September 5, 2012
In this digital age, face-to-face meetings are becoming more rare as people take their networking online. In this 1:1 interview Lisa Rodwell, chief revenue officer of MOO.com, an award-winning and innovative online printing company, tells us how the business card is not just here to stay, but still an important and necessary tool for making your mark on potential employers and clients.
Lisa is in charge of driving revenue and growth for MOO.com while simultaneously building a lovable brand. She’s done a great job, as the company has won 3 Webby awards (the web’s Oscars), has been profiled in the Financial Times and was ranked in the top 10 UK start-up companies by the Guardian Newspaper since being founded in 2006.
With major online companies on her résumé that include Yahoo! and eBay, Lisa also shares her advice and candor on transitioning from a huge corporation to a start-up, moving abroad for your job, how her mentors have helped her succeed and more.
Interview with Lisa Rodwell, Chief Revenue Officer at MOO.com
Q: Lisa, can you tell us about your decision to move from a huge company like Yahoo! to a smaller one like MOO? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages for both?
Lisa: After 15 years in big companies, I wanted a challenge where I felt my efforts were actually delivering tangible results. Also, I was looking for a truly collaborative atmosphere where people of different skills came together to create something really exciting. Moving to a start-up (MOO.COM) with only 19 people, I knew that I could, and frankly, had to make every day count. That direct payoff in seeing all our ideas and efforts come to fruition was amazing. Five years later, we have a staff of almost 100 people, yet I still feel that there is a shared passion amongst the team, especially as we all come together to deliver a new product or service.
I guess most of the disadvantages that are associated with a small company relate to budgets and resources. With smaller budgets you become considerably more creative and rely on your instincts. You also realize what is really essential and focus on those areas and people. When we were small, the entire team was resourceful in ways you never imagined possible. It was fun, we got our hands ‘dirty’ and I believe we now understand our customers and our product a lot more than we would have if we hadn’t had the experience of those early days.
Another wonderful aspect about working for a small but growing company is watching some of the early team members grow and take on bigger roles with the company’s success.
Q: You have traveled and moved quite a bit for your career, having lived and worked abroad in Europe. Making a transition like this can be difficult for many women. Did you experience any hardships in your moves or adjusting culturally? If so, how did you overcome them?
Lisa: Interestingly, working and living in different countries is similar to working in different companies and learning to adapt to those cultures. No matter how similar a country/company feels to one you lived in/worked at before, you need to constantly remind yourself that it is different. Sometimes the language sounds the same, but the meaning is very different.
When I went to Prague, Czech Republic, I was completely on my own. I didn’t know a soul, the language or the culture. In those early days everything was a challenge, even doing the shopping. Without the language and visual cues, I struggled to navigate the grocery store. I am generally very flexible in new situations. This flexibility coupled with some very kind colleagues helped make my work and personal time in the Czech Republic something I would never change.
Of course moving to another country comes with lots of added stress and it can drain on your limited personal time. Two of my moves were on my own and I had to fend for myself. That was more difficult than my most recent move, which was done with my partner. He handled all the administrative details while I focused on my career. Also, having someone at home every night who was familiar made the entire transition and inevitable homesickness less arduous.
One other consideration is how eager the team is to have a foreigner join it. Will you be seen as someone who is parachuted in to help or hinder? I experienced both openness and apprehension from those who were threatened of my arrival. Knowing that you might not be seen as the shining white knight just prepares you for all situations.
Q: As more and more of our professional lives move online, where does this leave the business card? Can you offer some insight on how it’s still important for networking?
Lisa: Yes, it is true your online professional profile is critical. However, in the day of email overload, the face-to-face meeting and networking can actually be much more powerful. As these types of events and meetings are less frequent than they may have been in the past, I believe it’s important that you make a lasting impression and communicate your company or your own professional identity as best as you can.
Having a physical representation of your brand is critical when these moments can occur so quickly and be so fleeting. The business card is much more than just a way to exchange your contact details (an email is good for that), it’s your professional identity. Similar to a photo, a business card can be worth a 1000 words. It’s an insight in to your company or professional brand; it helps you tell your story. We at MOO.COM have heard some fantastic anecdotes of people who got the job, the sale or the interview because of their card. It kick started the conversation. Perhaps, the business card is the original Kickstarter.
Q: As a career coach, I’m always emphasizing the value and importance of mentorship in career development for women. Describe your most important mentor and how they helped you achieve success.
Lisa: I have never had a formal mentor. However, I was fortunate to be surrounded during different stages of my career by inspirational people. So today, there are a number of past colleagues and bosses who I turn to frequently for advice on business challenges and input into my career.
If I were to pick one person, I would have to single out my boss at eBay. From the moment I met her in that first interview, I wanted to work for her. She was so open, encouraging, and insightful. We’ve kept in touch both as friends, but also as an unofficial mentor. When I have tough career decisions, I know she is someone who will ask me the difficult questions and help me come to conclusion through analysis. She says it like it is and isn’t afraid to tell me things I may not want to hear or admit.
Do you know a woman with an interesting career who has overcome challenges to achieve success? Send in your ideas for upcoming interviews here.
Photo credit: Headshot and business card photos courtesy of Lisa Rodwell, others from Microsoft Free Clip Art