A day in the life of a female COO

As we gear up to the 106th annual International Women’s Day this Saturday, March 8th, we talk to Emma Stone, Postcode Anywhere’s Chief Operating Officer about what it’s really like to be a woman in business

What does a typical day look like for you?

In the role I do there is no such thing as a typical day! My role at Postcode Anywhere involves a lot of multi-tasking so what I do from one day to the next can be very different.

My time in the office on a day to day basis is fairly fixed to balance work with children, I arrive for 8.15am and leave at 5.45pm, however my day to day activity is different every day!

My role means I am involved in all things operational, balancing today’s business performance with our future plans. One day I could be dealing with training plans for the organisation, the next creating future operating models and the next reviewing performance; costs, revenue against forecast. Internally I spend a lot of time with our management team working with them on our global expansion and ensuring that we have the right teams in place to cover the influx in traffic and support calls we receive.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

It has to be scaling our operations to deliver some really challenging year-on-year growth targets set for the next five years while still maintaining the spirit that launched our business; preserving our culture and not losing the magic that makes us special. We’ve got to a size now where it’s imperative to have standardised and repeatable processes in place operationally to enable us to manage ‘business as usual’ effectively and efficiently. At the same time we need to be ready to respond quickly to new and exciting opportunities.

Most exciting part of your job?

As above! Being part of the Executive team that is driving our business forward. I love finding new of doing things; looking for ways around obstacles, life would be dull without challenges!

How did you get to where you are today?

Hard work with a little bit of luck along the way. Over the last 18 years I’ve worked my way up the career ladder from a call centre agent to Chief Operating Officer. I’ve been able to do this through building a wide range of business skills and experience in large corporate organisations, setting up and running my own business and now working in an exciting and agile SMB. Working across the board has helped me to see all different aspects of the business and understand how they can be improved.

What’s it like to be a woman in business?

As a woman leader I am fascinated by the gender divide that still exists in business today. I’ve experienced first-hand the difficulties woman can face on return to work post maternity, being placed into a project role rather than picking back up the management position I left. The burden of child-care still generally sits with the woman, even if working full time herself.  On top of these issues I agree with Sheryl Sandberg comments that cultures everywhere still dictate that men are the superior sex, she says  men are encouraged to be strong, assertive, to speak up, but when women do the same they are labelled “bossy.”

I’m really pleased to be working within a forward looking business that values the contribution of good people regardless of gender, I was promoted twice within six months based on my performance, drive and passion and not judged on leaving early to attend my daughter’s school play!

What is the best business advice you have received and from whom?

Another Sheryl Sandberg comment that resonates with me: we are all emotional beings and it’s ok to share this at work.  Her advice is ask people how they feel not just what they think; for me emotional intelligence is as important as IQ in business today. I want the people working with me to know it’s ok to show passion –  to cry if things go wrong (and then find an alternative approach!), to make connections and to focus on how something feels not just how it works.

You can follow Emma on Twitter here.