Profiling Our Staff: Katarina Cook, Chief of Staff
by Daniela Schwartz
WE'RE TAKING A CLOSER LOOK AT THE INTERESTING LIVES OF OUR TEAM--WHEN THEY AREN’T WORKING ON MANAGING THE FIRST SOCIAL IMPACT INCUBATOR FOR HIGH SCHOOL ENTREPRENEURS.
How did you first hear about Elix?
I’ve been friends with both Isabella and Haley for a very long time, as we went to elementary and middle school together. I saw the beginnings and launch of Elix and I wanted to become a part of the team and provide what I had to offer in order to get the company off the ground!
What does your job as Chief of Staff entail?
I’m a human organizer essentially. We always have a lot going on, millions of deadlines approaching and reaching out to people, so I ensure that everyone knows what they need to do, and that no one is too overloaded with work. I also act as a sounding board for the other officers. Essentially, I make sure there is cohesion and work flow within the company.
What made you interested in directing the staff of the company?
As my job requires, I’m very good at organizing and getting my work done. I always stay on top of my own work with ease, and I actually find overseeing everyone else’s work rather fun. My organization capability is one of my most distinguished traits, and a number of my peers have commended me for it. I pitched this when I was looking to become Chief of Staff, and I think everyone agreed thatit is the perfect job for me, given this attribute of mine.
So it seems like you don’t procrastinate much, which is something that a lot of students do too often. What helps you not get distracted? Any advice to other teenagers?
When it comes to preventing procrastination, I live by the mantra “work before pleasure.” I just drive myself to complete my work with the motivation and line of reasoning that the sooner I get this work done, the sooner I get to spend time with my family or friends, draw and paint, or out on a hike or a run.
What is it like to direct people who are your own age? Do you think it’s easier because you can relate with one another, or harder to gain their attention and respect?
I personally love working with my peers because I love seeing the innovative ideas that people my own age can come up with, and I think that we all understand each other in ways that others in mixed aged settings can’t.
I have yet to face an issue, as everyone at Elix is very respectful and recognizes when things need to be done and when they need to be serious. With discipline, of course I don’t want to be the bad guy, but we’re all driven by a common motivation, and over time, I’ve become more comfortable in a management position and ensuring that all is running smoothly.
How do you balance your school work with Elix?
I make sure to compartmentalize. When it’s time for school, I focus on school and when it’s time for Elix, I focus on Elix. When I get home in the afternoon, I complete my homework, and then shift my attention to my Chief of Staff work, which usually entails looking over the work of others. After I complete what I need to for Elix, I can get to chores, being with my family or catching up on House of Cards.
What things do you do when you aren’t working for Elix?
I really like to draw. I do graphic design work for Elix and art projects on my own time occasionally. I also greatly enjoy painting as I’ve done for years, but a few years back I shifted to digital art. Additionally, I love being outdoors and spending time in the beautiful area that I live in. Lastly, I have a knack for both finding second hand clothing and reselling clothing online. It’s actually become rather lucrative!
Before you joined Elix, what did you imagine your junior year being like?
I thought my junior year would going to be harder than it’s been. Obviously there’s aspects that have been tough, but I’ve really surprised myself with my capabilities to overcome and push through my stress and produce work that I’m really proud of. Elix has certainly influenced aspects of my life this year through connecting me with such incredible teens and introducing me into the business world which I have always been interested in. I want to pursue medicine and public health, but Elix has fueled my innovative nature, and brought out an entrepreneur that I didn’t know was in me.
Last but not least, what is a quirky fact that most people may not know about you?
In sixth grade I won my school’s spelling bee. I participated in the spelling bee for years and would spend weeks looking over the official booklet with all the spellings and pronunciations, and I actually won! I had lost to artichoke one year, I remember that, and I won to the word appendix. I still have the trophy, which is one of the only physical trophies I’ve gotten. It sits on a desk in my house now.