The role of a chief operating officer (COO) can vary greatly from one business to the next. For Mary Bartlett, COO of Woodbury shared workspace The Reserve, her role entails “everything from running the day-to-day operations of three different locations, meeting new potential members, and building a vibrant community by connecting members and helping them grow their business,” she says.
Meanwhile, Garret Werner, COO of medical service supplier Picc Stat, describes his work as “overseeing strategic operations, ensuring that we have the staffing for hospitals ... everything personnel-focused.” Their individual roles differ, but both Bartlett and Werner are under pressure to keep their businesses running at full speed, and sometimes they just need to talk it out.
Enter Margaret Ricci, chapter director of the Twin Cities COO Forum. Ricci, owner of Cultural Strategies LLC, is familiar with the need for connection among operations leadership. Formerly the COO of a global toy company, she began attending tele-meetings of the chapter’s parent organization COO Forum in 2015. “They were held with people from all over the globe, once a month,” she says. “We would bounce ideas off each other, we became advocates for each other. It was a safe haven to talk.”
In late February of this year, Ricci decided to take it a step further, working to create a local chapter of the COO Forum to support the region’s operations leadership. She now has around 25 interested COOs and held her first meeting on June 11. “We have a great, robust community here in the Twin Cities,” says Ricci, mentioning that around 40 percent of the chapter’s members are women.
Bartlett, the COO of The Reserve, is one of them. “The COO Forum provides a place for like-minded operations leaders to engage, learn, and grow together,” she says. In fact, Ricci “runs her business out of The Reserve and we are really aligned on the concept of sharing expertise to help others.”
In fact, The Reserve has been an important resource for Ricci as she worked to create a local COO Forum chapter. Ricci first met Bartlett when she moved into a private office at The Reserve’s Woodbury location. “I love The Reserve,” says Ricci. “It’s not a bunch of workspaces thrown together. Everyone is like-minded and we’re all in it to build each other’s businesses up. The people here go out of the way to make it a community.”
This has also been the case for fellow Reserve member and COO of Picc Stat, Garret Werner. “There’s a pretty diverse group, from start-ups to massive companies, that work there,” he says. “It’s cool to see and connect with those different types of businesses.” Werner began a second business with two of his Reserve co-workers earlier this year.
Much like The Reserve’s community of workers, Ricci sees the COO Forum as an outlet for Twin Cities residents in stressful leadership roles. “The hard part is that there is no one to talk to or share with,” she says. “That’s why the COO Forum is so powerful.”
Current Title: CEO at Cultural Strategies, LLC
What she likes about being a COO: “The fun part is that you get to love business and people at the same time...You bring the CEO’s vision to life and you change how the firm ... accomplishes objectives.”
In her spare time: Reading, gardening, canning vegetables, and taking care of her grandmother’s 100-year-old peony bushes in her yard.
Current Title: COO at The Reserve
What she likes about being a COO: “The most rewarding parts of my job are watching my team grow as professionals and accomplish more than they maybe even thought they were capable of.”
In her spare time: “I don’t have much free time! I volunteer for activities that my kids are involved in and attend their school events. I also loves to cook and entertain.”
Current Title: COO of Picc Stat
What he likes about being a COO: “Earlier in my career I enjoyed being challenged and building relationships with leaders, so [getting to provide that] is a unique and rewarding experience.”
In his spare time: With two young children, he doesn’t have a lot of free time, but does enjoy cooking at home with his wife and kids.