You’ve got to be strong. Never give up. Be persistent. Be consistent. Get help.
As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrea Loubier. Andrea has been recognized as one of the thought leaders and top female entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia. As CEO of Mailbird, Andrea takes inspiration from many other leading female tech entrepreneurs in changing the mindset and way we conduct personal and business communication through email today. With Andrea as the muscle behind pushing Mailbird into the forefront of tech companies in the world, Mailbird has been nominated by PC World as one of the best productivity tools for the business person, IT World named Mailbird the best email client for Windows, and Microsoft even nominated Mailbird as Startup of the Day. Andrea is a contributor for Forbes and The Asian Entrepreneur. She’s been featured and interviewed on Bloomberg TV and BBC. Andrea’s backbone comes from her experience in building strategic relationships, conceptual selling skills, multiple project and people management, cross team communication and coordination, leadership, project bidding and billing, and client correspondence with top international corporate enterprises that include Proctor and Gamble, KAO Brands and Ubisoft, among many other highly reputable brands. As the CEO of Mailbird, dedicated to building a great company and finding opportunities in business for her team to develop a healthy relationship with email for the world.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I always worked since I was 15 years old when I got my first part time job, I never stopped working all the way through college. After college I got a full time position offered to me in a management role in market research, so I took it. I was promoted each year, gaining extensive experience in working with huge enterprise clients. Also, I was that young, hungry professional looking for constant gratification, challenge and reward in my professional career. Eventually I reached the top of where I could progress and realized it was time to pursue a new work experience and culture. I got my second professional role within a tech company, which I was amazed at how different and inspiring the culture was at this face paced work environment. So I decided I wanted to create my own company, and in technology that would allow me to work from anywhere and build something out of nothing. This is what excited me and brought me down the entrepreneurial path to becoming the CEO of Mailbird, the best email client in the world for business in building a healthy relationship with email again.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Attending my first tech conference in Indonesia, I was surprised to see the attention Mailbird received being lead by a female CEO. This lead to some discomfort and feeling that you “don’t belong” but also open the doors to more opportunity and interest. With our continue empowerment story of women lead tech companies, we were able to acquire amazing talent from across the globe. Today things are much less of a shock in the world of tech to see a woman leading a technology company, and I feel fortunate to have been one of the women to break that glass ceiling for women, particularly in SEA.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I decided to launch Mailbird in China, without doing thorough research on the market and channels to reach the right target audiences. We didn’t understand how different cultural implications would make our marketing efforts mute and irrelevant. The obvious lesson here is knowing that localizing your business in any market, requires more than a quick 1 month prep to launch to market. It requires a local team in that region who understands the culture, the means of communication, the language and the channels and the right marketing strategy that fits with that market.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We gave Microsoft a run when it comes to the email competition for PC users. We offered the best alternative, a fresh and innovative email management solution that was customized by our users, affordable and without limitation that you had with just Outlook. We worked with the fast changing market trends in how people use online communication, and now they unify, organize and streamline that communication — especially when it comes to business communication.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, since 2012 Mailbird has been focused on delivering the best unified email experience to the world of email users on Windows/PC. Today we are bringing a new product to the world of Mailbird for Business, with all the key productivity and communication management features built in and continuing to evolve. We are building an email solution for companies and teams that brings ease, collaboration and unification to business email management. Mailbird Business is bringing a positive relationship and solution, to the current chaotic and stressful association employees/team members within a company experience with email communication.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
I would advise other female leaders to stay strong, as there are many more adversities in business for us and you need to be strong, direct, persistent and you will need to prove yourself more so than your male counterparts. This is the environment we live it, but it is getting better. Remember that women are strong, and that is why so many of us succeed and build highly profitable businesses and can stay persistent in our actions to reaching a specific goal.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
Spend time with your high performers who you see having a clear path of commitment and dedication to the company, spend time with them. That means frequent 1 on 1’s to discuss, coach, guide and motivate them into being one of the key engines in team and business management. You need great people at the top to manage a team of great people on the bottom line in a symbiotic manager to employee development road map.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I think friends who choose a similar path in their professional career are always great to have in your life for purposes of discussion, shared learnings and support. Starting a business from scratch and growing it is exciting and challenging at the same time, and I would say there are two people both a friend of mine who also decided to start their own tech company and also my business coach. They both offer different perspectives outside of the bubble you are in, within your company and business. I am grateful for them since they were able to many times bring clarity to my outlook on particular business challenges, and they were supportive of me through all of that.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Of course, if you are in a position where you have any kind of influence or ability to inspire the world for the better, it would be a waste to not be able to leverage your own success to bring something positive and helpful to the world. In my case it has primarily been about supporting women in tech, women in executive roles and being “real” about what it’s really like to start a company, to combat all the hype and startup success stories that are promoted constantly in the tech industry. It’s all about success, and not so much about the hardships and the impact the industry has on an individual who is just trying to do something good for the world, to help people, which can many times get skewed by greed and perfection.
I also like to share stories about the difficulties of being a woman executive in the tech industry, who also manages a team, a business and their world of customers whilst already having a full time job managing my own self in professional development, personal development and balance …for my specific story, the extra layer of challenge comes with all the weight of responsibility of running a company on top of the already full time job of managing your personal health and mental well being as a type 1 diabetic. I like to share those stories, because it is not easy, but I like to inspire other type 1 diabetics to know that it’s possible, despite being dealt a very unfair card of the emotional and physical complications that come with managing the disease.
I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish, and I know I am very strong as a person to endure and handle everything I have been able to overcome and achieve as woman, as an entrepreneur, as a leader, as a diabetic in the roller coaster adventure of running a successful company like Mailbird. Additionally we have worked on different campaigns at Mailbird in raising funds and donating to charities that we directly support.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
You’ve got to be strong. Never give up. Be persistent. Be consistent. Get help.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
In a world with technology, despite the many advancements that have enabled the human race to do more, we live under immense pressure and stress and under direct scrutiny of the world. The irony of this is despite working as a CEO of a tech company, I cannot stress enough how important it is to take a break, to balance, to step away from technology (something we’ve become so addicted to), to slow down in a fast paced world with technology as the culprit behind our unhealthy lives when it comes to balance.
That’s why it is so important to ensure we build sustainable and healthy relationships with technologies we use today, even if it means you need to schedule that time away and disconnected from tech. Instead focus on yourself and your environment and your support network around you, to find that balance. It’s best shared with a Swedish saying my friend taught me called “Lagom”. Lagom means just the right amount, in moderation, in balance, simple and suitable. Anytime we get swallowed up by the pressures and over stimulation of the world through technology, just think of “Lagom”.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Take care of yourself: When you don’t sleep, eat crap, don’t exercise, and are living off adrenaline for too long, your performance suffers. Your decisions suffer. Your company suffers. Love those close to you: Failure of your company is not failure in life. Failure in your relationship is.” ―Ev Williams, co-founder of Medium and Twitter. This is relevant to me because it becomes a regular battle you are faced with when running a business, and if you don’t take balancing work and life seriously, then one of the other will suffer. It’s a great reminder of what is most important in life.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Melinda Gates would be badass to have a sit down with, for a number of reasons. Some obvious, some not. For the obvious reasons, well she is one of the top female business influencers in the world. She is smart. She has held executive roles in industries and in previous decades where women were not so welcome. She’s philanthropic and is proactive in addressing some of the world’s biggest issues. She is married to Bill Gates and together they portray a very down to earth and rational mindset, considering their success and major contributions to the world.
She doesn’t gloat. She supports women leaders and those striving to do something big. It would be an incredible opportunity for me to sit down and ask all the many questions I have about balance, success, perseverance as a woman in executive and highly influential roles. Having been a leader at Microsoft, and with Mailbird choosing Microsoft’s OS as the platform on top of which we built our business around, that connection would be amazing in understanding the journey and exploring the possibility of collaboration with them.
Thank you for all of these great insights!
About the author:
Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click here to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.