Megan Greer always had a knack for numbers, so it was an easy decision for her to go to business school and then work in finance. But throughout her 20 years in the industry—which included the financial crisis in 2008—she came to realize her job is just as much about people as it is figures.
Her empathetic leadership style, along with her extensive experience, made her a great fit to join fintech company Carta. “Coming from a more traditional corporate environment, Carta’s culture and operating principles were a breath of fresh air,” she says. “I also thought that reshaping the traditional service-based industry of finance through the power of technology was pretty cool!”
As the Head of Venture Capital Delivery at Carta, Greer and her team help clients make the most of the cutting-edge tech infrastructure and automation the company offers. More importantly, she’s dedicated to elevating those around her to become the next generation of leaders.
Here, Greer talks about working in fintech even though she’s not techy, how her perspective on life changed after an unexpected loss, and why anyone can become a leader regardless of their job description.
What drew to pivot into fintech, and specifically at Carta? How did you know the company would be a good fit?
I was introduced to Carta in late 2021 and quickly realized it seemed like a great fit for my experience, and an inspiring challenge for my next career move. I was immediately energized by the notion that I could leverage the skills that I had previously developed through building service-focused, human solution-oriented businesses. Being at the tip of the spear to drive an industry-wide technology transformation within the fund administration space was wildly appealing to me.
Carta was a natural fit for me both culturally and professionally. I always strive to solve complex problems, and the autonomy to tackle the hard stuff was there. I knew of Carta’s pace, bias toward action, relentlessness, gritty problem solving, and transparency, and it was exciting to me. Through my experience, I’m keenly aware how much this matters when scaling a team and the mandate of my role combined with the culture and people gave me confidence that this pivot was a no-brainer.
What are you responsible for in your role?
I lead the venture capital (VC) delivery teams, which are responsible for taking care of anything and everything related to customer service for our venture capital clients. No matter what we are helping our customers with, we strive to deliver a best-in-class client experience and an unparalleled technology platform. Carta VC has experienced tremendous growth and leading the service component of the business translates to almost 350 people across my teams. My role also consists of developing people, strategy, and new ventures, as well as influencing product roadmaps and evolving the service teams.
Given the size and scope of my team, I view my role as one of effectiveness. I can’t possibly have my hand in everything and I think a lot about how I can help or influence those around me to be the most confident and effective at their piece of the puzzle.
What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?
One of the strategic initiatives that we’ve been working on is to “automate audit.” Any accountant will understand how ambitious this goal is given that Q1 generally requires three times the work, there are multiple organizations involved, and there is no industry-wide standard process or ample level of automation (hello workpapers!). We aren’t limiting ourselves to improvement just through product automation, but also partnerships with key audit partners so that our vision can help the broader venture capital ecosystem develop a standard and scale together.
What is a common misconception about working in fintech and how would you respond to it?
That you have to be techy. Yes, we are building elegant product solutions to solve hard problems, but in any business and industry, the people matter. There are so many transferable skills from traditional finance and other industries that add value in the tech world. Understanding that a tech pivot is possible and demonstrating that as a successful path are important to me.
What has been the greatest challenge you’ve experienced in your career, especially as a woman in a predominantly male field, and how did you overcome it?
When I was pregnant with my first child, I knew how difficult it would be to return from parental leave. At that time, in-office work was king, and I had to leave the office at 5 p.m. to pick up my son from daycare. While I managed through my own insecurity around this, I was keenly aware that I had an opportunity to model this transition successfully for others just by showing up and being open and honest as I worked to figure it all out. Over time and somewhat organically, I realized that other women started coming to me for advice or support. It really clicked for me that “you can’t be what you can’t see,” and I was enabling others to walk the same path behind me.
What have been the keys to your success in balancing your career with parenthood?
What has helped me is being realistic that balance is a moving target and that various moments in your life may warrant a disproportionate split of focus on home or work, and that’s OK. I have always believed that empathy is an important aspect to leading people successfully; I also believe that being transparent regarding broader life circumstances enables empathy and support at work to show up as your full self, wherever you may be in that moment.
To give you an example, I was unexpectedly widowed at age 39 and my sons were 8, 6, and 3 at the time. As you might imagine, my balance was tilted to making sure my family was OK, processing the loss of my husband of 12 years, and leading my young sons through grief. In a lot of ways, this life event snapped everything into focus for me. Now, I don’t sweat the small stuff, I have perspective as to what a real issue is, I value deep human connection, I accept help, I know how to survive, and I know that it’s OK to sometimes not be OK.
What advice do you have for other women who are striving to achieve leadership roles?
My favorite advice is to push people to remember that leadership and management are two different things. Leadership is something anyone at any level can promote and emanate, while management is a requirement of a certain level of position. Meaning, even as an entry-level person or a more senior individual contributor, you can strive to develop your leadership voice.
Influence, strategic thinking, and your ability to guide others are part of your job responsibilities at all levels, even if it’s not explicitly in the job description. This can show up in subtle ways. Perhaps by adopting a new process and then sharing more broadly how it has helped. Or by sharing technical or business information to bring the next person along. Or by being courageous enough to speak up with feedback on top-down initiatives or a sub-optimal process, and learning how to do it in a positive, constructive way. Remember, there is no specific checklist to leadership and watching the traits of leaders who inspire you is often a good starting point to finding your authentic style.
Tell us a little bit about your passions and interests outside of work.
I am an advocate for mental health services and am on the board of Thresholds, Chicago’s oldest and largest provider of mental illness and substance use recovery services. My late husband had bipolar disorder and suffered in silence for many years. I was his caretaker and advocate, and witnessed firsthand how broken the mental health system is. After his passing in 2019, I found that trying to help with this widespread crisis was a way to process my own grief, to honor him, and attempt to help in some small way through advocacy.
Thresholds does tremendous work offering home, health, and hope for the most underserved communities living with mental illness and substance use disorders across Chicagoland.
What’s your go-to activity to unwind after work these days?
Ha, unwind? Well, I have a lovely life post-loss and am engaged to be married. Unwinding often looks like fun adventures or movie night with my now five kids and new husband-to-be!