The Four Corporate Archetypes

Natasha Mott
7 min readMay 28, 2021


Observing corporate America from the inside has granted me a view that few people can hold. It’s kind of like an optical illusion; Once you see it from another perspective, it’s hard to unsee it.

Unfortunately for me, I saw through the charade early on in my career, and now, I have to ruin it for you, too.

Everyone I met in my corporate experience could be cast into at least one of four personality types. You may know a hybrid, and of course, gender is irrelevant. Work-Too-Hard-Wanda could easily be Work-Too-Hard-Will. He might play Call of Duty instead of Candy Crush. Age and gender may lead to some variation in the archetypes; there are a few more men in the workforce than women and about 75% of the US labor force is under 50.

Defining characteristics

Everyone is different, but you can guess which role your colleagues may fit into by paying attention to a few defining characteristics.

Work-Too-Hard Wanda

  • Moody
  • Workaholic
  • Quick Learner

Get-by Gary

  • Flies under the radar, but gets his work done
  • Rarely overshares, but will sneak off for personal calls almost unnoticed
  • Also known as Get’er-done Gary because he will check the dang boxes

Complainer Carol

  • Usually has an unsolvable quandary
  • She brings personal problems into their work
  • Usually the scape-goat of the team

Shouldn’t-Be-Here Sheena

  • Hates corporate
  • Came from some other background, that they mention frequently
  • Brazen or ignorant, colors outside of the lines


Wanda is a polarizing character. She spins her wheels a lot, but if a company doesn’t have really good Wanda’s they’re not going to get anything done. Wanda belongs in an operations role. She’s a number cruncher, a process follower/inventor. She’s salaried, but The Company is raking it in from her work. Of course, she sees none of the ROI, and gets very little appreciation for her efforts, so she gets pretty bitter.

When Wanda starts, people notice that she’s very smart and good at what she does… so she’s quickly bombarded with lots of work. All of which is a big deal to Wanda. There are a million balls flying around in the corporate playground, and this bitch is catching them all as if her life depended on it. This serves her well if she can turn it down, and catch less balls. Otherwise, she’ll drop all the balls and have a melt-down of sorts.

In general, most people want to steer clear of Wanda. If she’s your colleague, she’s going to make you look bad, and annoy your boss eventually with her thirst for process improvement. She’s a walking ball of stress — and mostly pointless stress at that. She loves spreadsheets, and doesn’t care how useful they are — they work for her. You cannot joke with Wanda, unless it’s on her terms, and only after she’s successfully caught 10 balls for the day.

Wanda can be useful. Gary and Sheena might siphon information off of her, and Carol can complain with her. Wandas might annoy Wandas, unless she hired her. Wandas would compete until it ends up in HR or they become best friends.

If Wanda is your manager, I am sorry, but if you’re a Sheena, you might as well quit now. She will follow corporate procedure to a tee, and you’ll never do it right. Get a transfer or wait for her to burn herself out. If you’re a Get-by Gary you’ll be ok for a minute and even a Complainer Carol. She’ll have a use for both of you.

Wanda thinks The Company is Everything — until she doesn’t. Then The Company is shit, but some Other Company is going to be much better. So she goes there, and the cycle continues until she burns herself out and retires to her quilting club, hiking, or candy crush.

A good Wanda is great, possibly a friend for life. A bad Wanda is horrible.


Gary slips in by the skin of his teeth. He knew someone in another department or worked with someone on the team before. Maybe he played sports with the manager in college.

Gary is a simple man. He’s savvy enough to ride above the wave, keeping his finger on the pulse of what is needed to keep him above a C average. He might even get promoted to manager if he rides the wave long enough.

If he is the manager, life is pretty chill. He wants less work, so mostly he’ll try to get you in and out of calls as quickly as possible. His second concern is looking good to the higher-ups. Help him do these two things, and you’re golden. Life is good under Gary’s reign, but it won’t last long.

The only downside of working with Gary is that you might have to pick up a bit of his slack. If you’re a Sheena, Gary will be your bud. He helps you get by, and laugh at the ridiculousness of corporate life. Garys love other Garys — they can sniff them out a mile away. Gary is the best source to tell you who’s who on the team, as long as he trusts you. Prove yourself to Gary, and you’ll have a partner in crime.

Gary only leaves a position once his luck runs out, or he’s not making money. If he happens to get a Wanda as a manager, he can only last so long until she’s onto him. Then, he’ll never be able to do enough for her.

Garys are great colleagues, just don’t expect them to stick their neck out for you at their own expense. Probably best not to expect anyone to do this except maybe a Wanda or a Sheena.

Complainer Carol

Carol is perpetually on the Struggle Bus. Life has dealt her a raw deal, and you’re going to hear about it.

Carol has some redeeming qualities. She’s an empath. She cares about people. She’s a people person, which is why she feels like she can talk to you — and everyone else. You’ll hear about her pets, kids, neighbors, cousin, friend’s boyfriend, whoever is on her mind for the day. She has no filter.

Make sure you set a timer when you’re talking to Carol. Have a rolling list of excuses to get off the horn with her, or else you will wonder why you can’t get shit done during working hours. Plus, if you’re too nice to Carol, she’ll be calling you outside of work, too.

Carol can get stuff done when she puts her mind to it, but most of the time, there is an excuse as to why she didn’t do the job the way it was supposed to be done. On a rare occasion, she’ll surprise you with some random skill set. She’s a good slide-maker for sure, and she’s a great party planner.

Be careful not to get too involved with Carol if your boss is a Gary. She’s likely to cause Gary some trouble once she realizes that he doesn’t give a shit about her cats.

Carols and Wandas have a love-hate relationship. Wanda loves Carol when she’s in a mood to bitch, but Carol is annoying AF to Wanda when she’s on a mission. Carol tolerates everyone mostly, except other Carols.

As much as she may want to be, Carol will never be the manager.


Sheena’s usually a top performer, but if she’s not, she’s going to get fired sooner rather than later. She doesn’t belong in corporate America, and if she lasts longer than 10 years, she’s on some good drugs. She’s a creative, an entrepreneur, an academic, anything but a shill. She hates it here, but the question is how long can she stomach it.

Gary and Sheena might be rivals at first if one or both of them are competitive, but this rivalry won’t last. Sheena gets along best with Gary because they have a similar mentality — just get the shit done. They see many corporate protocols as counterproductive. If she and Gary are top performers, these two are thick as thieves.

Sheena hates bureaucracy. She may question things that should not be questioned, at times that are not optimal. She doesn’t particularly care about climbing the corporate ladder, but if it pays more money and makes the job more interesting, she’s down.

Sheena gets along with everyone to an extent, but she probably likes other Sheenas best. You will be surprised at the bold things you hear out of Sheena’s mouth. Wanda doesn’t love Sheena. She skips through protocol and is probably far too erratic for Wanda. Wanda can’t understand how Sheena functions. Sheena might listen to Carol’s sob story a few times, but she’ll know just how to get out of it without hurting Carol’s feelings too much. She isn’t Carol’s favorite though.

Sheena doesn’t usually stick around long enough to be the boss, but if she is, she’s hands-off and wasn’t promoted by Wanda. She’s more of an individual contributor.

Full disclosure: The author is a Sheena.

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Full disclosure: The author is a Sheena.