Romy Newman: Glassbreaker of the Day
As originally published on Glassbreakers
What is your name?
What do you do?
I'm co-founder of Fairygodboss, a free, anonymous employer review site for women by women. Previously, I was with The Wall Street Journal for 7 years in sales and operating roles, most recently as Head of Digital Advertising.
Why do you love your job?
It's the most exhilarating job I've ever had! Every day is a new challenge and I am learning constantly. Working on a startup, it feels like the stakes are so high - and that is nerve-wracking but also very rewarding. I have a great business partner, Georgene Huang, who inspires me. Most of all, I am excited about the idea of helping women - many of whom are working hard to have success at work and provide for their families all at the same time.
What is your proudest career moment?
Before Fairygodboss, my proudest career moment was helping to make the re-launch of WSJ Weekend so successful. As a salesperson, the most authentic sale is always something you believe in deeply as a user - and I felt that way about WSJ Weekend for sure. Now, at Fairygodboss, I think I'm proud every day that we beat our previous traffic record or land a new customer.
What advice do you have for other women who want to be in your role in two years?
I would say being a co-founder is not for the faint of heart. It's tricky because the lines between work and your personal life blur until their essentially non-existent. If you are interested in starting your own business, you should do a lot of background research, and get a really thorough understanding of your audience and/or customers before launching. And, you should have unwavering belief in your idea because it will be challenged constantly - by others, by you and by business challenges you face.
Outside of your day job, what else are you passionate about?
I am passionate about my two beautiful children, my amazing and supportive husband. I am also passionate about practicing yoga. Recently, I'm downright obsessed with the musical Hamilton.
Have you had any inspiring mentorship moments in your career?
In my first job out of college, I was ambitious and hardworking but pretty clueless about expectations of the workplace. My manager at the time, Donna, took me out for a drink one night. She told me that my work was great, but I couldn't get promoted if I kept showing up late for work. My post-college self had assumed it was no problem 10-15 minute late every day - especially when I was staying late - and I never thought twice about it. But it was clearly not acceptable in the culture. Donna could have just penalized me for it, but instead she addressed it with me very delicately and out of the office so I was less embarrassed. I'll never forget her support and generosity. It reminds me that we all have to take care of each other and help each other out. We never know what someone else might be thinking...or missing.
What other women in your industry do you admire?
She's not in my industry, but the professional woman I admire above all is Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. I'm quite certain she has the hardest job in the business world and she handles it with grace, focus and aplomb (which can't be easy when you're trying to run a huge business and deal with Congressional hearings at the same time). She has shown the world how a woman can do a superb job running a major industrial company with great success. In 2015, she led the third year of record sales in a row, in the wake of a major crisis no less. Most of all, she is deeply invested in advancing women in STEM through her charitable pursuits. What an amazing lady! Mary, if you are reading, I would really love a chance to meet you one day...
What have you learned from failure (either yours or a failure that directly impacted you)?
I've learned that despite the best research, preparation and instincts, things don't always work out. It's nearly impossible to predict what products or businesses will succeed. So instead of being disappointed with failure, you should be proud of your efforts no matter the outcome. My favorite business school professor - who taught statistics - used to say about blackjack: "If you are making the right bet, you should smile when you're putting the chips on the table, not when you find out whether you've won or lost."
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