Heather O’Neill Becomes a Managing Partner at Above the Fold
A great business partner is not easy to find. When you start a business, it’s rare to find someone who will be as invested in it as you are, who can share in its hopes and aspirations as well as its trials and setbacks, and who’s willing to help make the hard decisions in addition to the easy ones.
Shortly after founding Above the Fold, I thought, “I really need a business partner.” I spent time trying to recruit someone for the role because I thought that was how businesses were able to scale quickly. But I never hired anyone because it seemed like no one I interviewed was as passionate about my business as I was, and I soon stopped looking.
A year later, I hired my first employee: Heather O’Neill. She was hired as the Director of Operations, but initially 80% of her time was spent doing project management. Heather quickly immersed herself in the field of design and user experience, and once we hired an additional project manager, Heather split her time between PM duties and business operations.
In her operations role, she demonstrated that she had the qualities of a leader. She was responsible for creating the process that allowed Above the Fold to deliver quality communications, scheduling and agreements to our clients. She managed the financial planning, bookkeeping and relationships with vendors. In addition, she took care of our employees by helping them with their work, meeting with them for 1-on-1s each week to check in and address their concerns, and fostering a great company culture by introducing fun things we can do as a team – from early theme park outings up to recent events such as this summer’s Cape Cod Retreat.
And Heather didn’t stop there. She dove into the field of user research so that we could offer it as a service to our clients, pushing Above the Fold to truly embody our “user experience design agency” label. She took it a step further by conducting Usability Testing Workshops locally and abroad. Along the way she also orchestrated one of the best-run conferences in technology and UX in Cambridge. Her devotion to research and thought leadership has not only brought her well-deserved recognition as a leader in the community, but has also tremendously improved the value of Above the Fold as an agency.
On top of all of this, our years of working together have taught both Heather and me that our strengths and weaknesses complement each other in a big way. Over time we’ve been able to play off those strengths to make Above the Fold a major player in the User Experience Design space, and to build a company that we are both very proud of.
Looking back on the early days of the business, it’s clear that I didn’t need to go looking for a partner. I just needed to go with the flow and let relationships grow up from inside the organization, until the right business partner became evident.
Heather is that person. I am thrilled to announce the start of our official partnership as co-owners of Above the Fold – in truth, this is the formalization of a partnership between us that has already existed for a long time.
Above the Fold is not just my creation; it’s ours. Her leadership over the past 5 years, in the areas of project management, finances, operations, customer research, events management, business strategy and others, has made Above the Fold what it is today. I am very fortunate to have her as a partner, and I couldn’t imagine a more suitable person for the role than she.