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19 Questions With Sam Norpel, Chief Digital Officer, Juvenescence Life

Sam Norpel is the chief digital officer at Juvenescence Life, a division of Juvenescence, a life sciences company targeting the intrinsic mechanisms of aging. She’s also a Women in Retail Leadership Circle member and a former board member! We asked Sam a series of questions about her career and other subjects so you can get to know her better.

  1. What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
    Over the holidays I read “Rituals for Virtual Meetings: Creative Ways to Engage People and Strengthen Relationships” by Glenn Fajardo and Kursat Ozenc. As a startup and primarily virtual organization with team members across the globe, this book really helped me to understand 1.) why eight hours of Zoom calls are exhausting, yet an eight-hour binge of my favorite Netflix series doesn’t have the same affect and, 2.) rituals we can create with our team to make Zoom meetings more productive and inspiring. 
  2. What’s a tip you have for productively leading a remote or hybrid team?
    Besides creating rituals and designing meeting formats to avoid “Zoom fatigue,” I believe the most important thing is to invest in the time for team members to get to bond. Whether that’s taking the time to have free-form conversation about everyone’s weekend on Mondays or when kicking off a large-scale project. At Juvenescence, we kicked off a large-scale digital project in early 2021 with partners across the globe. Instead of meeting for a three-day in-person retreat, we had one-hour onboarding meetings every day over a two-week period. During the first 15 minutes to 20 minutes of each meeting we took the time to do a group team building exercise. For example: What was your first concert without parents? If you could go to dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and what would you have? At the end of the two weeks, the team had really gelled. It’s hard to believe that most of the team I’ve actually never met in person — yet it doesn’t feel that way!
  3. What’s a mistake you made early on in your career?
    Not negotiating for myself. I wrote about the topic of negotiation a few years back. It’s always something that takes me out of my comfort zone, but I’ve gotten much better at it over the years!
  4. What’s the toughest part of being in charge?
    Any tough decision (e.g., organizational changes, reporting structures, layoffs) that has to be made for the better of the business that I know is going to impact someone or the team personally. I always try to handle these situations with the utmost care.
  5. What’s the best way you motivate team members?
    I try to create a vision of where we’re going, what it could look like, and along the way give credit and praise for all the hard work getting us there.
  6. What woman inspires you right now and why?
    Oh gosh, I’m really inspired by so many women every day. Right now I would give a shout-out to all our healthcare workers and working mothers (like my sister and women on my team) that are balancing working full time and caring for young children — with daycare cancellations and virtual schooling. My children are in high school, and I can’t imagine how I would have kept it all together if they were 10 years younger.
  7. What are you looking forward to the most for the industry in 2022?
    My first instinct is to say, “getting back to normal!” However, it would be more accurate to say continuing to innovate and enable the best customer experiences that create a “new normal.”
  8. What’s one thing you look for when interviewing a job candidate?
    There’s never one thing. Authenticity, tenacity and cultural fit. And a specific skill set if it’s required.
  9. What’s something that you learned about yourself in the past year?
    That I can be successful and lead teams in a virtual setting.
  10. What’s your favorite podcast?
    It’s probably blasphemous to admit that I prefer to read vs. listen. Luckily, Brené Brown is a great author and podcaster! She inspires me to be authentic and vulnerable every day.
  11. What values are most important to you as a leader?
    Creating a culture of care, authenticity, transparency and tenacity.
  12. What’s one habit you adopted while working from home that you’d like to keep with you as you return to the office?
    Working out in the mornings!
  13. How would you describe yourself in a single sentence?
    A digital and e-commerce expert, wife and mother; authentic, hard working, right- and left-brained, and imperfect — always striving to become a better leader and person.
  14. What’s your favorite app?
    The one my team is currently building! 😉
  15. What do you do to recharge?
    Take naps!
  16. What’s your biggest accomplishment?
    My marriage and my children. I’m so thankful every day. They feed my soul.
  17. What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
    Always say “yes” to stretch assignments — yes, even if they aren’t paid. This is where you learn and grow.
  18. What gets you up in the morning?
    The excitement of seeing how we did the day prior.
  19. How would you describe your leadership style?
    The same as my values — caring, authentic, transparent and tenacious.

Interested in connecting with women like Sam Norpel? Apply today to become a Women in Retail Leadership Circle member!

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