Our guest is COO Alliance Member Victoria Petriw, VP of Operations at Widerfunnel.
WiderFunnel is a leading experimentation company that helps enterprise brands make confident business decisions by co-creating insight-driven experimentation programs. In keeping with its brand, the organization needs to have leaders who enjoy thinking out of the box to make things better for the organization. One such leader is Victoria Petriw, the company’s VP of Operations. Since she joined the company, WiderFunnel has become one of the top 50 fastest growing companies in British Columbia. Joining Cameron Herold for a chat, Victoria shares the differences between company cultures that operate in open and closed offices, how remote businesses show the efficiency of their work, and how she looks for efficiencies within the company. We also get a peek at what wonders the company exactly does for its clients.
Victoria Petriw is the VP of Operations at Widerfunnel, a leading experimentation company that helps enterprise brands make confident business decisions by co-creating insight-driven experimentation programs. Victoria leads the business operation teams of Finance, HR, IT, Legal, and Administration and design seamless experience for the company to happily and profitably grow and operate. Since Victoria joined the company, Widerfunnel has become one of the top 50 fastest growing companies in BC, achieving 355% revenue growth and 125% team growth.
Outside of work, Victoria is always crafting new experiences to enjoy, usually in the form of trying out new hobbies. She’s the Cofounder of Port Moody & Co., a lifestyle brand that promotes the incredible people, places, and businesses of Port Moody. She’s also the President of the Board of Directors for Build a Biz Kids, a nonprofit that offers after-school and summer camp programs for children and youth to develop their entrepreneurial skills. Victoria, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me.
That Build a Biz program, is Tresa Reese involved in that?
I’m not sure.
It might be a different one. There was a woman that I used to work with at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? that got involved in some entrepreneurial kids’ youth program. It seems similar but maybe not.
The President of Build a Biz Kids is Leah Coss and she was at 1-800.
I know Leah as well. They must have both done something somewhere in the space. Leah was in the franchise sales group when I was there as well. Tell me a little bit about Widerfunnel? What do you guys do? We’re not going to get into the deep, technical aspects of the business. In layman’s terms, if you were describing to friends or if you were at a marketing conference or something, how might you explain what the company does?
We help companies make more confident business decisions by implementing, developing or scaling their experimentation programs. Experimentation is a systematic way of testing ideas. When you think back to elementary school, when you’re learning the scientific method of creating a hypothesis and then testing it, we do that on websites. We help companies ask the right questions and they are able to uncover powerful insights that can then help them drive growth in their organization.
A lot of companies are asking some hard questions like, “What’s important to my customer? What are the features or the products or the services that they care about? What’s the right price to price them at? What business model might be profitable for them?” We learn what questions they’re trying to answer and then we use behavioral science to understand the why of their customer decisions. When we learn how the customer behaves and thinks and makes decisions, we gather those insights and test them and validate them through their site.
It originated from that. The industry evolved. We’ve been around since 2007. In the beginning, it was all about split testing. It’s simple. You make a change like this, what’s the effect? The industry evolved into understanding conversion rate optimization. How do you convert all the people that are coming to your site? Experimentation is thinking about what are all the different insights that you can be gathering to answer some big business problems, not just learning whether to make a button yellow or green. This is like a powerful way for leaders to be able to answer hard questions.
I was at a conference called The Gathering and there was a woman there presenting from the east coast in Canada who has a company. The name is escaping me, but they do a photo analysis of two photos or multiple photos to show you which photos are going to get the best response. They can use all this AI to judge and all the humans in the audience were guessing completely wrong. Every time they put up these 2 or 3 photos to pick from, everyone was picking the wrong ones. They showed us why the computer was going in the other direction.
It was quite fascinating that they were using this to even get ahead of the split testing. Rather than waiting for your customers to decide, they were using AI to decide before your customers needed to decide, which I thought was powerful. Normally, you’d put up two photos and check to see which of your customers liked. What this was doing was the computer already knows what your customer is going to be choosing. It can do that for you and then you can do the next level of like, “That was cool stuff.” Where do you get your clients from?
In terms of how they come to us?
We’re well-known in the industry. If you look into experimentation, there are only a few companies within North America that are doing what we do. Our founder is well-known. We have a ton of thought leaders within our company. Chris Goward, our CEO, wrote a book years ago called You Should Test That. He’s on the conference circuit so most of our clients come in already having heard of us.
It makes it easy to close them. Why did you get involved in the company?
I was fresh out of university, looking for a way to get my foot in the door and they were hiring. It was as simple as that. It wasn’t this incredible story. It’s a comical story.
They said, “Yes.” I’m like, “What the hell? Let’s see what happens.” The company has grown a fair bit through the timeline that you’ve been there. What was the company like when you joined? What’s it like now?
When I joined, it had been around for six years and it has only five team members. It had figured out its business model. We were much like a team of functional roles. One person in charge of sales, one CEO who is spread way too thin, somebody delivering and so forth. My growth to running the operations has been quite interesting because I did start in an administrative role. I’ve been able to touch and see every single piece of the organization.
What do you think brought you up through that trajectory from starting an administrative role and into the CEO role? What was it that had that happen for you?
If I was to narrow it down to one thing, it would be my curiosity and asking the good questions to be able to solve a lot of problems or challenges or find what opportunities we might have. Also, I’m a systematic person. I’m immediately trying to solve things and figure out how to create a system for it to run smoothly.
How many people are on the team now?
We have 32 full-time and then a bunch of contractors.
Are you all based in British Columbia? Do you have remote people as well?
We have a few remote people in the US.
Do you think that’s going to change now that we’ve been pushed to everybody working from home and being able to work remotely? Has that changed the mindset or the thought process behind where you’re going to hire people going forward, do you think?
I don’t think it will change much. We were already thinking of ways that we could expand to the US to be closer to a few of our clients because a majority of our clients are based in the US. If anything, it has strengthened the need for us to be together. We are very much a team that enjoys each other’s company. Not being able to be in the same office is tough for us. A few years ago, we moved into a new space and we had to all work from home for a week. No one lasted. Everyone was meeting up for lunch and trying to hang up as much as they could.
We had that happen years ago. When we were building out 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, we’d moved from the hyped head office at Granville Island where we had 20,000 square feet and two floors and about 150 people. We moved downtown to the Guinness Tower. We were taking three floors of the Guinness Tower over. The space wasn’t ready for about 60% of the company. A whole bunch of us had to work out of this law firm that we leased for three months. We all shared offices. We had people in single offices or two people per office. For the first few days, it was like, “This is awesome. We’re getting all the work done. We love this.”
After about four days, it was like, “Is Jeff even in the office? Where’s Kelly? I haven’t seen her all week. Does Dave even work here anymore?” It was weird. After about two weeks, we were like, “There’s no way we would ever work in anything but an open office again.” We hated the whole idea of private offices. It was interesting to watch that dynamic happen. Are you seeing that similar shift where people are being forced to work from home and they want to get back to the office?
Totally. There’s the comfort of the office of being set up to your needs in terms of working effectively. There’s the social aspect of it. We come to work to fulfill our personal identities. It does feel like we’re a little bit stripped away from that when we don’t have our social clans surrounding us. There’s that piece to it. The one area that is helpful is that it does make you become more outcome-oriented. You’re not seeing any more by the watercooler or looking into meetings. It’s like, “What have you delivered? What value have you provided?” That changes.
That results in the work environment becomes obvious if you’re not delivering then. What do you think people are doing to show that they’re delivering value or to show that they’re getting work done?
We’re using our meetings more effectively. Suddenly, your daily huddles and weekly team meetings become necessary. The reason they’re there is to be able to move things forward. Being remote, that’s your opportunity to do that. It’s not like, “I’ve caught you walking to your desk. Therefore, I’m going to give you a quick update.” It’s like, “No, I’ve got this specific slot to give you that update.”
A friend of mine down in Mexico sent me a note and she said, “I read your book, Meetings Suck. I had all my employees read it as well. I didn’t realize, until we went remote, how poorly we were running our meetings over the years.” They realized the need for running meetings and then the next step is running highly effective meetings so you don’t waste all day on them. Are people getting zoomed out? Do you think people are sick?
Yes. We’re done with screen time. I find myself reading more books to be able to rest my eyes. That’s the key thing, the amount of screen time that you are needing to do. Before, I’d be working and then I would be in meetings. Meetings are all face-to-face.
It gives your eyes a break.
I can be focusing on my screen for seven hours straight.
I’ve noticed that I’ve been more tired. My eyes have been more tired. That is exactly what it is. I hadn’t realized that’s probably what it had been. Talk to me a little bit about what you’re focusing on as a leader and what’s changed through this whole COVID-19. I also want you to walk me through what your day-to-day is like as a leader running the organization.
I wouldn’t say the scope of my role has changed much due to COVID-19. It’s been a seamless transition. We’re set up to be remote already. It’s no business as usual from that perspective. There are more questions about how our organization is going to weather this due to the economic impacts this is having. It is getting us to look at our forecasting a little differently than we have had in the past, more detailed in terms of the effects that this can have on our customers, the types of value that we can provide our customers throughout this time. We’re lucky to be in a business where we are able to show our value quite directly. Given the fact that a lot of people are being forced online, we’re an obvious choice in that case. What has happened in January 2020, I started to oversee marketing. A lot of my time has been spent in trying to understand how our marketing has been set up and find the efficiencies to automate it a little bit.
How do you do that? I’m curious how a leader goes into or takes over a new area. Have you ever worked in marketing before? Probably not. It’s all new to you. How do you go in and understand an area and start to look for efficiencies or look for leverage points? How do you go in and figure that stuff out?
I’m not sure what the right way is to do it, that’s the way I have approached things. The way I’ve approached it is first understanding how things are being done. Forget about what we want to do, what we’ve done in the past. It’s like, “What does it look like right now?” A lot of my time has been spent tracking our interactions with prospects and then following the lead and understanding. I almost see it as like baton passes. If you’re running a race and you’re passing a baton, I clearly want to outline every single time that baton gets passed and see if it’s a person or if it’s a system that’s creating that pass and then what the output is of each piece. That’s been where a lot of my time has been spent is trying to understand that picture. Through there, you can then apply your strategy. What is your growth strategy? What are you trying to achieve? It’s what we’re doing helping you achieve that. You start drafting out the efficiencies and how you can improve certain things and prioritize how you go about it.
How big is your marketing team? What does it look like?
It’s only myself and one other individual. We have a bunch of freelance writers. Our CEO, given his thought leadership that he provides, is heavily involved as well.
You mentioned that he had written a book a few years ago, has that worked out well for the company?
Extremely well. A lot of people use this as their back-pocket guide to experimentation.
How do you, as a company, leverage that book? How do you get it out there? How do you work with your clients? How do you use it as a marketing tool?
When there was a conference circuit, he was on it and was able to promote the book that way and the work that we’ve done with our clients. We often are sending the book out to our clients or people. We’ll find that companies are buying 20, 30 of them for their entire team because they’re trying to get them to be creating a culture of experimentation.
It’s an interesting tool. I wrote my first book several years ago. I’ve written five now in total. It’s amazing how that becomes a bit of a perpetual motion machine. The more books that are out there, the more people are talking about the books. They’re more sharing the books. Every month, they keep selling more and more. The brand keeps getting built. It’s almost irresponsible of a CEO not to have a book these days.
It is, but it is also a big endeavor. I’m sure you know. It’s trying to figure out how often do you need to put out this massive publication and then how you can put out other things of value into the world? Similar to what you’re doing with the podcast, are there other avenues to provide this thought leadership? That’s where we’re trying to focus.
Do you get much PR or much press coverage about your company or about what your company is doing and how you’re helping customers?
In my perspective, not enough. That’s something that I’d like to focus on because the work that we do and the type of value that we bring organizations are insane. A small tweak for an enterprise company can mean millions of dollars. It’s simple.
Would those big clients talk about? Would they be open to you sharing their work as a case study?
Yes. We do a number of case studies. One of the things that I’m looking into is we could be doing all this great work. We can be writing case studies, but if it’s not touching people who haven’t heard about us, then it’s not effective.
Take a look at one of my books, it’s is called Free PR. It’s how we landed all the free publicity at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. I built the in-house PR team there as one of my divisions as COO. We landed 5,200 stories about our company in six years. I give you all of the step by step instructions on how to do that. The other thing I was thinking about for you guys is there’s a company based here in Vancouver, they may be the largest PR company in Vancouver run by Katie Dunsworth. She used to run my PR team at 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, but they do a lot in the technical space as well. They work with a lot of tech companies and they might be an interesting plugin for you to outsource your PR to them. It could be huge for you guys to get the story told and understand what your clients are benefiting from it.
I’ll probably follow up with you afterward to get the details.
It could be interesting. Talk to me about how you and the CEO stay on the same page. How do you stay on the same page with his vision and the business development team rainmaking what he’s doing? How do you get him to stay on the same page with you and the plans and operational side of the business?
The secret to any good relationship is being on the same page. What helped us a few years ago is we implemented the same page meetings, the concept from the visionary integrator.
We found that has been impactful. We have weekly check-ins. As a leadership team, I have weekly check-ins with him, but it’s not enough to get into some of the juicier challenges that we face. Every month, we go off-site, now remote, for about 4 to 5 hours and align on what’s going on personally and professionally. What are the top things that are roadblocking you or keeping you up at night? We prioritize and dig into it. It’s interesting because when we started doing it, we realized every single meeting had led to a massive action within the organization. Immediately, it showed value.
It’s funny, people that are always there, “I don’t have time for meetings.” I’m like, “You don’t have time not to have meetings.” Elon Musk frustrated me. He put out a tweet and he said, “If you’re in a shitty meeting, stand up and leave the meeting.” His brother used to work for me years ago. I’ve known Elon forever. I sent him a text, I’m like, “Don’t tell people to leave shitty meetings. Fix the meetings.” If you fix the meetings, they won’t have to leave them. If you run a highly effective meeting, that is where the decisions happen, that is where the momentum starts, that is where the big shifts in the business. Do you run the same page meetings with your direct reports at all?
Not to the same level. We have weekly one on ones, which are similar but they’re not as lengthy and I don’t think they need to be. On a weekly basis, I touch base with all of my reports. We look at what are the key things that I need to be aware of, so just quick highlights, and then what do we need to dig into together. Once a month, we do more of a personal check-in. We step back from our day-to-day work and think about things. How are things going outside of work? How are some of your top priorities going? Are there any roadblocks that you’re facing? Is there any way that I can support you? We go into how you’ve lived our company values. Usually, that’s a place of talking about, I don’t want to say emotional, but the more behavioral things that are going on. It’s a place to provide each other with feedback.
Emotional is fine. The reality is that one of the roles of leaders is to remove obstacles to grow the skills and to provide the emotional support of their team. Emotional isn’t a negative thing. It’s true.
I don’t want to paint the picture that we’re in a room crying together.
I’m normally the one crying. I’ve cried in board meetings before. I had a board member looking at me and goes, “You’re crying.” I’m like, “I know. It’s emotional. I’m sorry.” There’s something that’s powerful there that when you do provide that emotional support for teams, the reality is that we’re also all struggling with this human condition in life. Everybody’s struggling with something. Sometimes it’s people at work, people at home, health, or whatever. When they feel like they have that trusted environment with us as their leader, it allows them to then excel on their job because they feel we’ve got their back.
I had this a-ha moment when I was preparing for an annual retreat. I was thinking, “What’s changed in our work environment?” I did a lot of research about it and stumbled across Esther Perel who’s a known psychotherapist. She talks about relationships all the time, but she’s also starting to delve into your relationship with work. What’s fascinating is people used to go to work to get bread on the table. Now they go to find their personal identity and gain fulfillment. The role of an employee and the role of a company has changed. You have to start thinking about, “How are we meeting the needs of this new type of worker?”
You said something which was the social clan. We have that tribe that becomes part of our social identity and it’s meaningful. That is a huge shift over many years in work where people used to just go to work. I’ve always believed that to build an amazing company, it has to be a little bit more than a business and a little bit less than a religion. It has to be in that zone of a cult. When you can find people that want to be a part of your tribe, but are also high in affiliation like they wear the logo on your back or they’ll get the company logo tattooed on them, that’s when you know you’re taking your company to the next level.
We haven’t had any tattoos yet.
At 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, one of our employees and one of our franchisees had tattoos, Jesse Kors and Nick Wood. My sister’s company, Toronto Sport & Social Club, three of her members have tattooed their company logo permanently on their bodies.
That needs to be my new BHAG.
What have you seen shift in the company as you’ve hit this mark? I’ve always felt like companies transition at the 1s and 3s like 1 person, 3 people, 10 people, 30 people, 100 people. Have you seen anything starting to change around the 30 mark now?
It unravels in different ways that you haven’t seen before unless you’re a part of it. At the 30-mark, I would say that my key focus, because I’ve seen they’re being changed, is trying to find these single sources of truth. What I mean by that is building out places that people can refer to information that they need in order to do their job successfully. Maybe at five people, knowing how many clients we have, it was like one person had a document where they were tracking it. Suddenly, at 30 people, it’s like 5 or 6 people need to know that. That’s a simple example. You think of all those things that people are asking themselves and they need the answer immediately, it’s like, “Where are you providing it so they can find it immediately?” Do their job well. If you’re hindering that from people, it’s ineffective.
That’s a fine balance between putting a system in place that’s helping people and putting a system in place that’s slowing people down. Let’s go back to Esther Perel. You talked about that she’s talking a little bit about work and that we’re looking for more out of our work. Can you give us something that you’ve specifically done then for Widerfunnel that is tapping into that in either giving more meaning to your team or showing them that you’re a ladder to their needs?
People specifically join Widerfunnel to be able to make an impact on where they work and feel like they’re delivering value in their day-to-day. To do that, you do have to create a system where people are being heard and they can input into the organizational direction. Something that’s helped us a lot is implementing traction, and we did that when we were about eighteen people. We started seeing that the communication started getting a little confusing. Implementing a meeting rhythm and a planning rhythm has been huge. You have a follow-up cadence to how you operate as an organization to get somewhere. When employees are able to see how they’re able to input into where the company is going and see us achieve those objectives and those milestones, it’s huge.
Is that something that you use to sell an employee on joining you versus joining a Shopify or Amazon or Microsoft or another technology company in town that’s bigger?
That would be one of the few things.
What else do you use?
The type of clients that we work with being based in Vancouver, there are only so many companies that you can join and directly work with like The Motley Fool or Dollar Shave Club and the HP, and be the direct key account contact for a client like that. We’re working with huge enterprise organizations. The way that we build our teams is with high trust. We hire you for your strengths and for you to deliver those. If you’re able to jump in and run, we’ll let you run, and there are not a lot of organizations that let people do that.
Who are your decision-makers on the client-side? Is it the heads of marketing or is it operational? Where do you sell into?
It’s a little bit of both. Originally, it was mostly marketing. Now we’re seeing product, heads of eComm, and VPs of operations. It’s starting to sprinkle it through the organization. Where I see it going is it’s going to be at the C-Suite for sure soon.
It’s not just split testing as the other companies stayed in their niche. You are clearly different. Who would you compete against?
Originally, there’s a handful of experimentation companies in North America. One of our competitors had been bought out by Accenture. Our market has changed overnight in that moment.
That’s got to be great for you. Somebody gets acquired by Accenture, that’s got to open up on this. The rising tide lifts all boats. It provides a lot of third-party credibility or social proof. Talk about your annual retreat. You mentioned doing an annual retreat. What do those look like for you?
They’re usually two days off-site. They’ve ranged from going to Las Vegas and going to Mexico to just staying here in Vancouver and going to Whistler. Usually, they’re there two days highly engaging, so it’s not like a social retreat. We’re working on the business. That’s another example of where we take and we invest that time to think about, “How can we bring in all of the superpowers of our entire team to focus on making our business better so they immediately see the impact?” This past one that we did, we had it divided into two days. The first day was focusing on you as an individual and the impact that you make on the team and then the organization itself. Thinking about the different layers that are required in order to be successful.
Are these retreats for the whole company?
Have you ever seen Brew Creek lodge up near Whistler?
Yeah, we went there a few years ago.
It’s a great location for a retreat, isn’t it?
Yeah, it’s unreal.
It’s one of my favorite retreats for this sized company because it gets you off the grid. The food quality is great. People are sharing cabins and walking around in shorts and t-shirts. They’ve got Wi-Fi access and you’re close enough to Whistler if you want to spin up the highway to get a great meal one of the nights. I love getting off the grid to these quieter locations versus a Vegas where there are many distractions that you can’t stay in that zone.
When we went to Vegas, we only had ten employees and we shared a massive house so it was a different Vegas experience.
We did one in Vegas one time where we shared the presidential suite at the Bellagio and we had 8 or 10 of us there. Now it turned into just boys and girls behaving badly.
Everything stayed in Vegas.
If we were ever to roll that camera back again, we’d be like, “Bad career decision for everyone. We should not do this.” Thankfully, we all came out of it but it was crazy. Is Chris the CEO?
What’s changed with him not being able to do speaking? How are you planning differently as a company if that was where some of your leads were coming from? What are you changing? How are you pivoting there?
Part of our leads is coming through being on the conference circuit. The others are the recommendations we receive from our clients. Our clients move organizations and they know how much success we brought them. We end up becoming their partner for their lifetime. It’s focusing on how we can leverage some of our champions. That’s where his effort is being prioritized. He is thinking about, “How do we stay connected with these champions? What are some of the opportunities that we can be doing with them?” He’s doing a lot of co-presenting on webinars and doing some workshops.
You talked about your curiosity being one of your strengths and being systematic. Can you give us a specific example of where that has helped, where your curiosity maybe uncovered something for you in the organization?
That happens all the time.
For when it’s your unique ability, you often downplay it and think, “That’s no big deal,” but for everybody else, it’s probably huge.
There are a lot of little recoveries that lead to big discoveries. The thing that I’d say I’m most proud of would be almost thinking intentionally about things before they happen and anticipating what challenges we might come across. When we were eighteen, people were thinking, “This is the right time to implement traction.” When you get to twenty-something, that people that are joining you aren’t questioning while you’re doing it. They just understand this is the way you operate. Similar to that is thinking about how you’re structuring the organization. I remember sitting down in Chris’s office and thinking, “Let’s forget the organization that we have right now. Let’s pretend we’re building it from scratch. What are the functional areas that we need? What are all the seats? Who are the people that we need in those seats?” It’s like creating a vision board. That was key.
We had that exercise done at one of our COO Alliance events. We’ve got an organization that’s exclusively for the second-in-command. No entrepreneurs are allowed. One of the breakouts that we did at the last event was that we had everyone lean out and do their 3-year, 2-year, and 1-year org charts, and then present them to a small breakout group of other seconds-in commands. They challenge some of those assumptions and give other ideas. It was interesting seeing the what-ifs, and then it was like, “If I know we’re going to need that person in three years, what if we hired them now? What could that do to the whole organization? Instead of hiring these two junior-level people, what if I leaned out and hired that person? What could that do to the company?” It was cool.
Something that I thought of as a cool experiment that we ran was after we had done the key functional areas, we decided that for our service delivery, we were going to keep our teams together. We weren’t going to separate them. In order to deliver our services, we have account managers, strategists, developers and designers. We were going to cohesively keep them under one umbrella because together, they need to be focused on delivering the best client value that we can. That was one of those moments where I was already anticipating. There could be issues here because you might create subcultures and divisions.
One year, we did well so we decided to award the team somehow. We’re like, “What can we do? We can give everyone $400 or $500 that gets tax deducted by quite a bit. They probably get $200 at the end of the day. Why don’t we do something cooler?” We gave them collectively $10,000 and said, “Do whatever you want.” It was the funniest experiment because now you have twenty-something people trying to decide how they’re going to spend $10,000. It took them an entire year to figure it out. They spent it but they ended up doing all these fun mini team events, which brought them closer together and re-instated the importance of having those three functions work together.
It’s amazing when teams all of a sudden form when the leader doesn’t see it coming. We put a bonus program in place years ago, where we had the top twenty media outlets that we wanted to get press coverage in. For each one, there was a higher and higher bonus because it would get harder to get all twenty within the twelve-month period. We said to the five people in PR, “Depending on which one of you gets it, if you get the fourth one, you’re going to get $400. The fifth guy is going to get $500 and the sixth one is going to get $600.”
It would get harder but you can all chase them down. The next day, we sat down with the team and we said, “What’s the plan?” They said, “We’re grouping together and we’re all sharing the bonuses. We’re dividing and conquering. The five of us are each going after four each.” We’re like, “That’s smart.” They landed 19 of the 20 programs. We never saw that coming at all. They were smarter than we were. It’s a good lesson for leaders to almost put the objective in front of the teams and let them figure out the how instead of us putting the plan in place.
To me, the definition of a great organization, specifically like a great team of leaders, is the ability to succinctly communicate what the objective is and then ensure that the team has the environment they need in order to get it.
How have you grown as a leader? Clearly, to command as an admin and writer to university and now, to be there as a second-in-command running the company as its scaling. How have you had to grow? What have you worked on in terms of your skill development over the years?
A lot. I’d narrow it down to one thing that probably held me back the most is being aware of when I can no longer fix a problem. Becoming aware, “I’ve given it my best shot. I probably need to raise my hand now and bring in an expert to solve this.”
I remembered that happening to me one day where I was at a breaking point trying to figure something out. It was either too many distractions or my skillset wasn’t strong enough or something. I pulled Brian, the CEO, aside and I’m like, “Can I grab you for a second and brainstorm on something?” We sat down with a whiteboard and all of a sudden, he was like, “You’re smart enough to do this, but you didn’t see it. It’s okay.” I realized the power of that, not have to sit there and try to figure it out all the time. We’re surrounded by smart people. Sometimes, it’s getting them involved.
Totally or like outsourcing your problems.
It needs to be solved, but not by us.
Another learning that I’ve had is being able to create a network and connect with people who are building out your antennas. When you do have an issue or a challenge or an opportunity arise and you need a different perspective, you can tap into that.
It’s a who problem, not a how problem. If you were to go back to your younger self, what’s a word of business advice that you’d give yourself back then that now you know to be true but you wish you’d known at a younger age? This is when you’re graduating from university and you’re getting ready to start in your career.
I wish I had done more self-reflection on what my greatest strengths are. I had a good understanding but I had no idea I wanted to go down the operations path. It’s probably fine because it does take some exploring. I am curious, what would have maybe changed had I known that? Had I thought about what are the things that excite me? Where do I attain flow? What am I most drawn to? I was looking back at all the internships I did and I realized that in every single internship that I had and every job I’ve ever had, I created a manual. If that doesn’t say something, I don’t know what does.
We don’t notice it in ourselves. We’re still young and still thinking that we’re screwing everything up. That’s a great lesson. Victoria Petriw, the VP of Operations for Widerfunnel, thank you for sharing with us on the show. I appreciate your time.
Thanks. Have a good one.
- Port Moody & Co.
- Build a Biz Kids
- You Should Test That
- Meetings Suck
- Free PR
- Esther Perel
- Brew Creek
About Victoria Petriw
WiderFunnel is a leading experimentation company that helps enterprise brands make confident business decisions by co-creating insight-driven experimentation programs.
Victoria leads the business operation teams of Finance, HR, IT, Legal and Administration, and designs seamless experiences for the company to happily and profitably grow and operate. In the six years since Victoria joined the company, WiderFunnel has become one of the top 50 fastest growing companies in BC, achieving 355% revenue growth and 125% team growth.
Outside of work, Victoria is always crafting new experiences to enjoy, usually in the form of trying out new hobbies. She is the co-founder of Port Moody & Co., a lifestyle brand that promotes the incredible people, places and businesses of Port Moody. She is also the President of the Board of Directors for Build a Biz Kids, a non-profit that offers after school & summer camp programs for children and youth to develop their entrepreneurial skills.