B&T’s Women in Media profile is back again for another day of female fabulousness, and today’s Q&A comes from the lovely Magda Walczak, chief customer officer of The Search Party.
How would you describe your role?
I look after the end to end customer journey. I’m currently focusing my time on product and marketing, so attracting users to our website, converting them to customers and ensuring they have a positive experience as they use our platform.
Describe your average day?
“Average” is a big stretch here… My days are different depending on my location at the time (Chicago, Sydney, London or Toronto) and whether we’re in the middle of a major feature design kick-off. In general, I always spend time talking to my team in Sydney and to my CEO, wherever he happens to be. Since we’re still relatively small (42 right now), I wear many hats and often get my hands dirty reviewing ads, analysing analytics data or writing copy.
What’s the best thing about your job?
My team and the broader Search Party family. When you have the right people by your side, even the most difficult task becomes doable.
What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
Context switching – whether it’s because of the time zone differences, product vs marketing, or short vs long term objectives.
What drives you?
The vision of the awesome thing that we’re building. I’ve had some amazing jobs and others that left my spirit broken. I joined Search Party because I can personally appreciate the value of a good fit between a person and their job. After all, we spend more time at work during our week than doing pretty much anything else. We might as well be happy, right? Well, Search Party will enable that to happen globally. When employers can find the right people, for the right job, every time, how amazing is that? Everyone wins!
What’s the hardest brief you’ve ever received or hardest job to execute?
The hardest things for me to execute have been those where I didn’t believe in why I was doing something or in why I had to do it a certain way. Sometimes I failed as a result and other times I just sucked it up and did it anyway. Point is, the “hard” part doesn’t come in the form of an “impossible task,” but rather in personal difficulty because my heart’s not in it for one reason or another.
What was your career path to this job?
Copywriting → PPC → Online marketing → ecommerce → VP marketing → Marketing consulting → CMO / CCO
The common thread has been writing, which is a bit funny to me because I only ended up copywriting for websites in the first place when I couldn’t get a job as journalist. I always wanted to write, but it just took a few extra steps to figure out the context in which I could make it happen.
What would be your ultimate role?
I’m in it. I love the fact that I look after the entire customer journey. It’s a work in progress, but it’s so thrilling to see our conversions and customer feedback improve after each marketing activity or product release. After Search Party, though, I have plans to start a company that will help rescue animals and advocate for animal welfare. It’s not necessarily the “Founder” role that is my ultimate goal, but rather what I know I can accomplish for abused and neglected animals that excites me.
What annoys you about this industry?
Different speeds at which both vendors and clients move. We’re not speaking the same language. I feel like the more tools we have to stay connected (as people, as industry pros, as work colleagues), the less connected we actually are.
What’s your proudest professional moment?
It’s a collection of moments – nothing makes me prouder than when I hear about success of someone from a team I used to lead, especially when they reach out to tell me about it. Knowing I had some small part in their development gives me the proudest feeling I can ask for professionally.
What’s your quirkiest attribute?
Unsolicited singing in public… unfortunately for all who witness it.
I get embarrassed like most people, but I get over it very quickly so I frequently do or say things that others would find ridiculous or stupid. For example, when something excellent happens, I’ll blast “Everything is awesome” in the office and dance like a crazy person. There’s even an animated gif of one such unfortunate accident… Or I’ll try to high-five someone, but miss and smack them in the shoulder. Or face. Awkward.
What are advertising/marketing’s biggest threats and opportunities?
Data, on both fronts. It’s awesome that we can measure so much, but it’s a threat to creativity and gut. While I’m very much a data driven marketer, I consistently evaluate my own decisions with a filter of “How do I feel about this” vs just “What does the data say?” Let’s remember that in marketing, we’re still dealing with humans. We should 100% measure, but we should also trust our skills and instincts.
What’s different in a creative role today compared to five years ago?
Collaboration across departments. The role of marketing and of the CMO in particular has evolved tremendously over the past decade. Marketing touches product, customer service and sales more intimately than ever and I think companies that allow this to happen naturally are better as a result.
What do you think is the most exciting thing about women working in the media right now?
There’s an overall positive trend in business where we’re no longer “women in X” but just “people in X.” Obviously, I’m very excited about that, but at the same time, I’m also sad that in 2016 this makes me excited… it’s taking waaaay too long! Equality in the workplace – in all industries – is ridiculously overdue.
One thing no one knows about you?
I sound Irish when I’m drunk. And I can’t control it. Ironically, rest of the time I have a strange hybrid accent that I can’t affect no matter how hard I try. I guess that’s what you get after living in Poland, US and Australia for years at a time!
Your house is on fire (people and animals are fine). What is the one possession you would you save?
A red amber necklace that belonged to my grandmother. She only had a few pieces of jewellery and the other two were stolen a couple years ago when my parents house was burglarized. She wore that necklace to church every Sunday and every time I see it, I’m reminded of her, my grandfather and the wonderful upbringing I had in Poland.
If you were CEO what would you do differently?
Nothing. That’s the cool thing about working my current CEO, Ben. We’re a great team. We collaborate on projects and consult on important decisions. I feel completely involved, empowered and informed and I’d like to think he feels the same. It’s pretty awesome.
Hardest lesson you’ve had to learn (in or out of workforce)?
You can’t change people and not everyone’s going to like you. And that’s OK! I’m a “fixer” by nature and I’m super stubborn, so it took a while to learn this lesson. The second I realized that I can’t fix everything, I became a much happier person.
Tea or coffee?
French press or filter coffee and pastry for breakfast, T2 Madagascan Vanilla in the afternoon… with another pastry.
Cats or dogs?
Both! I love all animals. I have three rescues of my own – 1 dog and 2 cats. I’m a huge proponent of the “Adopt, don’t shop” movement. I actually wrote a children’s book, Saylor’s Tale, hoping to teach kids about responsibilities of having pets. All proceeds go to animal rescue groups so please get your copy on Amazon.
Drinking wine while watching Masterchef… in the bath. I developed the habit a few years ago when my back was injured. Painkillers made me too loopy so the hot baths were the only things that helped. After I had surgery for my back, the habit stuck and now it’s my little break from the universe and all its problems.
What is your favourite word?
What is your least favourite word?
What turns you on, emotionally, creatively, spirituality?
Vulnerability, honesty, healthy optimism.
What turns you off?
Arrogance, pandering to people, zealotry
What sound or noise do you love?
Nature – wind blowing, birds singing, small creatures rustling in the grass.
What sound or noise do you hate?
Sound of excuses. And nails on chalkboard. And knives sharpening.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
The next profession I will attempt will be entrepreneur. My dream is to create a globally scalable way to help abandoned and unwanted animals. I’d like to create a business model for sanctuaries that are self-sustaining and educate as well as rescue.
What profession would you not like to do?
Anything where I would have to potentially compromise my integrity or where I would have to pander to people I didn’t respect.