It is a pleasure to highlight the work of Celia Francis in this week’s Inspirational Women in Business series. Celia is the former CEO of Rated People, the exciting marketplace for finding local tradespeople with over 50,000 people to choose from across the UK. She has previously ran WeeWorld, the internet business creating games inspiring social creativity between 2005 and 2014. Celia has also mentored several start-up businesses and she is the Co-Chair of the London Chapter of H2, the global leadership network for the digital industry.
1. Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“You have your whole life ahead of you. Enjoy the view a little. Don’t rush it.” This was the advice I got from my CEO in my first proper job. I was a product manager in his company and told him that I wanted to be CEO. He was trying to say enjoy the journey and all the great experiences and learnings along the way. So yes, create and go hard in pursuit of the career that you want but remember that each role gives you the chance to learn a new functional craft and build up the experienced intuition that you will need later to shape a business strategically and hire and execute well when you are in charge of a team. Also, not being the ultimate boss of a business right away gives you the time and emotional space in your personal life to make mistakes and learn and also to have a little fun while enjoying the view.
2. Worst piece of advice you’ve been given?
“Eat this jellybean, it tastes great!” from my daughter, a few seconds later I was spitting and gagging – something Harry Potter related. Beware of small pranksters.
3. What would you tell your younger self?
I would tell her to not overreact too quickly to seemingly ‘bad news’. I’ve learned to take my time to see if something good is hidden in the changes happening at work or in my personal life. Sometimes what seems to be really upsetting at first actually out to be excellent news. And sometimes is just means that something else even more beautiful is around the corner.
4. What excites you most about the future of your industry?
What I love about the tech sector is the optimism about the future and what might be possible to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems. I love reading MIT Technology Review and the stories of entrepreneurs tackling critical, hard problems that we are facing as a planet. When I read about the analysis done by scientists that we can plant a trillion trees and turn around global warming and that the land is available around the world to do this I felt so grateful to the scientists who did the study
I feel like there is hope to keep a rich and varied living planet alive and healthy if we all work together.
At Rated People, what excites me is applying years of our team’s collective tech and product experience to improve the connections between trades business and homeowners. The wonder of technology is that you can use software to make everything about the customer’s experience more and more delightful and helpful over time.
We have an incredibly rich roadmap of innovation rolling out for all types of customers to enjoy. It is really fun to see the whole talented team so engaged in growing the business.
5. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
Though this may be a common answer but the person who probably has been the biggest inspiration to me was my father. He was infinitely curious intellectually and open minded to various viewpoints. He loved people and was truly interested in them. I never once heard him speak ill of anyone. He was also highly principled and had the courage to stand up for people in need. Plus he was a great dancer, loved spontaneous adventure and made us all laugh with his bad jokes. I’m always striving to be able to live up to the bar he set with his character and of course to have the courage to also walk my own unique path outside of parental expectation. In the end that is the main thing that we truly own in life.