How She Got There: Christa Quarles, CEO of Alludo

We sat down with Christa Quarles to discuss the twists and turns of her career that have led to her current position as Alludo’s CEO

During her time as a financial analyst, Christa Quarles found her calling in the tech industry. Now, at the helm of software company Alludo, Christa shares the twists and turns of her career that have led her to success. 

This is the story of how she got there. 

Early influences and education 

Christa grew up in western Pennsylvania as one of seven siblings. Her dad worked at a steel company and her mum was a teacher. Christa enjoyed school and as a student, she was definitely driven to succeed. “I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that, as a kid, my large family provided strong motivation to stand out,” Christa says. “Overachieving was a way to build my identity. Whether it was academics or extracurriculars, school was something I could really throw myself into.” 

After graduating high school, Christa went on to earn a BS in Economics and German from Carnegie Mellon University and went on to receive her MBA from Harvard Business School

Yet Christa expresses that technology wasn’t at the forefront of what she studied, and at the start of her career, she didn’t necessarily envision herself going into tech. “Of course, life has a way of taking you down interesting paths,” Christa explains. “My first foray into the tech world came while I worked as a financial analyst covering tech. That piqued my interest in the industry and I’ve been all in ever since. 

“I’m energised by possibility and the opportunity to reimagine things, and I’m fortunate that I’ve had this opportunity multiple times. Early in my career, I was working at Thomas Weisel, a west coast boutique investment bank, as a financial analyst covering the tech space. In this role, I was brushing shoulders with CEOs from a variety of organisations, constantly trying to understand their strategy and business models to figure out if they were going to be the next big IPO. 

“I realised that during these conversations, I had never felt more energised. I would think about their organisation and where it could go. I had all these ideas, and I had this incredible landscape of what I thought was needed to optimise success.”  

After some time as an analyst, Christa looked at herself in the mirror and thought, “Why am I standing on the sidelines?” So, in 2009, she left to go to a tech startup. That startup was bought by The Walt Disney Company less than a year later. “My time at Disney is to this day one of my career highlights,” she shares. “I was promoted and transitioned from being a straight-up financial professional to an overall GM operator. 

“I was able to really show my value when I had my own P&L inside of Disney. It was here that I came into my own because I could explore and reimagine what’s possible. I thrive at the intersection of data and vision. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to have wonderful opportunities including at OpenTable and now Alludo (formerly Corel).”

Life at Alludo

Now, as the CEO of Alludo, Christa is on a mission to reimagine the future of work by giving people space and time to create, ideate, and share – whether that’s through stunning graphics and art, brainstorming, or providing secure environments that enable people to be productive anywhere. 

To Christa, being a leader doesn’t just mean hitting ambitious KPIs; she prioritises creating a work culture that lets each of Alludo’s teammates bring the full force of their talents and perspectives to the workplace every day. “I want our business to be synonymous with celebrating people and enabling them to achieve their best work,” she says.

Yet she recognises that the world has changed since the pandemic and for many of us, our priorities have shifted. “Knowledge workers have had a taste of freedom and flexibility unlike ever before. The genie is out of the bottle, and many of us are not particularly interested in getting back to a ‘normal’ working life (in fact, three-quarters of us aren’t, according to a recent survey we conducted), Christa shares. “The 9-5 grind has lost its appeal.

“At Alludo, we recognise that much of the talk about remote and hybrid work still assumes a rigid schedule and input-based expectations. We’re taking things a big step beyond that by consciously dismantling generations of notions about what work ‘should’ look and feel like. Our goal is to improve outcomes by giving people true freedom at work.  

“I think we have this incredible opportunity to redefine the work experience for both our employees and our customers, and this is a fundamental mission for me as CEO."

Reflecting on career challenges and achievements

Although Christa has been incredibly fortunate, she highlights that it wasn’t all smooth sailing, as she highlights that being a woman in corporate settings can come with inherent challenges. “There was a period in my career when I wasn’t succeeding,” Christa says. “I felt like I was holding on for dear life to avoid falling and now, I realise that I got stuck. 

“Over time, I’ve learned that if you’re in a situation like this, what’s on the other side is always better. You just have to believe it’s there. In retrospect, if I could go back and speed up that realisation a little quicker, I definitely would.”

Christa has been at Alludo for over two years now, and is still well and truly enjoying the role. “When taking on a new role and starting to make it my own, I like to lay out the groundwork and build up from there,” she says. “My first year at the company was all about putting the pieces on the chessboard. In 2022, we were ready to play. 

“As CEO, I’ve been focused on a path of transformation – bringing in fresh talent, a new style of leadership, and breaking down silos. For me, the highlight has been experiencing all these ideas being realised. Seeing how far we’ve already come has been incredibly rewarding.”  

Words of encouragement to her past self  

“If I could give my past self advice, I would tell her not to be afraid to dream big,” she says. “There were so few women at the C-suite level when I was a kid, that it’s hard to aspire to be what you can’t see. 

“I’m fortunate to have had many wonderful mentors and sources of inspiration along the way, but that lack of representation at the top still persists. I might also tell her to get into yoga even earlier. 

“I’ve found that many breakthroughs can occur when you’re upside-down for a few moments. Standing on my head is an amazing way to find clarity. 


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