Lead with Confidence: Be Brave Sooner

Shannon Fitzgerald-Lussier
March 29, 2023

People take all different types of career paths; how did you get to where you are today? 

I didn’t start in marketing. I did a double major in accounting and finance and spent most of my career in financial analysis.  

Growing up in Athens, I didn’t even know marketing operations was a career path, but I knew I wanted more for my career. You have to take risks and listen to that inner voice that tells you to take the leap. So, in 2011, when Greece was in deep financial crisis, I took that leap and decided to pursue my master’s degree in economics in New York. 

At first, I worked as an investment banking analyst and a real estate analyst. Then I had an opportunity to work directly with the CEO and CFO, leading strategic initiatives and operations. For the first time in my career, I was exposed to how leaders think and how operations can impact every part of the business.  

A lot of people talk about envisioning and manifesting your future. I knew that I wanted to work in operations for a global tech company. And I wanted to work for a company with a mission I believed in.  

Bumble was at the top of my list.  

What excites you most about your role today? 

When you start a new role, there’s a honeymoon period. But then reality sets in, and sometimes the company culture might not match your expectations. I genuinely wake up every day excited to talk to my colleagues from all over the world in India, Australia, Europe, and Dubai.  

Bumble’s working environment is reflective of its primary value: kindness. I feel respected and valued. I can speak my mind without judgment. My accent is celebrated instead of discriminated against, which wasn’t always the case at other jobs. Different viewpoints are truly valued. 

With the exposure I get to all the different departments and cross functional partners, I get a unique, high-level view of what’s happening. It makes you look at challenges differently and gives you a broader lens to discover new solutions. 

How do you move from being an individual contributor to a leadership path?  

Listen more and talk less. When I was on Wall Street, I joined a meeting where every other member was far more senior than I was. My mentor leaned over and told me to just read the room. Watch the dynamics and understand who’s making decisions and why. Are their decisions driven by financial reasons, operational reasons, or other reasons?  

By observing and listening, I started identifying problems or opportunities that hadn’t been escalated to leadership. I created a plan with a solution, action items, calculated risks, opportunities, and the financial or operational impact. Leaders appreciate people who take initiative to not only point out a business-level problem but come with a clear plan to solve the problem. 

It’s the year 2023, if you’re looking back at your 23-year-old self, what advice would you give?  

I left Greece, and my life was enriched from exposure to so many different cultures. I would have encouraged myself to be brave sooner

The second piece of advice is not to be afraid to ask for advice. I was so unaware of the access I had to many successful people when I was younger. I remember admiring this woman who was the chief legal officer back in Greece, but I was too shy to approach her for guidance.

The third piece of advice is that it’s not all about schooling. I grew up in a household where my parents wanted the best education for me. But there is also a lot of value in starting work early, gaining real life experience, and not focusing so much on degrees. Degrees are useful but nothing compares to the day-to-day experience of working with other people who are experts in their field. 

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