A day in the life of an operations director

By Lydia Clarke
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A day in the life of an Operations Director

Hello! My name is Lydia Clarke, and I’m the director of West Coast operations for Acclaro. I’m based in Northern California and have worked at Acclaro for nearly 16 years. I’m excited to show you what a typical day looks like.

Sun salutations

My day starts around 7 a.m. If I’m lucky, I get a few minutes to myself before my three boys wake up. If I’m feeling ambitious, I either meditate for 10 minutes or, on a good day, settle in for a half-hour yoga session. Once the boys are up, it’s on to tea for me and breakfast for them.

On dry days, which are frequent here in Northern California, I drag them outdoors for a loop around our hilly block to get our hearts pumping before we all sit down to our new lives full of screen time.

My work meetings generally start between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Each morning, I spend time collaborating with internal teams of program managers, project managers and engineers to push through program initiatives and make sure everyone has what they need. I also touch base with clients to chart the progress of those initiatives, talk about upcoming work and strategize our way through any challenges that have come up on recent projects.

Similarly, I connect with different management teams to report on goals and brainstorm the best ways for our teams to work together. Finally, I help support the Acclaro sales team on late-stage opportunities by meeting potential clients to showcase Acclaro’s operations capabilities.

Between early meetings, I scan and triage my unread email. Several of my clients work in Europe and Asia, and much of the communication for those accounts happens while I’m sleeping. There’s a lot of email in my inbox every morning. I lead the support structure for multiple accounts, and I like to stay informed. I look at every email that comes across my desk, and I flag the ones that require action. I prioritize those in order of urgency and logistics and work on handling them throughout my day.

Midday flow

On a good day, I have a few blocks of time that are not filled with program or team meetings. When I have those, I use them to work down the list of actionable items from my inbox.

Once I’m done with the most time-sensitive emails, I move on to my own running list of to dos, including goals for the programs I run, interviews for new positions and corporate initiatives. These tasks require intense focus, so I often try to reserve a full hour for each one. That way, I can really concentrate and make progress.

An uninterrupted hour is hard to come by these days. With the lockdown still firmly holding us in place, my entire family is home all day. My younger boys have many breaks in their virtual school day, and they like to wander in and out of my office, offering balloons, wanting an audience for magic tricks or simply asking for a snuggle. Those requests are the hardest to turn down, so I don’t! But, because my webcam is on for most meetings, my colleagues have gotten to know all my kids quite well in the last 12 months!

My team is made up of really fabulous people that work all around the world, from right here in California to Argentina and Europe. We work closely with folks from other teams as well. They, too, are widely distributed, from project managers and engineers in Thailand to multimedia specialists in Ireland to publishing leads in Boston. Needless to say, our Zoom calls are populated by people in many time zones. It’s important to me that my team feels supported, not just as professionals, but also in this crazy COVID-19 time, as people. At least one of my meetings every day is a one-on-one with a member of my team. I typically start by checking in on family pets (hi, Winston and Dixie!) and other light topics. Then, we move to discussing projects, client communication, challenges, solutions and bandwidth. Work-life balance has been hard to maintain this past year, and ironically, I spend time convincing my team to work LESS.

Evening wind down

Trying to maintain balance is hard advice to take myself, though I try to set a good example. My scheduled meetings normally take me through the end of the day. I try to make progress on any flagged emails that have arrived during my working hours plus any action items from the day’s meetings. I step away between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to make dinner, and we eat together as a family every night. It’s the highlight of my day. After dinner, I get back to my computer once more before it gets too late. At that point, I triage any late-evening emergencies, flag emails for action the next morning or wrap up any team chats I’d started earlier. Then I put the machine to sleep and start my real evening with my family.

Acclaro | A Day in the Life of an Operations Director


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