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Women on Top in Tech – Bárbara Ximénez Bruidegom, Founder at Shutta

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(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Here is my interview with Bárbara Ximénez Bruidegom, Founder of ShuttaShutta allows you to scroll through your videos and live photos, frame by frame, to capture the perfect moment and save it as a photo without losing any resolution. Any video stored on your phone is available automatically within Shutta. Videos taken with your phone are immediately accessible, or you can sync your GoPro or professional camera footage to your phone and simply save your favorite photo moments, in print quality resolution, back to your phone.

She has experience in business management roles, working in a wide variety of industries in Amsterdam, London, Dubai, Madrid and Ho Chi Minh City.

Shutta_Logo-WTT


What makes you do what you do?

Believe it or not, this question baffled me more than it should. Why would anybody in their right mind choose to work 80 hours a week, with no leave, meanwhile earning – at least for the first few years – a fraction of the pay for triple the responsibility and worry? Like many other entrepreneurs, I didn’t seek out this path, it presented itself to me. But, there is something immensely rewarding about having ultimate responsibility for every failure and every success. The buck stops here, there is no passing it on. It is a very sobering thing, and the responsibility can weigh on you at times. But, it is also extremely liberating. In return for assuming full responsibility for literally everything, you get the freedom to make your own decisions, to explore, to discover. That really appeals to my insatiably curious side, the part of me that is happiest when learning something new, and, for me, this freedom more than outweighs the hard work, long hours, and bad pay.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

I started out my career in finance/business administration and only entered the IT arena when I took a job at PeopleSoft in Amsterdam in the nineties. I had grown up in a scientific family and had always been surrounded by computers and tech, but it was my first introduction to big data – although, of course, nobody used that term back then. I was fascinated by the insight and the power that systems and data bring to business, and I still am. I think, however, that the path that has led me to where I am now has been more of an epic trek through a mountain range, with many highs and plenty of deep lows, rather than anything you might classify as a rise in the industry. It has been a great journey so far, though, and I can still see many peaks up in the distance that I would love to scale.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?

An opportunity presented itself, I recognized it, and I was up for the challenge. Right place, right time, right attitude.  I think it is as simple as that. Whether anybody else would see it as unusual or a stretch never crossed my mind. I am very aware that I stand on the shoulders of giants, and that, thanks to this, I was fortunate enough to grow up believing that glass ceilings are there to be shattered. After all, they are made of glass and not titanium. Look around you, look back, and you will find plenty of people that have achieved mind-blowing things, despite having to beat much harder odds than I ever had to deal with. If you want it, go out and get it.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?

My father spent his entire career at the European Space Agency, truly working at the forefront of science and technology, in an industry where even the smallest mistakes can have disastrous consequences. He was a very tough taskmaster and didn’t accept anything less than excellence; in his eyes doing your best simply wasn’t good enough. I credit him for teaching me that it is easy to be passionate about the things you are good at, but that it takes grit and determination to become good at the things you are not passionate about. Of course, if you can manage to become good at something you dislike, you have also converted it into something new to be passionate about.

How did you make a match if you and how did you end up being mentored by him?

Besides my father who pushed me to try harder and go further than I ever thought I’d be capable of, there have been many advisors and sounding boards along the way. If you want to succeed you need to buckle down, but there is no need to be a hero. It is important to seek advice and to learn from experts around you; it is not efficient to reinvent the wheel over and over again. You’d be surprised how many of the experts that you hold in the highest esteem have the courtesy to offer their advice to someone that they have never met when they recognize passion combined with the humility to ask for help.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?

In my experience, it all starts with being able to spot the talent in the first place. At Shutta, we have a hiring method that is quite different to the standard question and answer sessions, and it rarely fails. During the recruitment phase, we focus on getting the most balanced picture of a candidate possible; assessing everything from knowledge and ability to resilience, ambition, and people skills. Essentially, we are looking for that little spark of genius. When it is spotted, it is also well documented, and by the time the candidate joins the team, we have a clear idea on how we can best empower each candidate and in which areas they need support; how we can help them discover their own genius. From there on in, and outside of formal assessment periods to establish personal development plans for the year ahead, I think it is vital to be on the floor and work directly with the people that, together, make up your company. It is the only way to stay in touch with everybody’s needs and ambitions, which is vitally important when you try to align company goals with personal goals.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

Looking in from the outside, I wouldn’t blame anyone for looking at us and seeing a group of misfits. One of the greatest benefits of our selection process is that we are forced to look beyond the mere facts of a person’s life and see the individual beneath. Shutta is developing all manner of innovative solutions, from computer vision and machine learning to marketing methods that are up to 60 times more successful than the current digital marketing benchmarks. We need people who can look at an existing problem and come up with a new way of solving it. This means that, if we want to find people that look at the world from a slightly different angle, we must treasure quirks and peculiarities. A (fortunate) fringe benefit is that this quest has quite naturally led us to have a very diverse, but very tight and collaborative team.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?

Forget about being a great leader. Aspire to be a great person, the greatest person you can be; intellectually, emotionally, socially, at all times and in every aspect of everyday life. I think that we have all experienced the exhilarating feeling of being “in the zone” when everything seems to flow naturally and with absolute ease. I believe that we get to that zone the minute we let go of our tendency to focus on the end goal and instead focus simply on the task or situation at hand. When people find their own zone(s), they also find their own talent, or what I call their own genius. And when we start spending as much of our lives as possible in that flow, we will naturally progress to become the best version of ourselves that we can possibly be.

Advice for others?

Be curious, be hungry, be passionate, and be humble. It doesn’t matter how many years of experience you have under your belt, you’re never done developing into a better person than you were the day before. Be flexible and be well prepared. Plan everything to the minutest detail, then accept that nothing will go according to plan. The purpose of your preparation is not to be in absolute control of a situation, it is to allow you to recognise deviations and to make adjustments accordingly. Most of all, enjoy the ride. Have fun, laugh a lot, and don’t take it all too seriously. Life is the ultimate adventure, and you only get one shot at it, so aim for a life of happiness, not success.


To learn more about Shutta, please see http://shutta.co/.

I am a huge fan and cheerleader of Women Leaders — If you know of an AMAZING Woman Founder, CEO, Leader in Tech or you are one yourself — Write me here.
AMPLIFY Conscious Business Leadership with me.

Callum Connects

Trung Nguyen, Founder & Managing Director of Advertising Vietnam

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Having initial success with his first start up in the ad industry, Trung Nguyen went on to start other ventures in the ad world in Vietnam. He now has the largest agency community in Vietnam.

What’s your story?
Three years ago I got my first job in the advertising industry. I worked for a local agency in town, and I fell in love with the creative industry. In June 2015, I founded Agency Life Community in Vietnam. It quickly became the most engaging community in the ad industry. The main content focuses on entertainment. After six months we had over 30,000 organic followers, now we have 120,000 followers.

Because the industry had been good to me, I decided I had to something for the industry to help the industry be better. So, I opened http://AdvertisingVietnam.com – a creative industry ad site which keeps advertising informative, creative and inspiring.

After more than a year in the ads industry in Vietnam, I figured the industry needed a better solution for the recruitment of good staff. Given I own the largest advertising community platform, why don’t I utilise Agency Life to help connect talent with ad agencies. So, I founded job site, AdJob.Asia in January 2017.

What excites you most about your industry?
The ad industry is a creative one with very passionate people who are always challenging themselves. The exciting part for creatives, in the morning they might be working on a baby brand and in the afternoon they are answering a beer brief. There is so much diversity. Every day is the new journey.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am Vietnamese.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Thailand. The Thais are the kings of the creative industry in SEA. Thai ads are very smart and creative.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Do what you love.

Who inspires you?
My friend, mentor and partner Mr Nghi Nguyen, founder of BrandsVietnam.com. We started our businesses at a similar time. He doesn’t see us as a competitor but rather, he believes that we share the same passion and we are working to provide better knowledge for the ad community.
Mr Nghi also guided me a lot when I first opened the business. I am inspired by his vision to make our marketing industry better.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Our business is a startup company and as a founder I do everything from operations, business development, planning and strategy. However, this is not the good way grow our business. You have to share the workload – find a co-founder or hire a great employee to help share the workload. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Quit my full time job sooner.
During the first year of running my business, I was still working as an ad manager for an agency. However I lacked focus at work due to the overload of work and it affected the company I used to work for. I strongly recommend people who have an idea to start their own business, quit their job early on and focus 100% on it from the get go!

How do you unwind?
Play with my cat.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love to travel throughout all of Asia. I enjoy new places and meeting new people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Carpenter: A story about the greatest success strategies of all.

Shameless plug for your business:
AdvertisingVietnam.com is a site where you can quickly update yourself on the advertising news in Vietnam. We have 15,000 unique monthly readers who are professional people in the advertising and communications industries.

The Agency Life, https://www.facebook.com/agencylife is largest agency community in Vietnam. This is the right place for ad agencies to share their creative work.

AdJob.Asia now has more than 160 agencies in Vietnam who use our services. We are a leading recruitment service for the advertising industry in Vietnam.

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/trungnx26
Email: [email protected]
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trungnx26/

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Minette Navarrete, Co-Founder, Vice-Chairman, and President of Kickstart Ventures

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(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Here is our interview with Minette Navarrete, Co-Founder, Vice-Chairman, and President of Kickstart Ventures. Kickstart is an investment firm that funds early-stage digital startups, providing capital, incubation and mentoring, and market access.  Minette has held CEO/COO positions in various industries, ranging from Philippine startups to iconic multinationals.

What makes you do what you do?
I’m keenly interested in innovation and ecosystem development, and committed to contributing to nation-building. I love that my job combines all of that, and allows me to leverage all my past experiences into a new role that creates value for founders and fund-providers alike.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?
Counter-intuitively! I don’t have a background in tech; nor do I have a long history of venture investing. My skill sets are in strategy, general management, and marketing; and my experience has largely been in innovation and business turnaround. But I have a broad range of work experience (FMCG, apparel, property, and online game publishing in a startup), and that has helped inform my views. More than anything, though, Kickstart has made this progress because of the trust of our principals, and the initiative of a wonderful team. Truly, people make the difference.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
All throughout my career, I’ve only taken on difficult roles. There’s little growth in a role that is easy; and the challenges are what makes a role worth doing.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
I’ve had the benefit of a number of good mentors through my career.

How did you make a match if you and how did you end up being mentored by him/her?
First off: I have had both male and female mentors. Generally, I’ve met mentors in work situations: i.e. they started out being an immediate superior, or being on my Board of Directors. The close work association evolved as both sides found the experience productive, intellectually satisfying, and fun.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
Mostly through the same process: nothing compares to actually working together. That said, with more and more experience, I think people develop a sharper instinct about talent, and the potential for development. It’s also important to build the relationship over time, and to invest in actively supporting talent by both seeing things through their eyes as well as helping them find other lenses with which to view the situation they find themselves in.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
Yes, we care about diversity, although the primary filter for Kickstart is always ability and performance. Many studies have shown that diverse teams are closely correlated to better results; and given the kind of work we do, it’s important that we all sharpen our ability to deal with varied types of people and situations.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
It’s important to be trustworthy, especially given that venture investing deals with the highest-risk asset class. Trust is earned through competence, diligence, honesty, clarity, and courage.

Advice for others?
I say this a lot: Build strong foundations. Be clear about your values, principles, and priorities. Volunteer for the toughest jobs. Do the unsexy stuff. And work with conviction, commitment, courage, and honour. None of this is particularly glamorous, and they don’t deliver instantaneous results, but the value-creation is real, authentic, and sustainable over a longer period.


If you’d like to get in touch with Minette Navarrete, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/minettenavarrete/

To learn more about Kickstart Ventures , please click here.

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