Name: Natasha Shine-Zirkel
Job Title and Description: Chief Marketing Officer at Rounds
College Name/Major: Irvine Valley College in South Orange County, California/Business Administration with an emphasis in Business Management and The IDC Herzliya/Marketing major and Finance minor
What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Natasha Shine-Zirkel: As a member of the executive Rounds management team, I am heavily involved in the ongoing business operations with our CEO. My main responsibilities that my job consists of are running the marketing and business development side of things. There’s no such thing as a typical day, but in the span of the day I generally work on a variety of different projects.
For example, I could be working on an analysis of our user acquisition, planning out our next college campus campaign, going over a press release, building a strategy for penetrating new markets, assessing our ASO standings and researching and writing new texts for A/B testing, managing our social media channels, attending management meetings, working on due diligence, interviewing final candidates for different HR positions, the list goes on!
What is the best part of your job?
NSZ: The best part of my job, and about being in a startup in general, is being able to do a little bit of everything. I love hands on work and thrive in an environment where I get to explore different marketing and business opportunities.
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
NSZ: My first taste of marketing was during my teenage years. I was attending community college and waiting tables at a number of restaurants. When my boss opened a new restaurant, I helped market the restaurant and build the catering department. Waiting tables was a form of marketing and sales - you understand the type of customer you have in front of you, and you change your sales pitch, your tone and the way you interact with them accordingly.
Afterwards I moved to Israel and started studying at the IDC Herzliya where I completed a marketing internship as part of my scholarship volunteer hours. In my last year of studies, I started working at the Zell Entrepreneurship Program, a venture creation program for excelled students. Being the program coordinator, it gave me my first look into the world of entrepreneurship and what the startup high tech scene had to offer. My first “entry-level” job out of college was at an internet payment service provider doing compliance, a job that I really didn’t like, and to be honest, wasn’t very good at. But, when you’re in college, I think you have this perception that upon graduation, the offers just start to flood in. Well, that doesn’t happen, and I got nervous, so I took the first job I was offered. That was a mistake. After eight months I decided enough was enough. I thought about taking some time off to maybe travel for a month as I had been at college for six years and then directly into the workforce with no break. So I decided to look for a project that would challenge me in an environment where I could hone in on my marketing skills.
At the time, Rounds had just launched their beta site and were looking for young Americans to be active users on the platform and introduce new users to it. The hours were part-time and it sounded like fun, so I started looking into it. But the more I found out about Rounds, the more I loved the idea, and the more ideas I had. So when I came for my interview, they were interviewing me for an active user position and I was interviewing them for a marketing manager position. They had no intention on hiring someone in marketing prior, but I won, and together we were able to build the position for me from there.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?
NSZ: Not necessarily about my industry but about the psychology of being a woman in business. Firstly, being brought up in London and raised in America, I have English mannerisms and an American mentality, which are totally different from the very “in your face” and honest Israeli business (and personal) culture. Secondly, I’m surrounded by men all day, and it took me a while to find my own voice. Thirdly, like many other women I know, I have struggled with the imposter syndrome. Constantly fighting with other people’s perceptions of me, what I know, and what I think I know. It took me a long time to feel comfortable and really understand where I’m at.
And lastly, I’m a very emotional person. Some may consider that a negative, but over the years I’ve come to realize that’s just who I am. It’s not naivety or immaturity; it’s just a part of me. I’ve worked hard on dealing with my emotions in the workplace, bettering my reactions to things, and most importantly, just accepting that’s part of what makes me, me. I always tell my colleagues, the moment I start being less emotional and start caring less, is the moment we have a problem!
What words of wisdom (well-known quotes, an anecdote from your boss) do you find most valuable?
NSZ: “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” - Thomas Edison
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
NSZ: Wow, I’ve probably made a lot, but I learned from all of them! I think that learning about oneself and your skill set is an important part of being a good employee, manager and entrepreneur. You’re not going to be good at everything; no one is. But it’s really important to know your strengths and weakness - play on your strengths, try and improve your weaknesses and surround yourself with people that even you out. It’s really okay not to be good at everything, but just know where you stand.
What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
NSZ: Passion for the product, someone who really gets what we’re trying to achieve and believes in it. Someone that fits in with the company culture and meshes well with the company dynamics and team. Someone that gets on well in a team but can work independently. Someone creative that shows initiate and can execute and not just strategize. I look for doers that want to work hard, learn and grow.
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
NSZ: I would tell them to pick a company or product they are passionate about, a team they like and respect and a position that challenges them. I believe you make your own luck; don’t wait for other people to give you opportunities, work hard to earn them and go and get them for yourself. Don’t let the imposter syndrome or your insecurities get in the way of what you deserve, and what you can achieve. And try and communicate with the people around you the best you can. Whether that’s to your manager, your team members, or the people you are managing, having good communication skills is key (and that goes for any type of relationship).