An entrepreneurial spirit drives this business development manager’s ‘hobbies,’ and crafts a menu of creativity and understanding for her clients and coworkers.
There’s no such thing as a little project with Sara Cannon, a manager on Theorem’s business development team. Sara commits to any fresh venture with eyes and arms wide open, hungry for the new challenges it promises, and ready to work with her team to get the job done right.
"My hobbies are probably more accurately side-hustles,” she says. “They’re all pretty intense!"
For example, it wasn’t off-brand for Sara when she and her husband, Fred, bought a 100-year-old fixer-upper. This “little” home improvement project is a huge undertaking to manage within a timeline and budget. But Sara isn’t intimidated by the size or the scope of any project she’s served and tries to take something away from the experience to add to her toolkit of problem-solving tactics or organizational skills.
In her role at Theorem, Sara supports “house” or key accounts—those top companies who come back to Theorem again and again for assistance developing new products or transforming the structure of the business that surrounds them.
"My goal is to continue to deepen those relationships,” she says, “and show them all of the areas of Theorem they haven’t had exposure to yet."
Filling Her Plate
Somehow Sara still found bandwidth for another “hobby:” starting a brewery. Her business partner Greg is a craft beer and brewing aficionado for over 15 years and takes on most of the day-to-day duties (especially since COVID-19 halted most taproom business). As the country opens up more, business is expanding again.
“I was just there to help him initially,” Sara says of her business savvy, the perfect accompaniment to Greg’s deep industry expertise. “And then I fell in love with it.”
Their nano-brewery, Spring Hill Brewing, has been operating for three years creating small batches of farmhouse-style ales and holding events of all sizes. Sara credits the company’s survival during the pandemic to their ability to be nimble and scrappy. She likens it to the dynamic of a well-oiled, agile software project team (although perhaps with fewer kanban boards).
“Everyone who is involved has complementary characteristics that really allow us to fill in around each other,” she says. “It’s literally the leanest team because it has to be.”
Think Like a Boss
As a small business owner, Sara describes herself as “always chewing on a problem,” and thinks that same spirit translates very well to working at Theorem. She understands how much her clients care about the success of their projects because she can identify with how they think.
“I can see beyond just getting a project done,” she says. “You’re responsible for livelihoods sometimes, you’re putting your neck out for something that you believe in–who better to relate to that than someone who is also living it?”
Sara’s past work roles and lived experiences give her a perspective that enables her to be in service to her clients at her “day job” at Theorem. She can view a project through the lens of a team member as well as an entrepreneur, fine-tuning abilities like:
- Big-picture thinking
- Event planning
- Employee management
- Team/Relationship building
Since Theorem is fully remote, there is flexibility to take on things outside of work. Sara knows how important this is to her own sense of fulfillment, and can see how it attracts other well-rounded employees who are more content because they have the work-life balance needed to support their interests.
There’s a true appreciation for the varied backgrounds and interests of its employees, which is important to the longevity of talent,” Sara says.
Diversity In Culture & Thought
Having both feet firmly planted in male-dominated industries–tech and beer–often reminds Sara of the patriarchal obstacles she has faced.
“In craft beer and in tech alike, there simply aren’t enough women involved yet for their presence to not feel like an anomaly, especially as you move upwards towards the leadership level,” Sara says. “Companies should always treat this imbalance like a business problem to be solved, not something that should be left to hope it organically improves. I think Theorem is exceptionally thoughtful about this.”
However, Sara realizes she experiences privilege too, as a white woman. In the past, she has experienced forms of discrimination ranging from casual sexism to outright harassment, but she tries to remain conscious that she has certain advantages based on her own background.
“The instances of inequity I’ve experienced aren’t the same as what people endure based on things like race, gender identity, or sexual orientation—because I can almost always safely stand up where it might literally be dangerous for others to do so,” she says. “I can only strive to take my experiences and be more empathetic, whether it’s championing other underserved demographics, helping to coordinate diversity and inclusion efforts, or even speaking up.”
Working at Theorem is not like anywhere else she’s worked—she calls it “refreshing.” As a fully distributed team, Theorem has talent from all over the world, but Sara noticed right away that leadership is very consciously pushing to achieve a safe, supportive and healthy workplace where many different types of people will feel comfortable.
“Theorem treats diversity initiatives as a fundamental part of achieving diversity in thought,” she adds, “and it sets us apart from other companies that are so homogenous culturally that it limits them creatively and technically.”