All in on Life: How Leela Srinivasan, Lever CMO, is Climbing the Ladder on Her Own Terms

June 09, 2016

When Leela Srivivasan, Lever CMO and mother of two, took to the Startup Grind stage, she had the audience captivated instantly. She dug into her topic, "Hiring for Growth: 13 Hacks in 30 Minutes," with the audience hanging on to her every word, infected by her enthusiasm, then drawn in by her experience. With influential roles at LinkedIn and OpenTable, she brings years of expertise to bear - not just in business, but in building a life alongside her career. For Startup Grind's annual Female Founder's Month, we're looking to women who have stepped out of traditional molds, creating careers that truly work for them - and their families.

Building What Matters into Your Career

When asked about her work, Leela says that she prefers to divide her professional career in two: before business school, and after. Not having much direction prior to business school, she says that she shifted around through many roles. It was only after moving to Boston and working in a sales roles did it become evident she needed some quantitative experience. Business school was her next stop.

However, even after getting a coveted internship at Leaman Brothers - well before the market collapse - Leena knew 48 hours into the internship that this wouldn't be something she wanted, and couldn't find it intellectually stimulating.

She knew she didn't want to be a part of the typical corporate glory-story.

She knew that she didn’t want to be a full-time stay at home mom.

What Does Modern Day Success Look Like?

Leela says that she knew she’d be at her best in the workplace, with one condition: the work had to have meaning, especially if she was “leaving her child at home with a child minder." To address work-life balance, she shifted into management consulting where she was “fascinated” by pulling together her wide experiences and layering that with company culture.

But it wasn’t until she arrived at LinkedIn that she finally found what was perfect for her. Even though she didn’t have any formal marketing experience, Leela feels fortunate that her manager looked past her experience and saw more in her specifically.

After having moved out of San Francisco to be closer to family, Leela spent the next 3 years working from her home office, while building a team and learning to manage a team from far away. Over time, Leela’s husband expressed his interest in becoming a painter, so they did what every supportive family does – they made decisions together. Her family moved back to San Francisco, but didn't settle in.

“I would go mad at home” she says, so it’s a perfect fit that her husband is able to paint at home and be with the couple’s younger daughters, while Leela, now the primary breadwinner, pushed on with her newfound passion for Marketing.

Today Leela has been with Lever for 6 months. She is enjoying the impact her work makes in people’s lives, making hiring more human.

At the end of the day, Leela says that as a female in business, “It's always been inspiring to me to see that I can look up and around me to see amazing women doing well.” She now mentors others the same way.

This article was originally published on Startup Grind.

With influential roles at LinkedIn and OpenTable, Leela Srinivasan brings years of expertise to bear - not just in business, but in building a life alongside her career.

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