Meet Suzanne: A fireside chat with ProctorFree’s new COO

Delivering education is a team effort, and our team just got stronger.

At the end of last year, we welcomed Suzanne Flynn Speece to join us as our new chief operating officer. As COO, Suzanne will play a crucial role in the future of our platform. With experience across numerous tech platforms, she brings a unique perspective to ProctorFree as a tech executive, mentor and a mother (learn more about her here). 

We recently sat down with Suzanne to find out about her entrepreneurial mindset and what excites her about ProctorFree. Here’s a quick introduction:

Q: What excites you the most about the opportunity at ProctorFree?

Suzanne: I think about opportunities in multiple factors. First, do I like the founder, and can I work with them? With Mike, that is a resounding yes. 

Second, do I believe the market or problem that the company is trying to solve is real, and do they have a solution for it? I obviously have my own education experiences. My father was a professor. My kids are in school, so I’ve lived through remote learning. I witnessed proctored exams and some of the frustration that happens.

I think there’s a fundamental shift in how we take tests in this post-COVID world. There are a lot of benefits to this remote piece that people will hold onto, such as providing access to people who previously couldn’t take a program. Transcending the restrictions of physical space is a meaningful change. 

The ProctorFree solution is a straightforward, easy solution that people understand. It’s so easy to use, and it’s easy for the test takers. The comfort level around that was all very appealing to me, and I’m excited to help move it forward. 

Q: Looking ahead to 2021, what will be your priorities? 

Suzanne: We have a lot of opportunities to grow and scale our customer base. 2020 was unprecedented in terms of what the expectation was for the company and where we ended up. I think we see a lot more opportunity now building out the team to support our goal, building up the marketing and maybe trying some things we haven’t done in the past. 

A lot of product improvements will come as we grow our client base, and we’re already exploring and finalizing new product functionality that will be released this year. The great news is everyone has really rallied around that and is excited for what’s to come.

Q: What is a milestone in your career that you are particularly proud of?

Suzanne: The exit without a doubt was super exciting [the company was acquired by Amazon]. When you’re an early-stage company, there are just rollercoaster days. You could have what feels like the worst thing happen at 10 a.m., and then at 4 p.m., you win the biggest client you’ve won in the company’s history. And that’s just how it goes. It’s important to take the time to celebrate those milestones. 

Q: What was the best advice you ever received?

Suzanne: The good enough philosophy. I learned that early on in hyper-growth companies. You cannot wait for a product to be perfect to release it, or it will never get anywhere. You have to go with good enough and know that you’re going to iterate on it really quickly to make it better. 

Q: How can we get more women into the tech industry? 

Suzanne: I think mentorship is powerful. My dad was a scientist, and one of his professional missions was to support women graduate students. Talking to them was life-changing. He supported them in ways and believed in them in ways that helped advance their careers. 

There have been several changes on the financial side, with a lot more firms specifically focused on supporting female-founded and female-run businesses, which I think is great. That is a continual process that needs to be constantly nurtured for it to change. I wish things changed overnight, but they do take time. To me, it’s a conscious effort on the mentorship side and the continued focus on the venture capital side to invest in those firms. 

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