MSLOC at 15: Claudia Richman: From Consultant to Chief Talent Officer

MSLOC at 15: Claudia Richman: From Consultant to Chief Talent Officer

Claudia RichmanClaudia Richman (MSLOC14) was stuck in another seemingly pointless work meeting when she scribbled “look into change management programs” in the margins of her notes.

Not long after, she was enrolled in the MSLOC program. After more than two decades of experience in operations, program management and advertising, Richman is chief talent officer at 8th Light, a custom software development company.

As part of the MSLOC series, which celebrates 15 years of the program, we talk with Richman about what inspired her to join 8th Light less than a year ago, what she’s learned about change, and how MLSOC helped her become a people person.

Soccer, a theft and America Online helped launch your career. Tell us more:

I graduated in art history in the 90s when there were no jobs. I temped as a receptionist at the U.S. Soccer Federation and they hired me as the communications coordinator. But then my computer was stolen. The replacement had America Online, so I decided to learn about it. I bought an “HTML for Dummies” book and built the first soccer website in the U.S.

What prompted you to leave?

I decided that I was tired of getting paid in soccer T-shirts, so I got a job in corporate communications. My supervisor recognized I was bossy and organized, and sent me to technology project management training. That led me to advertising and helped me understand that most agencies didn’t know how to scale when things went big. Which led me to MSLOC!

Describe your work at 8th Light:

I am involved with people talent development and organizational design for this small but growing software consultancy of about 120 people. We have locations in six cities and two countries, and I’ve visited all of them since I started nine 9 months ago.

What inspired you to leave consulting to become 8th Light’s CDO?

As a consultant, I wanted to work full time if I could make a difference and have an impact on bigger issues. When I was interviewing with 8th Light, there was a lot of focus on the lack of women and diversity in tech. My position was actually developed at the urging of the company’s diversity and inclusion committee, and the company was really dedicated to moving forward in inclusion.

How does 8th Light’s training model help support those inclusion efforts?

Each new employee goes through a six-month paid apprenticeship. They are trained in a curriculum that focuses on a shared culture of learning, not on any specific software. We don’t even ask for resumes. As a result, we can hire non-traditional candidates who come from underrepresented communities, people who were interested in technology and taught themselves how to code. We have people from every background imaginable: teachers, lawyers, comics.

What are the benefits?

We won’t ever win on salary, but we create a learning environment that helps these brilliant, motivated people deliver on excellence. At MSLOC, we talked so much about having a growth mindset. I’ve never experienced this kind of training model and it’s amazing.

Your company hopes to grow even more in the coming years. What’s the biggest challenge you face?

Our mission is to increase the quality of software in the world, not to make more money. Our biggest challenge in reaching that goal is our apprenticeship model. By taking the time to train people the way we do, you can’t go hire 30 people and expect them to have the level of quality we expect right out of the gate.

How has MSLOC helped you become more people-focused?

I’ve been focused on individual motivation and interconnectivity. Those are all concepts I definitely learned in MSLOC. In my work, I am the person that people come to with any need. My husband laughs that I’ve come so far, because I don’t come by this naturally. MSLOC helped balance out a lot of things I needed on the people side of systems.

Are you still in touch with people from the MSLOC community?

The community was invaluable to me, especially when I went out on my own. I still stay in close contact with many people, even four years after I graduated. I keep in close contact with (consultant and MSLOC adjunct professor) Kelly Ross (MS11), who gave me some coaching help. She and I still meet to bounce ideas off each other. I’ve also posted resources, and hired a current student to help me put together 360 review process. The MSLOC network is a great place to find people who can talk through specifics of whatever issue I’m facing.


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