CXO Conversation Podcast

CPO/GC Patricia Elias, Being in the Middle of a Career Pivot

Patricia Elias has a unique title at ServiceSource: Chief Legal and People Officer. She joins the show today to talk about how she came to take on the HR role, the unique event that brought her to ServiceSource, and a key realization about this very moment in her career.


Patricia Elias started as an SVP, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary for ServiceSource in 2016. Within two years, she was asked to assume the global HR role and title of Chief Legal and People Officer for a global company of over 3,000 employees.


Her prior roles include serving as Vice President, Deputy General Counsel at ViaWest, Senior Corporate Counsel at Flextronics, and Lecturer for the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business.





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[2:02] Michael introduces Patricia and asks her to share an interesting fact about herself as well as a little bit on what ServiceSource is, and does — Patricia is an inline skating evangelist!


SHOOTING SPORTING CLAYS [4:49] Patricia talks about what brought her to ServiceSource and it all began with shooting sporting clays!


CORPORATE SECRETARY [6:38] What does a corporate secretary do? Patricia shares what her first few years were like. She shares the story of how she was approached to take on the role of head of HR.


PREPARATION? HARDLY [11:06] Patricia touches on how little preparation she got before taking on the role. It was on-the-job training; she shares the two things that helped her most at the time. Patricia shares why she chose the CPO title instead of CHRO.


WHY LAW? WHY IT? [14:33] Patricia shares how she made her way to law, and eventually Counsel; the choice of working in tech and IT probably reflects her strong interest in science.


HR/LEGAL [16:53] 80% of her time is spent on HR matters, 10% on legal, and the remaining would be a space where she needs to wear both hats. Because of this experience, as well as some personal choices, Patricia will probably never go for a General Counsel role that has no extended responsibilities again.


PIVOT [20:05] Patricia and Michael agree that she is currently in the middle of a pivot! Patricia explains that the breadth of the impact she has on the organization could never be equaled by a legal-only position.


PRIDE AND LEGACY [21:51] Patricia shares how proud she is about having instituted parental leave at ServiceSource as well as the broader diversity impact this measure has had on the business. She shares another pride point.


EXPECTATIONS [24:35] Patricia talks about the things she has found to be interesting discoveries about her new role, but she didn’t have expectations, per se. She touches on how to handle working in multiple time zones and shares some personal tips on how to manage a team with empathy while working crazy hours.


HUMANS VS TECHNOLOGY [26:52] The modern technological paradigm has built a world where work hours have grown to the point of encroaching on personal life; Patricia shares her take on how to maintain healthy work habits. She also touches on the effects of COVID-19 on work environments and her predictions for the future of work.


ADVICE [29:32] Patricia offers advice to future CXOs and prepares for C-suite interviews. Know your business, and just don’t be a jerk. She also shares her insight for people who hold dual roles as she does — especially when one of those roles involves legal.


BEST WORST JOB PATRICIA EVER HAD [34:14] A temp job answering the constantly ringing corded phone while welcoming and being polite to customers who appeared at the window. It was so stressful it led her to realize she needed a college degree.


FINAL THOUGHTS [36:45] An attitude of gratitude, empathy, and outward mindset are key to success, and happiness.


[37:17] Michael thanks Patricia for coming on the podcast to share her insight and closes out the podcast with his favorite takeaways.


We hope you learned something today and enjoyed the conversation. Please give us 5 stars on iTunes and share your comments so we can improve and ask the questions you want to hear.



Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM)



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