Next in our blog series highlighting women in the Intuit Developer community, I recently had the privilege of speaking with Melissa Mullett, Channel and Partner Marketing lead for Veem.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m currently the Channel and Partner Marketing lead at Veem, a global payments system for small businesses and accountants, here in Ottawa. A native Canadian, I grew up not too far from here in Toronto. I came to Ottawa for university and stayed. I love it here, though I miss my family who are all back in Toronto, so I try to visit as much as I can. My degree is in cellular biology, so I have a STEM background. I’m a science geek and I read Neuroscience Today for fun. I play a lot of sports, and also play drums, guitar, and piano. I’m active in the music scene here in Ottawa. I just recently had my birthday and turned 29!
How/why did you choose this field?
In my first job out of university, I worked with my best friend in a startup that went to Y Combinator. I ended up meeting a lot of professionals who were in the Marketing area, and they guided me. They showed me how I could use my skill set and everything I learned academically and apply it to business. And they found a really good fit for me that made me happy professionally. I am still a science geek at heart, but when I was a student running experiments in the lab or analyzing statistics, I was always working alone, and I wasn’t very happy about that part. At the end of the day, being happy in your career doesn’t have to be the same as being happy in your academics. It’s two different worlds.
What do you love about your work?
It’s dynamic and fun! We’re very fast-paced. If I hadn’t had that experience working really aggressively in the startup, I might not have realized how much more I like this kind of work than I would ever like a career in science. I’m always learning and challenged, but in a different way. I’ve been given many opportunities to rise to the occasion. It’s an intense, dynamic, fast-paced working environment and I feel like I’m learning so much in a short period of time – it’s nice.
We have really strong leadership here at Veem. I especially want to call out Sheila James, our VP of Operations. I look up to her so much. She is that person who walks into a room and just gets things done. I’ve been able to grow quickly with the company, and I’ve moved from being the only marketer/sales rep, to being part of a growing marketing team, to moving up to partnerships and working with Intuit directly. The ladder and support here have been amazing.
What do you love about your life?
I have an incredible community of friends here in Ottawa. Ottawa is a big city with a small-town feel, and there’s so much going on all the time. I mentioned earlier that I’m still a science geek at heart, so in my free time I read a lot of science-based journalism and sometimes volunteer with local science communities. I’m also active in the local music community. For instance, I volunteer and do back-stage work for BluesFest (the first two weeks of July here in Ottawa). I go to live music every weekend. And I play a lot of sports with my friends. I love my lifestyle here.
Have you faced challenges in your career because you are a woman? How did you overcome them?
I am very used to working in male-dominated areas – at university, almost all my professors and my lab partners were male, and at my first startup I was the only female with five guys. It was kind of a bro’s club.
I think when I started out in business, I let myself be “small”. And I hadn’t realized that throughout university I did that too. I assumed that because I was young, I should hold back — that if I spoke out, I’d be viewed as aggressive or bossy. Sometimes when I’d raise my voice to express my point of view in a strong way, guys would tell me I was being emotional. But if a man raises his voice, he’s just viewed as being strong and firm. It’s a double standard.
The way I deal with it is to rely on the facts and the data. I try to get a constructive conversation going by showing them the data and how I came to my opinion. I’ll say, “my decision is based off this because of xyz”, not because my gut’s telling me it’s the right thing – (which you know sometimes it is). When they see you did the research, you know your stuff, you can back up your claim, they’ll respect your point of view. I notice a lot of times that works well.
Here at Veem, people like Sheila encourage me to speak up, express my opinion, share my voice. Veem is very supportive of women in the workplace. And when you build relationships with people, they come to trust your judgment. I have some awesome coworkers; and we go to coffee, we play sports. We’ve gotten to know and trust one another.
This year’s theme for IWD is #BalanceforBetter. How would the business world improve if there were more balance between genders?
Most of our teams at Veem are pretty evenly balanced male/female. This is a real strength of Veem. Having a diverse team obviously results in diverse points of view, which just makes the culture stronger, our discussions richer, and our decisions better. We have some really strong female figures at Veem, for which I couldn’t be more grateful.
What advice do you have for women entering this field?
For a woman in tech? At the end of the day, if you are making yourself happy in your work, you’re doing great. But you also need to make yourself seen and heard. Sometimes we think if we work hard and produce great results people will automatically notice and acknowledge and reward us. But that isn’t automatic. You have to work to bring your voice, claim your accomplishments, and expect/demand the reward. So, believe in yourself and work hard. But at the end of the day, if people can’t see that you’re doing that work, what good is it? Don’t be “small”. Be confident and speak up.