Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Andrea Janjua, CEO and Co-Founder @ METACOM
How could you describe your career path in a few words?
When I think of my career, I see a journey to self-discovery and self-confidence. I believe in learning continually and I’ve never been able to stick around when the learning curve has stopped. I believe there is always something to learn, to reinvent yourself and grow. This is especially true in a time of digital transformation, where no matter the industry or the department you need to constantly adapt. I started in a sales position and quickly moved to manage the sales team, which helped me learn how to not only sell my service but also myself. I understood which of my characteristics are most appreciated in any sales transaction and client relationship. Furthermore, I learned to rise as a leader, among same age peers, at a very young age. Further, I moved to P&G to learn business management and the ins & outs of marketing. P&G taught me to run a business, manage a P&L and an international and sometimes remotely located team. Everything I learned I now apply in my own business, including the values and principles that were ingrained in my DNA. When I look back at my career progression, I can see specific milestones that define me as a professional. Those milestones were never the successes, but the hard challenges. The challenges were the ones that made my path less linear but taught me the most and helped me move forward to where I am today.
What was your most challenging experience and how did it change your mindset?
I believe all great professionals have many challenges in their way that perfect their character and their skills. In my case, I can pinpoint to a few but one of them defines me the most. I remember moving from my first job, in a small company, where I was very successful and celebrated, reporting to the CEO, to a new larger company where I had to start from scratch, as an entry level marketeer, with heavy internal politics and different rules of engagement. This change marked my character significantly, as I learned to recognize my ego and set it aside, so that my thirst for learning and growth can come through. In coming years, I gave up promotions, I started from scratch with courage and eagerness several times, I moved countries, I took the projects no one wanted to work on, always being thrown into the deep waters to learn how to swim, a harder path but significantly more rewarding. Not
surprisingly, these decisions propelled me to a very successful career, becoming the youngest C-suite member of one of the companies I had worked for.
When you get surprised by unusual or uncertain context, what do you think?
As mentioned above, I am usually used to being thrown into ambiguous situations and projects. I love a good puzzle and I get a thrill from creating structure. I somehow feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations. My first thought is: “Ok, let’s get to work!”. I tend to ask everyone to stop focusing on the problem and start thinking of solutions. I remember early in my career; we had a big issue with a shipment that was delayed in a port and wouldn’t arrive for a customer event. I was still a junior marketeer and was petrified, thinking this would end my career. A senior sales leader, put all the stakeholders in a room, and simply said: “Now it’s the time to earn our salaries, we are paid to come up with solutions”. This experience then defined how I approached issues later-on, navigating ambiguity with an open mind and a problem-solving mindset.
Based on your experience, what’s the key success factor for a female leader / manager?
I believe a female leader should be brave enough to lead in her own way, staying true to herself, her skills, her personality and never doubt herself. In general, women always lack confidence, even if they are the most qualified in the room. That would be the first thing I would tell female leaders to work on. Confidence, confidence, confidence. Women need to believe they belong to the table and their voice is very important. My key factors to success would be, (1) mindset: confidence, confidence, confidence, fake it till you make it (or till you believe it), believe you belong and make it happen; (2) never stop learning, no matter the age or the industry, never stop learning, it’s what will keep you young and relevant, and happy; (3) coach others, take it upon yourself to share your knowledge to those interested because they can help you share the industry and the community your work in; as they say “be the change you want to see in the world” and don’t expect others to make changes for the better, take an active role to make it happen; (4) always provide solutions; (5) be creative in all aspects of your life; (6) put your ego aside; (7) don’t be afraid to use your feminine traits in
your professional life, such as: sensibility, flexibility, nurturing nature, inclusivity, fairness, strength of character; (8) do things that give you energy, when you wake up in the morning and throughout your day, what you do should give you energy and help you push through the hard times; (9) surround yourself with few people, but the best quality ones and don’t believe everything you hear. People will always be afraid of someone they don’t understand, doesn’t do what they do, someone that aims higher.