there's very few people in the world are going to say no, I don't want this to be better for and I don't want it to be a fairer system. There's an element of your job, which is the same with everything where you want to measure success. How well we merge the firm? How well are we making people feel included? How do you do that in your role? Not just from a perspective of reporting this upwards, down, across to your peers. How do you feel like you're doing a good job? Inclusion is something which I feel is very easy to feel but hard to measure. Do people feel like they're part of decisions? You can surveys, you can do polls. Can you tell us a little bit about how you and the firm measure success in terms of your role?

Sona: Yeah, it's something we talk about a lot actually because I'm an MBA by trade and so numbers and being able to show ROI is really important, but we're talking about people. And one thing I was talking with a member of our leadership about was the hardest part of my job is I can give a survey. But on that day, if I give you the survey and you've just had a really bad conversation, the way you fill out that survey is going to be very different than the next day when you get candy in the office or something great happens. And so having to deal with that fluctuation in how people respond to a point in time is something that we have to make sure we're being conscious of. Even though that information and data is important for me, the bigger point is how do we actually aggregate data across different initiatives across different surveys across different conversations to tell the story over time. And if that story over time is a better story than the story you were telling three months ago and again, hard to measure. But since we're talking all the time about where we are in our journey, it's easier to kind of see. OK, so we said at this point in time, we were going to implement this system or do this thing, have we or have we not? That's one way that you can measure it. But then the other piece of it is I was hearing a lot about from Associates at exit interviews, but we started talking to that practice group or those partners. We had some coaching conversations with the practice group around it and we've had a couple of people exit and haven't heard the same feedback. So, is that a success? Yes, on that one thing. So I try not to look at the full macro because I think there's just like this amorphous nature to is this a place that I like to work. And the real crux of it is the stories that you figure out by looking at some of the micro interactions and some of the micro data points and pulling that information together in a way that helps people to understand, here's generally how talent are feeling. Here's how they feel about this thing. Here's how they feel about that thing. But overall, it starts to weave together that kind of tapestry that tells you the story of how people feel working at your firm. So it's not an easy thing. And I'm probably sounding like I'm not explaining it that well. But to give some specific examples, this was something that we were really happy about and we got good feedback on one of the questions we ask in our self evaluation of all of our associates is who has mentored you and we get a lot of narrative around that. But what we do is we pull out all the names of senior associates partners, etc that have even administrative teams sometimes are mentioned and we put a spreadsheet together that essentially shows all of those people. And what we did was talked about maybe for partner compensation, we can just give the list like here are the partners that were mentioned seven times more. We had 81% of our partnership mentioned and a lot of that 19% that wasn't mentioned were like recent laterals that may not have had a chance to even mentor. I thought that was a really great way to tell a story that 81% of our partnership or leadership in the firm has been mentioned in an associate evaluation is someone who has invested. So our firm is one where people take that seriously. That's a core piece of our high-performance culture and people are doing that. They're taking that seriously. And then what we've also talked about is maybe at our next partners meeting, we should, we just went through evaluations for this cycle. We should probably put those people up on the powerpoint, right? Why not just say that these are people that are mentioned seven times or more, six times or more, whatever the number is? But trying to have that positive motivation and aspiration for people to feel like, oh wow, I wanna be up on that slide. What else can I be doing is a way that we really want to encourage people and motivate people to do more.

Eugene: To reward it.

Sona: Yeah, to feel like they're doing, you know, these are things they're doing outside of the billable hour, taking that time and investing in people and making sure that they understand that that's acknowledged as part of our culture is critical. So we are really about trying to positively motivate people. These are really tough times and tough topics and you know, we want to make sure that people feel like there's some positive here, there's something here that is showing success. But again, that's not a traditional way of saying,

here's the ro i on all of our investment. And we've talked about mentoring. Here's what happened. This is just saying like, hey, this is kind of a great outcome that that much of our partnership has been mentioned. That means we're doing something right? When I listen to people talk about feeling like they have more of a voice and how they want to show up to work. I think there is a little bit of a tipping point towards the voice of talent and that is something that has come through to me in a lot of the work that I'm doing, there is more interest from leadership. Well, what do you think associates think about that? What do you think people are thinking about that? Whereas before, it might have been less concerned with exactly how the worker wants it to be. And more focus on this is what we need for our clients. This is how we're running our business. But there's just been a more of an awareness that there is more benefit for a firm, a company etc, to really understand their culture and create a culture in which people want to thrive because I do think there is more opportunity, there is more competition and it's easier for people to kind of just move to another job. We talked a lot about this in the pandemic. You literally could send one laptop in and get another delivered to your door without having to go to an office place. Maybe you have a blazer on the back of your chair for the interview and that's about it. So the effort to really engage competitors is just different, in my opinion, in this environment. And so that requires a different level of understanding what your talent wants and retaining the best talent.

Eugene: Yeah, it's like the fluid sort of nature of the job market and maybe coming back to a little bit more about the skills and sort of necessary um sort of talents and tools that are needed for your role. And I think it's actually quite a nice segue because the job market is so fluid. It's so easy to move around. Inclusion is the key at Troutman. What are the essential tools and skills which you use? And the key things that you have to do to be successful in your role? You talk about how you measure that. What are you doing to support your team? What are you doing to actually tie it all together?

Sona: Yeah, it changes every day.

Eugene: I feel measuring is also key.

Sona: Yeah, it changes all the time. Honestly, I think that one of the things that I've found over the years is trying to just be listening. I mentioned that before. But what I mean by that is the needs of even the team that I work with on a daily basis have changed in the pandemic, have changed in the merger, have changed with the social things that are going on in the world and making sure that we're being flexible to operate with those changes in a way that's conducive to people feeling like they're able to get the job done. They're seen as an authentic person that belongs at the firm is really the key and that happens in different ways depending on who I'm talking to. But I really find that most of my job is listening and again, like I said, it's not just listening to the words that people are saying, but trying to look at what are the different data points that provide me with more information on a story. And how do I connect those dots to tell that story? Because at the end of the day, when we think about professional services, the product is a person, right? A person's services. And so that's personal to people that is something that they think about. And when they are rejected by the client, it feels like a rejection of them. What versus if you're in the widget company and you're just trying to make every widget operate the same way every time, with talent, they're gonna operate in very different ways. And that's actually to the benefit of our clients, it’s to their benefit that we have different variation in terms of the people that serve them, the way that we serve them and the way that we add value, it's not a consistent standardized approach. But with that difference, we have to embrace it as part of the service model and make sure that we're being focused on how do we help people feel like they can be the their authentic selves at work? How do we make sure that we're creating fair ways for people to show up? But ultimately, how do we make sure that we're adding value for clients while still keeping our culture intact? So it's really to me about recognizing that that's gonna be different for the same person every day, how I show up today might be different than how I show up tomorrow. But that doesn't mean that I'm not able to serve clients. And like I said earlier about the survey, if I give it at a point in time, I might get very different answers than I would at another point of time. And understanding that story behind the data, I think is really probably one of the key ways that a talent officer can provide value. Like really understanding there are gonna be differences here. We don't have to react to every single difference. We have to understand where the outliers are. But we also have to understand what the outliers tell us about the overall story. So it's really, I see my job in a lot of ways as being a storyteller and making sure that that story is authentic to what's actually happening, not trying to push an agenda. But recognizing that we have to develop a strategy from all those differences from all those stories and create something that helps us to move our ability to serve clients forward.

Eugene: I think something you said that was really interesting is like the listening. But I also feel like when you're sat on the other side of the table, it must be to feel that you're being listened to and obviously, then you use the data to tell that story. My last question is probably I already know the answer I think, but it's gonna be what would your one piece of advice for others looking to advocate for and unlock the potential of the talent of their firm, I sort of think I know what your answer is going to be. 

Sona: What I would say is one of the things that drives me and motivates me is being a part of someone's story in the way that so many people have been a part of my story. And what I mean by that is I try to show up for people in a way that helps them to drive forward whatever they're trying to do big or small, big strategy for the firm versus small, there's no paper in the printer, right? We all have these things that we have to do to help people and collaborate. I was talking to one of the directors that reports to me today and she was telling me about a dashboard they're building and I was like, oh, you know, so and so is actually working on something she's like, oh yeah, you had mentioned that to me before and we've been collaborating on it. She gave me all these ideas and I was like, I love a good collaboration. And what she said is we all know you have a good collaboration. But what I liked about that point is I really do love the power of the results you can get when you work with other people and are open to learning. You know, if we come into everything with this idea that we know it all, if we come into everything thinking that there's no way to improve upon it, it really doesn't allow us to uh drive forward the best results. So when I talk about like being a part of someone's story, if I can be a part of a team that's doing something and people can say, you know, Sona really showed up, she was so helpful. That really drives me and I really want to make sure that in my role, I'm helping people feel like I'm a positive part of their story. But I'm also wanting to recognize all the people that are a positive part of my story too. So that connection is really powerful and when done well, it creates, you know, fun at work. You know, I post on my LinkedIn all the time about all the fun we're having. I don't know that people think that we're actually working at a serious place. But I do say a lot of the time, like just helping people to feel like we're gonna celebrate the small things that your story matters here and how you show up might be even better if you feel like I care about and understand that story and then pour into you the same way you're pouring into me. I talk about mentorship a lot. You know, I don't think that has to come from people who have gone before you. It can, but I get mentored all the time by the team I work with, you know, even people that report to me, I  learn something new every day. So having that openness to, sure I'm a chief, but I really might not know more about this process than the coordinator on our team. What can I learn from that? How do I bring them into this and how do we help each other be better together? That's really something that I think about and would be my piece of advice. I think you know, unless you're hanging a shingle and working on your own, you're always gonna be surrounded by people and you want people to feel like that person was really helpful to me today and you wanna interact with people in that way all the time. And I think that builds something greater than ourselves and then that thing can be really powerful and get the best results for our clients. I mean, it all does come back to business as all about feelings. But I do feel like just by connecting, by collaborating, by being open, there's a lot more that we can do together than apart. Was that what you thought I was going to say?

Eugene: It was so far off what I thought. So I’m glad I didn't try and answer that one. Well, that seems like a quite a good note to sort of wrap things up, but there's a couple of more quick-fire questions. I want to just ask you if that's OK. What's your favorite business and non-business book?

Sona: What's a business book? Is that a thing?

Eugene: A bit too sensible? Typically a business book, you could read the first chapter and you know what's gonna happen.

Sona: All right. The One Thing by Gary Keller was a book I read on vacation actually when I took a sabbatical several years ago. And it was great. And I think what I love the most about that book was that it really segmented different portions of your life and focused in on what is the one thing in this moment that is gonna drive forward whatever you're trying to accomplish. And it just broke it down in a way that I talked about this earlier. Like that big amorphous thing is never gonna get done. But if I have a strategic tactical thing that I can do, I can get that done today or I can work towards that. So I really enjoyed that book for kind of the simplicity of breaking it down to these, you know, I think this has been around forever, of course, like goals and tactics and whatever. But the way they describe it in that book really helped me to think through what is the one thing I'm trying to get done in all facets of my life and how do I get there and not focus so much on the 3 to 5 years down the line goal. And non-business book. I actually love The Other Black Girl, which is now a series on Hulu. It's a very interesting interpretation of how black women show up in the workplace and how we are perceived in the workplace. But it was a delightful read and the series is actually pretty good too.

Eugene: What was your first job?

Sona: All right. My first under-the-table job was babysitting at the age of 13. My first like above board official job was as a barista at Starbucks so I can make lattes. I can steam milk that can make frappuccinos. And I will tell you, I am definitely that crotchety person that walks into Starbucks now and back in my day, you had to like grind the beans yourself and like tamp them down and now they just press a button and I'm sort of like, I mean, is this even really a thing? You know? 

Eugene: I have ask, what's your order if you go into Starbucks?

Sona: I actually don't drink coffee anymore. I drink tea. So I order, we've had a conversation about it. Yes, I order an ice. It's actually a London fog latte but it's cold. So I order this whether it's cold outside or hot outside. But I order an iced black tea with vanilla syrup and a splash of cream and it's excellent and I do want to bring up one thing here. I don't understand why they give you sleeves only when you have hot drinks. Like isn't it about the extreme temperature? So I always have to bring a koozie since I order a cold drink.

Eugene: I think it's really good to important to focus on the important things in life. Yeah. What makes you happy at work?

Sona: I think I talked about this a little bit but seeing the collaboration lead to amazing outcomes. It really, it just makes me smile.

Eugene: Yeah. And what are you listening to at the moment? You mentioned, obviously, a series of your favorite books and our series, like, what are you listening to podcast, music,audio books, anything like that?

Sona: This is probably not good to say, but I don't really listen to podcasts. I will listen to this podcast. 

Eugene: Amen. Amen. Hallelujah. 

Sona: I actually have a liked songs playlist on Spotify. That is my go to because I love an eclectic mix of music and so I can always get something different no matter when I listen to it. I'm also really into Beyonce's Renaissance right now. I was a latecomer because I got invited to a client event for her concert and I hadn't listened to the album and so I listened to it and I was like, oh, I love it and I love Beyonce. So I don't know why I was a latecomer. I just was so I've been listening to that a lot.

Eugene: Nice, last question. Favorite place to visit and why?

Sona: So favorite place to visit implies a place that I've visited a lot. But actually I just went to Australia this year for the first time and it was amazing. And so I think it's my new favorite place to visit and I'm gonna have to try to go back. But if the question is a place that I frequent, I love coming to New York City, I'm from there. I have a ton of family a ton of friends there. I'm actually headed there tomorrow. And so I think that's probably a place that I love to go back to, but I'm glad I don't still live there.

Eugene: Any particular area?

Sona: That is a tough one. Actually. There's so many.

Eugene: I’m just back from New York last night.

Sona: Okay, well, where were you hanging out?

Eugene: Oh, God, I was up in Hamilton Heights. I was down in Lower East Side, Chinatown all around.

Sona: In one day?

Eugene: Yeah, it was quite a busy one.

Sona: Wow, good job. So my mom still has brownstone up in Hamilton Heights actually.And I used to live on the Upper West Side when I was really young.  I lived there till I was in my mid-twenties or so, but I used to love the Upper West side. I don't know if it's just something about growing up there and remembering that neighborhood feel there's really no nowhere in New York that really feels like that neighborhood bakery, the neighborhood post office, everybody kind of knew who we were. And I just love that aspect of New York that you could have that sort of feel in such a big city. 

Eugene: On that note, on that positive note, we'll wrap things up. Sona, thanks a million for participating on the Passle CMO Series Podcast.

Sona: Appreciate it. Thanks for having me.



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