10. What are the five traits of successful COO’s?

Our special guest is Charlene Chen, a key figure in the startup operations community and former COO of Lantum and AZA Finance.

9/28/20231 min read

We discuss the following:

  • How do different personalities and styles of Ops leaders contribute to the overall success of a company?

  • In what ways do Ops leaders act as the connective tissue of a company?

  • How can communication breakdown be addressed as a company scales and teams become siloed?

  • What are the key responsibilities of Ops leaders in terms of internal communications?

  • How does the performance of teams who don't directly report to a COO reflect on their success and failure?

  • Why is it challenging for COOs to measure their value and articulate their impact in an OKR format?

  • How do consultants-turned-Ops leaders approach problem-solving differently from those without a consulting background?

  • Why is self-awareness important for COOs and operations leaders in identifying their strengths and weaknesses?

  • How does resourcefulness play a significant role in the success of COOs, especially in times of crisis or limited resources?

Listen here

Ops Fest 2023 brings together operations communities from all corners of the globe.



Key traits of a COO

  • Generalist - Jacks and Jills of all trades covering multiple functions

  • Hourglass-Shaped - Ability to zoom out to do strategy but zoom in to design minute processes

  • Gluey - The connective tissue of a company, filling the gaps in and between cross-functional teams

  • Resourceful - Making do with little human or financial capital

  • Humble - Work hard behind the scenes with little credit given (not as glorified as engineers and salespeople)


Charlene Chen has over 15 years of operational leadership experience working with a variety of organizations ranging from tech startups to international non-profits to Fortune 500 companies. She began her career as an IT consultant at Deloitte Consulting, but spent 8 years focused on operational leadership of socially impactful venture-capital backed businesses in the fintech and healthtech industries. Charlene was co-founder and COO of AZA Finance (formerly BitPesa), former COO of Lantum, and is Co-Founder of Operations Nation, a community-led digital hub for Ops-specific content, resources, and training.