How Asking Questions Advanced This Assistant’s Career To Head Of Talent

Laura Sapp, head of talent at IAC, oversees executive recruitment, talent management and internal growth and mobility for IAC Corporate and its portfolio of leading media and technology businesses, including Vimeo, Dotdash, The Daily Beast and BlueCrew. Having started her career nearly 20 years ago as an assistant to IAC Chairman Barry Diller, she understands the drive, talent and skills required to build and maintain a successful career. IAC builds companies guided by curiosity, a questioning of the status quo and a desire to invent or acquire new products and brands. From the single seed that started as IAC over two decades ago has emerged 10 public companies. Today, IAC has majority ownership of both Match Group, which includes Tinder, Match, PlentyOfFish and OkCupid, and ANGI Homeservices, which includes HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List and Handy.

“I’ve always been challenged by Joey [Levin, CEO] and our internal leaders to look internally at our talents and make sure that we’re using and utilizing folks in the best possible capacity.” Sapp explains, “Also, making sure that we’re responding to people’s career paths and helping them make those moves.”

Sapp started her career as Diller’s assistant. She acknowledges that at the time of the hire, she wasn’t quite sure what she was doing or how she was going to do her work. However, she kept showing up day after day and forged a relationship with Diller. “He was a kind person who realized that I was a fresh grad,” Sapp smiles while reminiscing about her time as an assistant. “He really taught me an endless amount about opportunities, making the most of them and crafting my communication skills.”

Today In: Leadership

He challenged her to focus on the bigger picture and see things from a different perspective. The more she proved herself, the more challenges he gave her. She began hiring for him. By the end of her tenure, she was performing the tasks of what a traditional human resources manager would be conducting. “After years of honing my craft and building the confidence in myself that I had honed these skills,” Sapp shares, “I saw an HR manager position at IAC…No one handed me the job. I had an interview. Over the years, I had built my relationships internally. So, when that job came open, I raised my hand and said, ‘I want a shot at this and I’m willing to put everything on the line.’ Thankfully, I had great mentorship within the company. They put me through the interview process, and I got the job.”

Eventually, Sapp transitioned to one of the internal brands. The company asked her to be the director of HR. She decided she wanted to challenge herself. Although the company wound up folding, during her time there, she had over 100 employees under her and basically became a partner of the organization. Her former boss had become the VP of HR at the Match Group and asked Sapp if she would like to join her team; she’s spent the last nine years of her career building a reputable culture. Throughout all of her career moves, Sapp has maintained her relationships. When the opportunity to become head of talent arose, she reached out to her network.

“I asked a lot of questions,” Sapp explains about her career pivots. “No one’s ever going to offer a job blatantly if you’re not there asking questions trying to get to the conversation and trying to get through the door. You have to be persistent but also got to know when enough is enough.”

As Sapp continues to navigate her career, she focuses on the following essential steps to help with each transition:

  • Know your skill set. It’s equally important to understand what you’re not good at in the moment. Survey your peers and colleagues to solidify what you hold to be true.
  • Develop confidence in yourself. When you believe in yourself, others will too, and it will help you take the risk needed to level up in your career.
  • Ask for what you want. No one is just going to hand it to you; you have to go out and ask for what you deserve.

“I asked a lot of questions,” Sapp concludes. “I took a lot of people out for dinners and drinks and coffees. I just tried to be as curious as I could.”


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