‘Changing the World Is Attainable’: Tips From a Director Who Founded Her Company’s Philanthropic Arm

Sponsored by Axon

Axon employees.

Photo courtesy of Axon.

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Fairygodboss
June 21, 2024 at 12:0PM UTC

At 25, Isabella Giannini is one of the youngest directors at Axon. As the Director of Customer Loyalty, she oversees global customer loyalty business, bringing tenacity, drive and dedication to Axon’s mission and vision and spearheading their strategic programs and public safety solutions.

Giannini began her career as a sales development representative in their Sales Leadership Development Program (LDP) in 2018. When Hurricane Florence hit, she and the company’s Chief Revenue Officer saw an untapped use for Axon’s people and technology: to help first responders and emergency teams see the situation from angles above, within and beyond by leveraging Axon’s tech suite.

“Listening to emergency teams on the ground in Hurricane Florence led to the core of the idea to support responders with more effective technology post-disasters,” said Giannini. With her desire to help and passion about this project, Giannini spent months interviewing agencies to determine their needs and biggest obstacles. “It became clear that giving first responders a view from the skies could help save lives in disaster response and recovery efforts,” she concluded.

With this knowledge in hand — and with the full support of her manager — Giannini pitched her idea of providing drone technology support to agencies in the wake of natural disasters to Axon leaders. In less than a week, the leadership team enthusiastically agreed to create what is now Axon Aid, a philanthropic arm of Axon.

“The pride I feel for Axon Aid is indescribable,” shares Giannini. “I’m tremendously thankful for my mentors who encouraged me to approach Axon leadership with my ideas, and I’m beyond grateful to these leaders for their excitement and support. It feels a little surreal that this team came to fruition and became an integral part of Axon’s philanthropic efforts in a matter of four years.”

Today, because of her vision, Axon Aid has three pillars of focus: emergency response, mental health and wellness and officer safety. Since its inception, Axon Aid has deployed emergency response teams to more than 15 cities and supported more than 180 families through its Fallen Officer Fund.

As for Giannini, her career has also rapidly grown and flourished at Axon. During the time Axon Aid was coming into being, she was promoted from an LDP Sales Development Representative to Axon’s Manager of E-commerce, to the Sr. Manager of Customer Loyalty and then, this year, to Director.

“I continue to learn every day as the team grows,” Giannini notes about her progress. “I started as a department of one and now have 15 colleagues! I’m grateful for Axon’s workplace culture, which encourages each of us to pursue meaningful career paths while providing us the support we need to make it happen.”

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Giannini firsthand about her inspiring work. Here’s what she had to say.

Tell us a little more about your job.

I oversee three teams: Axon Roadshow, Customer Loyalty and Axon Aid. I have the opportunity to express my passion for Axon’s mission to Protect Life and my love for customer service and philanthropy every day. I’m constantly working to identify opportunities to increase Axon’s reach while acting as one of our customers’ fiercest advocates.

By nurturing relationships with our partners and celebrating the often thankless work they do, we not only make those partners feel valued, but we get to know them more personally and can thus better create products.

I also lead our Critical Customer Escalations team, which engages with partner agencies that have severe and mission-critical issues. It’s extremely rewarding to help fix an issue a partner is facing with true empathy. I come to work every day excited to help public safety and the communities they serve.

One of my proudest accomplishments at Axon has been founding Axon Aid. The Axon Aid team leverages Axon technology to provide resources to first responders and their families and communities at no cost, including emergency response drone teams to assist in post-disaster response, mental health resources for first responders and their families and financial assistance to families that have suffered a tragic loss of a loved responder.

How is your experience as the first person in your role a reflection of your company’s overall culture?

Axon Aid’s origin story truly exemplifies what it’s like to work at Axon. When I pitched the concept, I was a new hire. Rather than brush me off as an entry-level employee, my manager and Axon embraced the idea, and, together, we brought it to life. The investment Axon has in people and philanthropy solidified my commitment to the company and being here for the long haul. My time at Axon has made me feel changing the world for the better is attainable, and the genuine passion I feel from our executive team is motivating.

The team and company have grown so much in the short time I’ve been here. Axon encourages employees to share innovative thoughts or program ideas regardless of their role or tenure, even if that idea falls outside your department. While all companies do have a mission and values, Axon employees truly live those values.

Some of us are former law enforcement or have family in the profession. Others are veterans. Some have been impacted by mass shootings in our community. Regardless of our reasons, Axon’s mission to Protect Life means something to each of us. The fact that Axon is a remote-first, flexible workplace with great benefits is a huge plus — but it’s not what reels in candidates. It’s the people and the culture of caring, fun and innovation that attract talent. It’s the candid environment, cross-team collaboration and support from leadership that keep people here.

Axon’s culture is palpable as early as the interview process, and it’s exciting to feel it grow as our team expands. I encourage all early career applicants to consider Axon. The learning is exponential, and my personal growth has matched the rapid growth of the company at large.

What are the challenges and advantages of this role?

The challenges are broad, especially for a young manager. Setting the strategy for a team is one of the most critical components of managing because it drives the team forward, allows subordinate leaders to keep focus and gives the prime directive of where and how we impact Axon’s business and customers.

Strategy can be challenging for any leader but especially when you’re in uncharted territory. It becomes that much more important because the company is taking a chance with its investment and needs to prove an ROI to the business. The best way I’ve learned to overcome this is to lean into what I know will help us win: our customers. VOC (voice of the customer) has been part of Axon’s success since our inception.

The challenge of “uncharted territory” can also be an advantage. My favorite part of my job is the autonomy I have to be creative in designing solutions for tough problems. There aren’t a lot of companies that would allow a young leader to build out a department from scratch, and this trust and confidence my manager had in me gave me the confidence to create a vision for something really great. I’m constantly thinking about how to instill this same trust and confidence in my team.

How do you approach integrating your personal life and your career?

My personal life mirrors my professional life — fast-moving, full of people I admire and love and somewhat chaotic. I follow the motto of “work hard, play hard” — I love my job and am constantly finding creative ideas to bring to work through non-work avenues. I work hard to drive aggressive focus on our goals, not just for me but for my team. I bring 120% to the job and intentionally build in time off. I love to travel internationally, and, during those trips, I completely check out from work. My managers and the People Ops team have been great at reminding us to unplug, take PTO when we need it and set boundaries.

Every person may have a different way to unplug that works for them, but it’s critical that everyone “owns” that for themselves. I take no shame in PTO and actually believe it’s the most responsible way to push my team to deliver exceptional results every year.

What’s your No. 1 tip for women who are looking for jobs right now?

Pursue a position with a company that aligns with your passions. When you choose a job related to something that excites you, you’ll be happier and stay with that company longer. But, more importantly, the passion you feel for your work will push you to deliver results far beyond those you thought you were capable of achieving.

Women have unique superpowers built into our DNA. We are highly compassionate, organized and determined leaders. When you focus on what you understand and care about, you’ll be unstoppable.



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