We met with Bella who works as a Head of Supply Partnerships at D-LAB to discuss her professional path, what drives her in work and what confidence means to her.
Ani: Could you please shortly describe your professional path till now?
Bella: I come from Armenia and I studied Marketing as my Bachelor, after which I worked in my home country for 4 years. Then in order to develop my marketing and language skills, I decided to do an MBA in the Netherlands. After studies I continued to work there and later moved to Berlin to work in the field of performance marketing.
Ani: As far as I know, last year you made a bold move together with your colleagues to start your own company. Could you please tell a bit more about why you decided to do it and what you are doing now?
Bella: I have worked at several Berlin based startups prior to starting this company. To be honest, we got to the point when we understood that in bigger companies and startups management does not help you to grow professionally. Often when you have a different idea on how to move forward, things get stuck and you don't have a chance to grow and to apply new approaches. That is why together with my friends we decided that it is time for us to take it in our hands and last year after strategy planning and risk calculations, we decided to do it ourselves.
Our company is an agency and we work directly with advertisers who would like to promote their apps and we do this for them. The fun part is that we choose with whom to work. Since all of us already have experience in this field, we know with whom we want to work and with whom we don't.
Ani: Not everyone can make such a move and start their own business, that’s what most people think. What is your opinion on this?
Bella: I think that if someone likes to be independent, likes to have freedom to think and to use their creativity, it is the right thing to do. I know that some people can say: "Oh, it's performance marketing. How much creativity do you need?" It's not true. If you are creative, you will find a way to use it. In my case, for example, we are a small team. You don't just do what your title says. You also have to do other tasks. For example, I did branding and logo for our company which is where I could apply my creativity. So I have space for implementing my own thoughts.
But the best part of it is not just having the thoughts but also having people who listen to them. I think that is the most difficult part in bigger companies, where the management team already has a vision and how the company must operate, so it's difficult to break through that wall. Often there is no right or wrong. Especially in online marketing where everything changes very fast. So in order to be able to be the best of yourself you need to give the opportunity for someone to give you an advice on how to do things differently.
Ani: We all heard that working in a small team has many benefits but also brings some difficulties. How do you see it?
Bella: We help each other to be better, we help each other to do things differently. Sometimes it's difficult to hear someone sitting next to you saying: "You are doing this wrong". Particularly once you are used to being autonomous. Nevertheless, once you have a certain level of trust with your colleagues then you start taking it not as criticism but as an advice. That's when you see the doors opening for you.
Ani: You managed to kick off and be successful after already a few months. That's really impressive! What do you think are the main reasons why it happened?
Bella: Performance marketing is a small world. It's very international and we have clients from all around the world, but still the industry is quite small. What helped us is having prior experience in the field. In the previous years we have already built a name for ourselves as professionals. When we started our company, we reached out to all partners who already knew us and with whom we had a good professional connection. It does not matter at which company you work, what matters is you being honest and trustworthy.
Ani: “A good name is better than richer?”
Bella: Yes, exactly! And that is what was so incredible about it. Even though we live in a digital world, having a personal connection and being a good human helped a lot and made a big difference. I am glad that having human connections still matters to people.
Ani: What drives you in work?
Bella: The team. It makes me want to go to the office everyday. We spend most of our life at work. So it's crucial for me to spend it with people I really like and get along with. That is like having half of the job done. In regard to the field, the international aspect of it is what I enjoy the most. I love interacting with people from around the world and making meaningful connections.
Ani: What is confidence for you?
Bella: Confidence is when you are honest to yourself. Very importantly it is about expressing your opinion and definitely listening to others. Sometimes you might think you know what you are talking about. But a confident person, as I see it, is a person who hears facts or another point of view, and accepts that he or she might be mistaken and ready to review his or her point of view.
Ani: Very well said! My last question would be: what is your piece of advice for working women out there?
Bella: I know that in many cases women still have less opportunities or they are heard less. But I believe that if you have an opinion and you think it works, you should be persistent. Also try not to just make a statement, but rather provide examples for people to understand the world the way you do. I think that will help you in getting support from others and being there for you. Never give up. Believe in yourself and that you bring something to the society and people you work with. And last but not least, remember that you have a right to express yourself.
Ani: What an inspiring way to end our interview. Thank you very much, Bella!
If you would like to get in touch with Bella, feel free to connect with her through her LinkedIn.
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Photography: Mariana Roncalli