Meet Lisa Conibear, Global Commercial Director at Zoomo

Lisa Conibear

Lisa is the Global Commercial Director for Zoomo in Europe. She is responsible for European strategy, growth and operations. Lisa has 10 years of experience, building and funding mobility, fintech and energy companies. She was formerly in commodities trading for Shell.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I have been with Zoomo for two years, having previously worked at a charitable foundation as well as Shell. I have been lucky to have had a really diverse career (more on that below!).

I started at Zoomo as the UK GM, we had just launched in Europe and it was me, one other employee, and a few mechanics. We grew the business x10 in the first year, before tripling it the following year. I’ve moved roles a few times since I started, but I now run our global sales, business development, and commercial strategy teams. I am however more specialised today than at the start, during the first six months I was a jack of all trades!

You would often find me fixing bikes, working at our stores, doing HR, finance, real estate, and negotiating contracts, so it was all hands on deck in the earlier months!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Only before I graduated! However, all my plans went out the window when I started applying for jobs. It was 2009 and I wanted to work at an impactful start-up. I studied business and economics but I was passionate about working in a company that had a social impact. In 2009 you were lucky to get a job offer anywhere, so I could not be picky and took a role at Shell. It offered travel, incredible training opportunities, and helped me start to pay off student debt! I have spent the rest of my career slowly pivoting to where I am now – in a leadership role at an impactful startup. It hasn’t been easy to manage this pivot whilst not sacrificing seniority. I have twice resigned without having a next role, and both times I tried to be picky about my next venture and ensure that I was tracking towards what I wanted. Throughout my career, I have received more than 100 rejections and only a small handful of offers. Thankfully those offers were ones that I truly wanted.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

As I mentioned I previously received more than 100 rejections, in fact I have a special folder in my Gmail just for them! Many of these were because of my non-traditional career path, oil and gas trading, charity, start-up- – so I guess on the face of it they don’t seem to have much in common!

Recruiters would reject me without even talking to me, and I knew it was essential I got facetime with the recruiter or the hiring manager of the roles I wanted, otherwise I was certain I would be rejected. However, once I had a face-to-face meeting, I was confident I could get an offer. Getting this facetime was hard, especially as my network was not as strong as I would have liked – this is why people do MBAs! I found that the best tactic was to ask for referrals, often through reaching out on LinkedIn with analysis and insights to share with hiring managers and use whatever network I had.

I had to be shameless, and people and hiring managers respected me for it, it turns out that people were more willing to help than I expected. Ultimately though I put in the work – I didn’t show up to any meeting without days of prep and a head full of ideas to talk to them about.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

100% it has been building Zoomo and our culture in Europe. The business was originally run on Whatsapp when I joined, yup, you read that correctly. Yet we had the ambition to turn Zoomo into the most successful, professional, and admired company in this space – and together with my colleagues in hardware, software, supply chain, and everything in between, we have built what we hoped to.

I have been a part of building a business that in Europe currently employs more than 200 people and operates in four countries. The culture blows my mind, people are happy, inquisitive, and competitive, and they feel real joy in their work. We trust people to try things, fail, succeed, and talk about the experience – I am very proud of playing a part in building this team.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

The trust equation, everyone is bored of hearing me constantly talk about it. Early in my career, I could not get people to trust me. I was making the right decisions, I was opinionated, and I moved quickly, but I was not a leader. It took for my mentor to take me aside and talked me through the trust equation – and I realised that I could not succeed if I did not change my attitude. This shift has been instrumental in my leadership journey, as I learned that one of the best ways to develop trust is to listen and act on what you hear. I mean real, true, active listening where the objective is to hear the other person and understand them. Listening is a rare gift to give to someone and is valued by stakeholders at all levels. As we go into tougher economic times things are going to be hard for many companies and teams. Yet sitting and listening to each other is a powerful tool that we can all use to achieve personal and professional success.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Do your research – read up on things and do your homework, know your subject inside and out, and come prepared with questions, opinions and analysis, these will make you stand out from the crowd. Even if you are shy or starting as a junior, you can still form an opinion and ask recruiters, hiring managers, or senior leadership for their thoughts. When I hire or promote, I look for intelligence, enthusiasm, hard work, and an excellent attitude. Also, use the trust equation – think about it daily and try to develop trust with everyone you meet. It’s an excellent muscle to build!

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Absolutely. primarily we need more female leaders and founders in tech. In 2020, Crunchbase revealed that the amount of VC funding toward women-led startups dropped to 2.3%. This is a crazy number and is simply not good enough! There are so many women out there building leading tech companies of the future, but they are not getting the funds to start, or grow, their businesses. The lack of investment in women-led startups has a ripple effect. Without the financial backing, these businesses don’t thrive, and when women-led businesses don’t thrive they don’t get the attention they need (i.e. inclusion in panels, media articles highlighting founders). And once this happens, you have fewer role models for females to look up to. This ultimately makes it harder to get hired or promoted as a woman. It can be easy to conclude that women are not as smart or as entrepreneurial because there are not as many female leaders or founders. All women need to fight these stereotypes in order to succeed.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

The more women in leadership roles that we are exposed to, in the press, on panels, or at conferences, the sooner we will think of them as leaders. We need to change the minds of all stakeholders to think of women as holding the same potential as men.

Here is where we can start this transition:

  • Talk about women that inspire us
  • Talk about successful women in tech, at all levels of organisations
  • Put women on panels
  • Promote women

In fact, I was named a Remarkable Women in Transport Female Change-Maker transforming mobility by Transformance Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI), so I would like to see overall more industries encourage and recognise those females that are making a difference in their field and really championing and promoting what they do!

There are currently only 21 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

I would change the perception that the most confident speakers will deliver the most value for companies. Men are often more confident speakers, they voice opinions more freely and they are willing to engage in more heated quick-fire conversations. Society currently equates these traits with financial success. However, I have found that more considered speakers, more thoughtful thinkers, and more collaborative ideation result in better outcomes and happier teams. I would love for more leaders to value and promote individuals with these traits.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I recommend finding female mentors – whether that is at the office, on LinkedIn, through tech groups, and asking for their support. Networking is such an important thing to do, and it is so much easier to do now with social media offering lots of networking/mentoring groups. Read up on your chosen industry, be aware of conferences, know the main players and follow industry news – more importantly, never be afraid of asking for advice – it’s usually the first step in getting conversations happening!