Aumni Spotlight: Scott Sherrill, Chief Operating Officer
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your career and how you got to Aumni.
A: At Aumni, I’m the chief operating officer, overseeing company operations, finance, human resources, and all the traditional back-office business functions. My journey to Aumni began at Boston University, where I earned a dual degree in law and business. Aumni’s CEO, Tony Lewis, was in the same section as I was in law school -- that was our earliest connection. After law school, I started a Mastermind group with several law-school classmates that were particularly interested in business and finance, and Tony was a member of that group.
During the first three years of my career, I practiced corporate law in Boston. Then, I joined a holding company as a special projects manager, a role akin to an in-house CEO. I enjoyed the work and was subsequently invited to join one of their most promising portfolio companies. After five years of steady success, Tony asked me to join him at Aumni. We had just closed our Series A and were on the verge of significant growth. After managing rapid company growth for years, my skills were honed for the opportunity at Aumni.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of working at Aumni?
A: Aumni has a dynamic culture that I find energizing. We are given opportunities to work through the challenges of rapid growth in collaborative ways using both proven and newly created methods. When I started, Aumni had roughly 15 employees, but the team worked with the utmost professionalism. We are a much larger organization now, but we enjoy working with the same sense of drive and professionalism. Everyone here is incredibly smart and experienced in their respective fields. Seeing this inspires me and pushes me to be better, too.
Q: What excites you most about Aumni’s mission?
A: Aumni's mission – bringing transparency and structure to the data that powers the private market – is so unique. To have this mission and bring it to life the way we are is incredibly exciting. Previously, private market interactions were based on a little bit of research, a little bit of intuition, and a lot of trust. Aumni is bolstering that foundation of trust with accurate data. With Aumni’s infrastructure in place, private market investors will benefit from easier access to the liquidity that they need, and that's huge. As an investor myself, I can appreciate the enormous impact that Aumni is making in our industry.
Q: You played a key role in the development of Aumni’s values. Can you tell us more about that process?
A: Yes, this is one of the initiatives that I championed but it was truly a group effort. When we created the company values, we had our team members go through an exercise-- to name the person that they thought most exemplified the culture of Aumni. We listed out the characteristics of that person and established values based on qualities and principles that Aumni’s employees already exhibited, and that’s what has made them so powerful.
The five values are: Put on your air mask – this one is a reference to the aircraft safety rule that, in case of emergency, guides the passenger to put on their oxygen mask first before assisting others. We believe that if you take good care of yourself, then you’ll be able to take good care of Aumni. The next one is big team, little me. Then, act with integrity and no mediocrity. And the last one is to be a force multiplier. All of the team members who inspired and created these values are still at Aumni, driving the culture forward.
Q: Which value do you think is most important?
A: I am passionate about all of our values. For me, the most important one is to act with integrity. This phrase is emblazoned over the door to my office. It’s the primary tenet for a COO, particularly when overseeing finance and HR. In these areas, integrity and trust are so vital.
For the company as a whole, I believe that the foundational value is put on your air mask because it drives all the others. You have to take care of yourself to act with integrity, be a force multiplier, and so forth.
Aumni’s management team concurs and invests in our Aumni Air Mask Fund, a program we’ve dedicated to directly support this shared value. Every year on the anniversary of Aumni’s founding, we gift money to Aumnians. We encourage the employee to spend that money on their “air mask” (on themselves). Then, we ask employees to share how they spent those funds— gym equipment, rock climbing lessons, cooking class, a solo vacation, a family trip, a playset for their kids, and so on. We’ve found this to be an authentic way for the company to actively support our workplace philosophy.
Q: With the global pandemic and extended lockdown orders, this past year has been an especially challenging one for business operations teams. At the same time, Aumni was also experiencing rapid growth. Can you tell us about how your team navigated these circumstances and overcame any obstacles?
A: Aumni has always embraced a workplace environment that recognizes that people need flexibility due to life circumstances. When the world transitioned to virtual work, it created an extended use of the flexibility that was already part of our work culture. Aumni employees are enabled to work remotely as needed, so the lockdown orders were accommodated seamlessly and we found safe ways to continue working without compromising our growth trajectory.
With regard to facing the typical challenges of rapid growth, we were set up for success. Our leadership team has always been incredibly forward-thinking, and we have a highly skilled leadership team that prepared the structures and tools necessary for the company to scale. We all trusted each other so growth didn't seem to hinder us. Of course, we’ve had our challenges and disagreements on the best way to scale, but I’m proud of our leaders for anticipating the trials of growth and grateful that the broader operations team remains focused and executes effectively.
Q: What is something surprising that your colleagues may not be aware of about you?
A: I’m dedicated to hand-crafted quality when it comes to my favorite beverages. At home, I roast my coffee beans so the flavor is optimal. Before Aumni, I used to brew beer at home as well. Luckily I was able to expand on that passion and become a majority owner in a local brewery.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to share with future job applicants who are considering Aumni?
A: As we continue to grow rapidly, every department is on the lookout for professionals who excel at what they do. If you fit the values that I laid out – no mediocrity, act with integrity, and consider yourself a force multiplier that collaborates well with a big team – we are looking forward to meeting you. If you don’t see a specific Aumni job opening that matches your skillset, don’t let that stop you from reaching out. Please send your inquiries to email@example.com.