Hop into the conversation with Stacy Brown-Philpot, the CEO of TaskRabbit.
S: My first job was a paper route that I shared with my brother when I was about 9 years old. When I was a little older, I also worked as a cashier at my uncle’s pharmacy. After graduating from high school, I went to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School for undergrad and after college got a job at PricewaterhouseCoopers as an audit associate and completed my CPA.
My interest in tech came while I was working in investment banking at Goldman Sachs in 1999. I became fascinated with startups that were creating businesses achieving significant value in public markets, and I wanted to understand more about value creation driven by innovation. I decided to get my MBA at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, which is in the heart of Silicon Valley, and the rest is history.
R: What was it like working at Google?
S: Someone once told me that companies like Google only come along once in your lifetime, and after working there for nine years, I realized they were right. It was an amazing experience seeing a company grow from 1,000 employees to over 40,000 and truly become a household name. I made lifelong friends who worked hard to help a great company achieve a bold mission. It helped that Google was and still is a dog-friendly company, so it afforded me the opportunity to get my pup, Zeus, who came to work with me nearly every day.
R: Can you elaborate on your time in India?
S: Living in India was a life changing experience. The leadership opportunity to grow and inspire a team of over 1,000 people was tremendous. The cultural experience of learning to work, manage, and live in a completely new environment helped me develop a deeper appreciation and respect for differences. It definitely helped that I absolutely love Indian food and my favorite meals were home cooked.
R: What brought you to TaskRabbit?
S: TaskRabbit’s vision is to revolutionize everyday work. This vision resonated on many levels with me, but more personally because of my upbringing. I grew up in the city of Detroit where there are a lot of good, hardworking people, who often times, couldn’t find jobs. I was excited to join a company that is creating everyday work for everyday people and truly providing them with a social security net that didn’t exist a few years back.
R: Give us a rundown of your daily routine as CEO.
S: In one word: busy! I do have a lot of meetings, but I try to build in thinking time too. My meetings can range from 1:1s with my direct reports to a potential partnership discussion. I also make time to have breakfast or lunch with peers so that we can learn from each other. I’ll occasionally pop into a Learnch, a lunch and learn session where anyone in the company can talk about anything they want. The last one I attended was on software licenses and how they work.
R: Where would you like to see the tech industry headed in the following years.
S: I hope to see more progress in achieving greater diversity in the tech industry. Melinda Gates shared a statistic that just 17% of graduates with degrees in computer science are women, which is down from 37% when she graduated. The level of innovation that we can achieve in building great products and services can only be realized when we have diverse representation among the people who are creating and building them.
R: What is the most interesting company you have encountered since moving to Silicon Valley?
S: Call me biased, but I’d have to say TaskRabbit. It’s the one place I go to get my chores done so that I can focus on making our company successful and spending as much time as I can with my family. I don’t know how other people survive without it.
R: What do you think is the biggest challenge women face in tech?
S: The challenge that we all face is keeping up with the pace of change while staying focused on what matters most. This means staying on top of macro trends that could affect our business. This also means making sure that my priorities are clear so that I can spend quality time with my husband and two daughters.
R: Do you have any advice for millennial girls?
S: At times the path to success may seem insurmountable. I am reminded that there are those who came before and made it easier. We are the generation that they have been waiting for. I was taught to never be a victim of my circumstances but, instead, to be an agent of change. The playing field is more level than you think, so don’t let your circumstances hold you back from becoming the person you were meant to be.
R: What is your favorite task that you have “outsourced”?
S: I have a Tasker who helps me plan my daughters’ birthday parties. She’s really creative and very good at working within a budget. She also handles the details of execution on the day of the event so I can just enjoy being there. Birthdays were a big deal when I was growing up and I feel lucky to be able to make them special for my children.
Contributor: Ricky Rajani