We couldn’t start off Women’s History Month without profiling one of the many bad-ass women at String and Key. Today, meet Ariane Strombom, legal lady-boss, and our resident midwesterner.
Company Role: General Counsel & Compliance Officer
Most likely to: Make an impromptu award-winning gourmet meal
Secret talent: Interior design
In those initial college years where most are mulling over their options before deciding their major, Ariane already had it all figured out — and she had it figured out EARLY. She was going to be a lawyer, end of story. And as someone who knew what she wanted (and, more importantly, how to get it), Ariane was globe-trotting from Doha to London to get some pre-law-school professional experience a mere two weeks after completing her undergrad degree.
Now, if you know Ariane, you’ll know that going abroad was not only a means to getting invaluable experience, it was also kinda a family tradition. You see, she’s a first-generation American born to immigrant parents (mom is Argentinian, and Dad is from New Zealand), and comes from a long line of nomads.
Returning to the midwest with some cool global nonprofit experience in her back pocket, Ariane enrolled in law school at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and found her forever home in the process). After graduating, she kicked off her law career at a mid-sized firm where she developed her passion for tech law. After some time spent working for in-house law departments — merging business objectives with legal considerations and getting some marketing, advertising, and strategy know-how along the way, she hopped aboard the String and Key train, and well, we don’t think she’ll be disembarking anytime soon.
As our first in-house legal counsel AND first working mom, Ariane is blazing her own trail as a woman in leadership at String and Key. So read on to learn more of her story and see what it means to be a woman working in tech today.
What do you do, and what does your typical workday look like?
I start my weeks with one-on-one meetings with my fellow senior leadership team members. I like to have a good idea of what’s going on across the organization to figure out what legal or compliance issues may come up in the course of their days or weeks. That also just provides a good opportunity to connect personally as well (one of the great things about S&K is that we’re all cool people).
I’m a problem solver at my core, so that’s really what guides me. On a typical day, you might find me negotiating third-party contracts, attending meetings where I’m asked to provide advice from a legal or compliance perspective, drafting internal policies, or working on regulatory or corporate governance issues. Overall, I’m responsible for spotting every legal or compliance issue that might come up, advising the business owner on the risks and potential mitigating controls, and seeing the issue through to resolution.
What’s your favorite part about working at String and Key?
It’s really refreshing to have authenticity highlighted at S&K. After working in corporate environments for most of my legal career, it’s been nice to move away from corporate customs and be pushed to be true to who I am and valued for the unique perspectives I bring to the table.
Also, S&K challenges me in a lot of positive ways. I intentionally jumped from being a specialist to being a generalist; from being at a large corporate organization to being at a startup; to being based in the midwest, to working for an east-coast-based company. All of those contextual (yet intentional) challenges have allowed me to adapt the way I approach my work. In addition, Alex, our CEO, is really good at pushing me to evolve my thinking in the moment. And that approach pays off — it’s easy to see how smart, committed, supportive, and motivated our team is, in part because of the culture of growth that String and Key fosters.
What are the values that drive you?
I value stability and growth. For me, it’s about having a stable base with the resources and foundational elements I need to push myself to a new level of self-awareness, understanding, and professional growth.
What’s one thing — either industry-related or not — that you’ve learned in the last month?
I’ve been doing yoga regularly, especially with the pandemic, and Yoga With Adriene on YouTube is my go-to. I’ve been getting more into mindfulness and the connection between mindfulness and the body — and using yoga as a conduit for that.
If you could swap places with anyone at String and Key, who would it be and why?
I’d pick Jasmin, our senior copywriter. I love writing and turning drafts from raw form into a finished state while thinking about tone and other creative elements is fascinating. Though much of my job is writing legalese, Jasmin gets to have much more fun with language than I do!
What’s an interesting fact about yourself?
What unexpected subject could you give a one-hour presentation on with no advance prep?
I would share my top tips on how to make a killer charcuterie board! First, I recommend picking a theme. And then thinking about how to vary that theme from a textural and visual perspective, perhaps including something crunchy, creamy, colorful, or salty. Though I enjoy savory flavors more, I always make sure to include a little something sweet — some chocolate, or candied nuts, or honey for drizzling. And being intuitive with it is very important — just trusting yourself to pack in a bunch of great flavors and going with it.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
I’m constantly updating my home — finding new ways to arrange furniture, or painting a room, or reorganizing a drawer scratches my interior design itch. On top of that, I love cooking new things — there’s been a couple of recipes floating around the internet for bagels recently, so I’m going to tackle that next. Dreaming of travel is another one. Travel has always been a big part of my life, so it’s odd not to have that as an outlet. Also, I’ve been reading more lately and I’m getting back into French existentialism, which I feel is very apt for a pandemic. “The Stranger” by Albert Camus is on my bedside table right now — it’s very depressing but also enlightening, in a way.
Can you list five hashtags that describe your personality?
#ProblemSolver #MomBoss #ModernDesign #Foodie #WorldTraveler