Focal Operators: 25 Leaders To Know

Founders might usually get more attention, but don't sleep on the Operators. They are the backbone of NYC’s startup ecosystem. Here are the leaders we see paving the way.

Focal Operators: 25 Leaders To KnowFocal Operators: 25 Leaders To Know

Similar to our previous Focal Lists (roundups cover healthcare, fintech, proptech, infra, as a few examples), we're spotlighting a mix of ascendant and established leaders in the New York community, this time with a focus on Operators.

Why? Although Operators often work in the background to build and scale a company, their impact on the success of a business can’t be overstated. Primary has always been a champion of Operators, especially through our in-house Operator staff that outnumbers Investors 2:1 and our Mastermind Network, where we provide over 1,000 of them with best-in-class programming. After all, they are and will be the future leaders, Founders, and Investors of tomorrow.

To put a spotlight on New York City’s top operational talent, we’ve rounded up individuals across functions and industries in a list that shouldn’t be read as comprehensive so much as a series of shoutouts.

Zofia Ciechowska, Vice President, Strategy & Operations at Etsy

Since 2018, Zofia has overseen Etsy's strategy, operations, employee communications, and program management functions during the company's reascension as the global marketplace for vintage and handmade goods and expansion into a House of Brands with its Depop, Reverb, and Elo7 acquisitions. Today, she works across all four marketplaces and their executive teams to increase their strategic alignment, deliberate execution, and innovation capabilities. Before Etsy, Zofia led Spotify’s Strategy & Operations team during the company’s period of hypergrowth and preparation to go public.

Marc Jacobs, CRO at Cheq

With 20 years of experience building and managing sales teams for an array of startups and large companies, Marc is a veteran Operator. These days, he’s the Chief Revenue Officer at Cheq, a GTM security platform protecting the marketing, revenue, and data operations of over 14,000 customers. Marc has previously held various roles including Chief Revenue Officer at Spring Health, where he helped increase revenue by over 15x, and leading Sales & Customer Success at CB Insights, where he helped increase revenue by 6x in four years.

Jordan Garner, COO at Mulberry Technology

From Trustpilot to WeWork, Jordan has worked at startups across various sectors and stages in the past 15 years. Having studied computer science and business, she began her career as an engineer before shifting to roles that focused on marketing, partnerships, and customer success. Currently, she’s the COO at Mulberry Technology, an ecommerce tech company enabling consumers easy access to product protection plans when they shop online. Prior to that, she was VP, Global Head of Customer Success and Account Management at WeWork, where she grew the team to more than 200 account managers.

Chris Watson, Chief of Staff at Honor

After a short tenure in financial services, Chris has spent his career building startups across multiple industries. Chris is now a star player in the healthcare space as Chief of Staff at Honor. Prior to Honor, he joined the leadership team of Clover Health in 2015 where he grew the company’s revenue 9x to nearly $600 million annually, leading GTM strategy throughout the company's growth from Series A to IPO. In 2020, he cofounded SeekMedicare, a software company spun out of Clover Health, and helped the venture raise $20 million in external funding and close a nationwide strategic partnership with Walgreens. Before venturing into healthcare, he was employee #2 at Savored, a startup providing innovative yield management software and a customer marketplace to the U.S. restaurant industry, which was acquired by Groupon in 2012.

Louis DeStefano, Senior VP of Growth at Oscar Health

Louis has been dedicated to the healthcare space for more than 20 years. He started out working at health insurance company Cigna before moving on to various sales leadership roles at UnitedHealth Group, where he worked for thirteen years. Since 2017, Louis has been leading sales and growth at Oscar Health, an InsurTech company providing plans to families, individuals, and businesses. He’s also a current advisor for healthcare data startup Budgie Health and California-based medtech company Invoy. Previously he was an advisor for both Garner Health and Nava during their initial stages.

Devraj Mukherjee, Chief Growth Officer at Conversio Health

Over the past decade, Dev has worked on various healthcare ventures, tackling everything from patient engagement and pediatric care to healthcare AI solutions. Currently, he brings his seasoned entrepreneurial experience to his role as Chief Growth Officer at Conversio Health, a healthcare firm providing disease management and pharmacy solutions to improve outcomes for patients with chronic respiratory conditions. Previously, he was Vice President of Business Development and Marketing at AllazoHealth, a medication adherence AI solutions provider where he helped the company grow by 300% year-on-year in headcount and revenue.

Ellen Terchila, Former Chief Customer Officer at Electric

Ellen has held multiple customer success leadership roles in the software industry over the last 20+ years—before CS was a widely known function. In her most recent venture, Ellen was the Chief Customer Officer at Electric, an IT infrastructure software company, where she led all post-sales teams including implementation, customer success, account management, professional services, and solutions architecture. Prior to Electric, she was the SVP of Customer Success at marketing software firm CM Group (now Marigold) and Director of Customer Success at enterprise cloud applications provider Workday.

Eleanor van den Heuvel, Senior Director, Knowledge Management at Coinbase

After completing a Ph.D. in Italian Language and Literature, Eleanor plunged into the tech world at Google, working in Italian ad analytics before moving on to customer-focused management roles at Amazon and Compass. Currently, she’s the Senior Director of Knowledge Management at Coinbase, where she’s responsible for teams and AI powering content strategy, internal documentation, change management, learning, and the development of end-to-end customer self-service solutions.

Jordan Kennedy, SVP of Revenue at Botify

Over the past three years, Jordan has been at enterprise software firm Botify where his role is focused on growing revenue for the North American market. Leading a team of more than 60 people, Jordan has helped the firm more than double revenue and increase renewal rates by nearly 10 percent. Previously, he led a sales team at the performance marketing company Wunderkind. With more than 13 years of experience building sales teams and managing operation expansion, Jordan has proven his abilities in recruiting top talent, strategic planning, and optimizing processes.

Lauren Gold, CRO at Yobi Ventures

Lauren is currently the Chief Revenue Officer at Yobi Ventures, an AI company working in the data space. Prior to Yobi, Lauren spent a decade at the brand management company, Yext, where she was one of the first enterprise team members and became SVP of Customer Success running enterprise customer success for all of North America. During her time there, she built out its Financial Services and Strategic Accounts teams, and has contributed significantly to Yext’s growth from a startup to a publicly traded company.

Melanie Pitson, Head of Product, Buyer Experience at Atlassian

Melanie has more than 20 years of experience in digital product development and building go-to-market strategies for emerging startups and large companies. She’s held several senior roles at Tribune Publishing, Comcast NBCUniversal, ABC News, and Artspace (acquired by Phaidon Press). She cofounded femtech brand MOONS, and worked as a Partner at the creative agency Superlative. These days, she’s Head of Product, Buyer Experience at Atlassian.

Meg Goetsch, Former VP of Operations and Finance at Vanta

Meg started out her journey as an operator in 2010 at MongoDB where she was the 24th employee and helped the company build to 700 employees and a $1.2 billion valuation. Since then, she’s held positions as the Vice President of Revenue Operations at JW Player and as Operations Leader at Amazon Web Services’ Business Development and Strategic Industries Group. Until recently, Meg was at an automated cybersecurity compliance startup Vanta, where she was responsible for leading operations for revenue growth and customer acquisition. She also cofounded Women in Revenue Marketing, a quarterly gathering for women in senior-level marketing roles to be in dialogue with one another.

Sam Wiener, Executive Vice President of Growth at Spark Advisors

After completing his Bachelor's degree at Vanderbilt University and Master’s degree at Georgetown University School of Medicine, Sam began a path working in sales, growth, and operations at healthcare startups. He was a Sales Manager at Zocdoc before moving to Oscar Health and holding various senior sales and growth positions. At the moment, he’s the Executive Vice President of Growth at Spark Advisors, a technology-enabled Medicare brokerage that partners with independent agents and agencies to help Medicare beneficiaries take control of their healthcare. At Spark Advisors, Sam is responsible for leading the sales, marketing, and operations teams, and is focused on building durable growth for the organization.

Jake McGraw, Head of Engineering at Harness Wealth

Jake has more than 10 years of experience building and scaling engineering and product teams for startups. He was a Director of Engineering at Refinery29, CTO at media company ATTN:, as well as Cofounder and CTO of web3 research company The Block. Currently, he’s the Head of Engineering at the wealth management platform Harness Wealth.

Julia Morton, Senior Vice President & GM at Flatiron Health

Since joining Flatiron in 2015, Julia has held various operations and customer-focused roles. Currently, she heads the experience and growth of Flatiron’s network of oncology practices, as well as the company’s expansion to new markets. Previously, she worked in operations and consulting positions at Zocdoc, Bain & Co. and Katzenbach.

Andrea Kayal, CRO at Teampay

After three years of working as the Chief Marketing Office at IT support platform Electric and helping the company grow ARR by 8x, Andrea is now Chief Revenue Officer at Teampay, an all-in-one purchasing platform for businesses. She has more than 20 years of experience in business strategy, brand management, marketing, and customer success. Previously, Andrea led marketing at companies such as Upserve, Signpost, Lua Technologies, and TimeLink. In both professional and personal settings, Andrea is a vocal advocate for LGBTQ and Women’s Rights.

Douglas Hanna, COO at Grafana Labs

As Chief Operating Officer at Grafana Labs, Douglas is responsible for helping the open-source visualization and analytics company grow and scale. He leads all of go-to-market, as well as internal operations. Prior to Grafana, he spent nearly four years at Zendesk, most recently as Vice President of Operations. Previously, he was the Founder and CEO of, a customer service software company, and the CEO of A Small Orange, a web hosting company for small businesses and individuals.

Nick Gossen, Head of Growth at Dandelion Health

Nick is responsible for driving growth at Dandelion Health, a data platform that provides clinical AI and life sciences companies easy and ethical access to a range of longitudinal, multimodal patient data. Previously, he was SVP of Strategic Initiatives at Covera Health and spent six years at Oscar Health in sales, strategy, and operational roles, most recently as Vice President of Corporate Strategy.

Kristen Habacht, CRO at Typeform

Kristen is a seasoned Sales expert with 15+ years of experience in managing and scaling teams. She was most recently the President and COO at Shogun, an ecommerce experience platform. Prior to Shogun, she was the VP of Sales at Trello, where she grew the company from its first hire all the way to a $425 million acquisition by Atlassian in 2017. She then led the America/APAC sales team and Atlassian global enterprise development sales team.

Jamie Coakley, Senior Vice President of People at Electric

For more than a decade, Jamie has worked in the realm of recruiting top-notch talent and building teams at tech and sales companies. As SVP of People at Electric, she oversees all recruiting, HR, and People Operations as well as managing the needs of the 400 employees. Prior to that, Jamie was at boutique executive search firm TwentyPine, where she led the company through an acquisition by Mitchel Martin in 2018.

Scott Chesrown, Cofounder and COO at Perry Health

A seasoned senior operating executive, Scott Chesrown is a Cofounder and COO at Perry Health, a health tech startup offering care and monitoring for people with diabetes. Previously, he was COO at K Health, a data-driven clinical healthcare company, and Cofounder and Chief Revenue Officer at Vroom, an online used car dealership that went public in 2020.

Jerry Tang, Operations at Dandy

With an engineering and supply chain management background, Jerry joined GE in 2007 and spent nine years leading global supply chain and manufacturing in the U.S. and China. He then joined Flexport, a supply chain and logistics startup where he helped build the business from Series A through Series D, with more than $1 billion topline, 2,000+ employees, and a global network across 80+ countries. Nowadays, he’s leading operations at Dandy, a digital dentistry startup.

Bridget Shea, Chief Customer Officer at Dataiku

Bridget Shea serves as Dataiku’s Chief Customer Officer in New York, where she oversees the global customer success and professional services teams responsible for helping customers drive value from their AI initiatives. Bridget previously served as SVP of Global Services at Datorama and led integration efforts after Datorama’s acquisition by Salesforce. Her experience also includes building global GTM teams at Twitter, TellApart, and Yext, as well as advising organizations such as dbt Labs, Hex, and Heap.

Caroline Dell, VP & GM of New Verticals at Chief

Caroline is an early stage leader with a track record of successfully launching and scaling multiple startups from the ground up, including LOLA and Chief. Caroline currently serves as the General Manager of New Verticals at Chief, a private network designed for the most powerful women in executive leadership, with a roster of over 20,000 members. Since launching Chief as the fourth employee, she has built and led the Operations, Member Experience, Renewal, Strategy, and Expansion functions, and is now incubating a new vertical.

Morten Bruun, SVP of Revenue at Worksome

Morten has accumulated his operational expertise with years of experience in managing and improving processes across various industries. At Worksome, an OS for the flexible future of work, Morten led Global Operations before making his way to SVP of Revenue. Prior to Worksome, he led transformations at companies like Google and McKinsey. Morten also serves as an Investor at Matter, an analytics platform that connects investors to insights from leading independent experts which had him recognized by Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Finance category.