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  • Writer's pictureZaharo Tsekouras

Chiefly Podcast: What it means to be a Chief of Staff with Adrianne Poyet-Smith, Chief of Staff @ VMWare

Updated: Feb 7

On the different aspects of the role, unconventional career paths, mentorship, and why building strong relationships is key to succeeding


Welcome to the Chiefly podcast!

Today’s guest is Adrianne Poyet-Smith, Chief of Staff to the VP GTM & Transformation at VMWare, a cloud computing and virtualization technology company.

Prior to VMWare, Adrianne was the Chief of Staff to the CMO at SAP Concur.

In this episode, Adrianne and I discuss:

  • Her experience transitioning into the Chief of Staff role

  • The importance of mentors

  • What it really means to be a Chief of Staff

  • Why taking risks is a core aspect of the role, and more

Check out the episode here!

Show Notes

00:00  How Adrianne knew the Chief of Staff role was for her

01:29  Learnings from mentorship & finding a champion at work

03:11  Adrianne’s biggest takeaways from her mentor/mentee relationship

05:12  Other career trajectories of former Chiefs of Staff at SAP Concur

06:47  Adrianne’s primary responsibilities

08:19  How the Chief of Staff collaborates with others on the team

10:09  Why the first 90 days are so critical for a Chief of Staff

11:35 — A Chief of Staff’s “breakeven point”

13:12 — The value of doing a listening tour during your onboarding

14:10  Taking risks and advice for aspiring Chiefs of Staff if there isn’t an opportunity internally

14:57 — How Lindsay Goldman (CoS at Rupa Health) landed her first Chief of Staff role

16:30 — Advice for current or aspiring Chiefs of Staff knowing what she knows now about the role

18:08 — What Adrianne believes in but isn’t as open to telling most people

19:34 — Adrianne’s contrarian viewpoint on remote work

20:49 — Tips for remote collaboration

22:38 — The top question to ask to really connect with someone

23:49 — The importance of EQ and psychological safety on the job

24:47  Parting thoughts for aspiring Chief of Staff

Key takeaways:

  • A Chief of Staff is a strategic thinker, communicator, and stakeholder and accountability manager.

  • Building relationships and trust as a Chief of Staff is crucial, especially within the first 90 days.

  • When you’re clear on what you want, be fearless and take risks.

  • Career paths look more like squiggles than straight lines, and that’s OK.


The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins

More about Adrianne:

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