5 Questions in 5 Minutes with Michelle Leibowitz

October 26, 2022

So, you’ve worked for several different companies in a wide range of industries. Can you shed some light on your career backstory and how you made your way to RPCK as its Director of Administration & Operations?

After trying my hand in marketing at Conde Nast and an accounting firm and then at Douglas Elliman as a real estate agent, I landed in the Executive Office of Goldman Sachs and quickly realized it was a great fit for me. Goldman also thought it was a great fit and I was soon offered a role working for the Chairman & CEO of Goldman Sachs in June 2007 that I could not turn down. I was on the front lines of the financial crisis and learned a lot about leadership during that time.

I learned many lessons during my nearly 10 years working at Goldman, many of which got me to where I am today. I loved working with smart, ambitious people and I was learning something new and was mentally stimulated every day. I developed a high standard of excellence, which is greatly valued at RPCK.

I always knew I wanted to do more, so I worked hard to secure a spot in the NYU Stern part-time MBA program which I attended while also continuing to work for the CEO of Goldman. As my program came to an end, a role opened up in the firm’s brand and content strategy team which was a newer team tasked with improving Goldman’s brand reputation post-financial crisis.

In that role, I had the good fortune of working on a really inspirational project that I credit with setting me on my path to impact investing. I managed the marketing for Goldman’s 10,000 Women program, a well-known global initiative that provides education, opportunities, and access to capital for women entrepreneurs around the world to grow their businesses and support global economic growth.

I was really proud of that work. I loved going to work every day and I loved being able to tell these women’s stories. This wasn’t traditional impact investing but looking back on it there were a lot of similarities between that work and the work I do now because it was rooted in the ideas of giving back, telling stories, caring, and having a sense of greater purpose.

After I finished my MBA, I relocated to Los Angeles for warmer weather and began consulting. Two of my biggest clients, Aera VC, a startup impact investing venture capital firm, and the Mobile Marketing Association hired me in a more formal capacity. I left Mobile Marketing Association right before COVID hit, so during the pandemic, I had time to reflect and do some soul searching. I wanted to go back to doing more organizational and executive work, and through pure luck, I was connected with Chintan Panchal, RPCK founder. Chintan and I had similar work ethics, similar beliefs, and similar values so I started doing some consulting work for him and within a couple of weeks, he told me he’d want to bring me on board full time.

You’ve worked in so many different corporate environments. How does working at RPCK compare?

While RPCK is still a corporate environment, it’s not like any other workplace I’ve ever experienced. The difference is that at RPCK, I still get to use all the skills I’ve developed, but I get to do it in a place with a positive atmosphere that is aligned with my values.

When I’m interviewing candidates, we obviously talk a lot about impact investing, and what I’ve found so interesting is that when you look at the people in the impact industry, one of the biggest takeaways is that they are good people who care enormously about the bigger picture. It’s not just about doing a good job – it’s about creating something with our clients that can have a real, tangible impact on people’s lives and the world we live in. That is something that really attracted me to RPCK.

I think the fact that I’ve had such a positive experience — as a non-attorney who isn’t involved with the legal side of the business — really speaks to the strengths of the firm. It’s not just the clients, it’s not just the work, but it’s the company and its people as a whole that makes it a wonderful place to have a fulfilling career. RPCK is a place where people have high expectations of themselves and do interesting and rewarding work on a daily basis. What creates such a unique culture is the camaraderie among a team of kind, talented people who are all working hard towards the same goal.

What’s your role at the firm?

For me, no two days of work are the same. A lot of my work is in Human Resources, which I love. Because the firm is growing, I do a lot of interviews to find new hires. I like being people’s first introduction to RPCK — interviewing, helping with onboarding, and creating a supportive foundation from the moment a person joins the team. I think RPCK does a really good job of priming the candidates and getting them excited to learn about and eventually become a part of the firm. I also build and oversee firm policies and procedures, take care of marketing-related projects, oversee support staff, and help with anything on the non-legal side of the business. Doing all these things keeps me on my toes, but I love being in an intellectually stimulating and challenging atmosphere, and my job is both of those things on a daily basis.

What are some things that you love about RPCK?

Where should I start? I love the firm, I love my role at the firm, and I love the people that I work with. I always tell interviewees during the interview process that we have an unofficial “no jerks” policy. And it’s true. I like all my colleagues and I genuinely feel like we care about each other. One important thing for me is that even though I’m not a lawyer, I’m still very much an equal part of the team and I’ve always been treated as such. RPCK is one of those rare places where our culture and values are in alignment with what we’re trying to achieve for our clients. In my opinion, a positive work environment starts at the top; Chintan has created a very positive and supportive atmosphere, and that positivity and support trickles down. It makes a very big difference to have somebody like him heading up the company and putting that expectation in place.

How is RPCK different from other legal firms in this sector?

 Because I’m fairly removed from our clients and the actual legal work we do, I can answer this question from a unique perspective. RPCK is different because we live our values. One of our big priorities is creating a culture where diversity thrives and people can be their whole selves at work. And when I say diversity – I mean this in the most expansive, inclusive way. From my end, I’m constantly taking into account how diverse our team is and the subsequent diversity of needs. I’ll ask myself, “Is this going to resonate with someone who is doing remote work? Is this standard the most conducive way for everyone to learn? Will this help create an atmosphere where everyone feels included?”

As we grow and become even more diverse, RPCK has blossomed — each person on the team offers a unique perspective. I just try to be hyper-aware of our policies and decisions to make sure that things are going to work for everybody. I want to help maintain a work environment where everyone is included, feels cared for, and is excited to be here. I’m excited for the future and for where we’re going, and I’m excited that my work interviewing and hiring, as well as the operational policies and procedures, are a part of the effort to build the foundation for the firm to continue to grow.

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