Haley Parizo, Sales Operations Manager, Soft Robotics Inc.

Haley Parizo worked as a sales operations manager for several years before joining the packaging and processing industry via Soft Robotics Inc. in May of 2018. After gaining an understanding of the growing market and being introduced to the energetic and motivated team, she knew this was where she belonged. As the owner of Soft Robotics’ internal CRM and order management system, Parizo has eyes on each order from quote to shipment and her and her sales team support customers and partners along every step of a project. She started at the company as a sales and marketing association and grew with the department, transitioning into her current role as the sales operations manager.

What has your time at Soft Robotics been like?
When I started at Soft Robotics, we were a small company who quickly ran out of space due to rapid growth. My workspace was shared with our applications engineering team, so I was brought up to speed on our technology and the industry within my first two months. I enjoyed watching the engineers troubleshoot and develop our robotic end of arm solutions for customers in real time. This company is full of creative thinkers and by encouraging brainstorming sessions, employees are supported in raising our hands and making suggestions. I’ve been able to present my ideas and get moving on a project quickly and with a lot of support and helpful feedback along the way. As a small company, we’re able to move fast without a lot of barriers so having that support has given me endless opportunities to explore and learn new skills.

What is the most fascinating part of your job?
As the sales operations manager, I have an opportunity to interact with most of our customers through order processing. I get to meet customers over the phone and occasionally in person from all over. The projects that our customers are working on are creative and it’s incredible to watch how others use our technology in production. I love when a customer shares a video or photo of the result, it’s great to see our team’s hard work in action. As the owner of our sales process, I also have a wide range of opportunities to innovate and make processes more efficient as we continue to grow. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a team of like-minded people who listen to my ideas and agree to be test subjects whenever available. It’s a dream come true to build a system and spearhead a project that helps our team work closely together and helps our customers succeed.

What aspects of the packaging and processing industries do you enjoy?
I’m so intrigued by the constant technical development in packaging and processing right now. Automation is fascinating and the industry is highly competitive. Our technology is just one part of an entire solution and getting to see the full final integration is awe-inspiring. I’m impressed by the constant technical development within the industry. Watching our team continue to build a smarter system and as customers choose to make the move to automate, we get an inside look into the challenges that industry members are trying to solve. Automation and robotics in packaging is on the rise and watching those customers take that leap is very exciting.

Working at a startup company, how do you overcome obstacles you encounter?
Working for Soft Robotics has taught me so much in the last year and a half. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that failure is a necessity that allows you the opportunity to try again. Working with databases and building a system that is completely tailored to meet our needs is complex and requires failure along the way to learn. Working in sales operations, I’m analyzing data and making sure processes are running smoothly. When a ‘0’ is missed or a software error occurs, it’s easy to dwell on the one failure, but I’ve learned to have confidence in the systems in place, learn from the mistakes that occur, and remember that not every failure requires a fire drill.

How do you feel the manufacturing industry can do a better job of supporting the growth of emerging leaders?
I think networking events and conference sessions that provide young people with the opportunity to participate in the conversation are crucial to the industry as it continues to grow. Through initiatives like this one, I’m given a platform to share my thoughts. As millennials continue to grow in the industry and take on larger roles with more responsibilities, it would be great to begin that development now. Soft Robotics does a great job checking in with employees of all ages but gives us the room to take action without micromanaging. Having weekly scheduled check-ins with management and offering advice and mentorship tells me I’m considered a team member and an asset to the company, not just a young person.

What about how the industry can better support women?
The industry should continue initiatives like the Packaging and Processing Women’s Leadership Network, and others that promote the importance of being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry. By offering networking events and opportunities to bring everyone together to share ideas helps foster an environment of inclusivity.

What advice do you have for the next generation about getting involved in the industry?
First and foremost: Jump in and get started. There are a lot of great resources out there and attending trade shows is a great way to immerse yourself. Speaking directly with folks from all different facets in the industry is the best way to get involved. I’d say don’t be afraid to think outside the box; this industry is all about expediting processes and being faster and more efficient. If you have an idea, speak up.