Microsoft Alumni Network: Stephanie Nadi Olson is determined to change the expectation of a typical workday
Stephanie Nadi Olson founded We Are Rosie with a vision of changing “the future of work” so that success isn’t confined to a nine-to-five workday.
Founded in 2018, We Are Rosie is a community of nearly 7,000 independent advertisers and marketers referred to as “Rosies” who use their expertise to transform marketing teams.
We Are Rosie works with clients to assess their project-based needs. The company then assigns a Rosie consultant within a matter of days. Project hours range and can include a variety of tasks within the marketing and advertising realm.
“We Are Rosie kind of sits at the intersection of all of these themes,” said Stephanie, “the need for diverse talent and inclusion in the marketing and advertising category, the desire for project-based work and really agile, fluid shape-shifting teams in the industry.”
The company’s innovative ways are gaining accolades for We Are Rosie and Stephanie, including AdAge Visionary of the Year 2020, Creative 100 in AdWeek 2020 and World Changing Woman 2020 by Stevie Awards.
Bootstrapping her business with no venture capital funding, Stephanie wanted the company to stay true to her personal values which include treating everyone with dignity and respect and putting human-centered needs first.
Flexibility for the We Are Rosie team and its clients is the driving force behind the company.
While building her own career in the marketing industry, Stephanie noticed how hard it could be for people who were different to succeed and gain opportunity.
As the daughter of a refugee and a first-generation college student and English speaker, Stephanie has always been an advocate for the inclusion of marginalized groups and appreciates the “magic of different types of people coming together.”
Stephanie is honored that her team is involved with some of the largest brands in the world while showcasing a team that is diverse in all aspects including age, sexual orientation, race, gender, caregiving status and disability status.
“It is such a gift to be doing this work and truly helping liberate talent to work in a way that just makes sense for their lives,” Stephanie said.
Before Stephanie started We Are Rosie, she was struggling to balance her own work-home life as the breadwinner of her family and mother of two. Exhausted and frustrated, she quit her job in corporate marketing.
Stephanie noted the move was “completely out of character,” but she spent the following months connecting with anyone she could in the industry, searching for something new.
She discovered brilliant marketing experts who struggled to find work simply because their lives did not line up with a standard work schedule. The accommodations of office life did not fit their needs whether it be due to medical condition, caregiving status or merely preference.
Stephanie felt that the people who didn’t fit that standard were either marginalized or made uncomfortable.
“I decided to gather them all up. I was like, oh my goodness, there’s an untapped gold mine of talent here that major corporations are going to want access to if we can just make a turnkey for them,” said Stephanie of what sparked the idea for We Are Rosie.
The company’s namesake comes from Stephanie’s daughter, Margot Rose, as a reminder to push forward for change in the workplace so that her two daughters have robust opportunity when they enter the workforce.
The We Are Rosie team has a podcast and online platform dedicated to continuing the conversation around the future of the workplace. The company plans to influence the corporate world by expanding their clientele and building more enterprise partnerships with big brands.
“I really think that the more companies that adopt this (flexible work) and normalize it and adjust their operations to create a space where flex talent can thrive within their organization, the happier our workforce is going to be and the better the work is going to be,” Stephanie said.
The company’s client list consists of 30 Fortune 500 brands, including its newest client: Microsoft.
The partnership brings things full circle for Stephanie, who was the first person hired on to Microsoft’s then new college hire program in 2006 upon her graduation from Georgia Tech. Traditionally the department had not hired recent graduates to the advertising team and Stephanie loved the opportunities she had as an account manager.
“It was an incredible experience for me in retrospect, because I joined one of the biggest global corporations at a time where they were re-imagining work and reconsidering how work happened within their walls,” said Stephanie, “and that certainly began the arc of what eventually ended in launching We Are Rosie which is a full manifestation of my drive to reconsider the way work happens.”
Rosies are paid weekly when on a project and receive full benefits. Each person’s schedule is tailored to their own needs with flexible hours and even mandatory paid time off each quarter.
Although headquartered in Stephanie’s hometown of Atlanta, the company has always been remote, only sending Rosies to in-person projects when possible and necessary.
“I wholeheartedly believe that remote work is a form of inclusion, and that it’s very difficult to say that you want or need a world class team, but that they all have to live in one geo location,” said Stephanie, whose network of Rosies represents all 50 states, the UK and Canada.
With most people working from home over the past year, many companies have since adopted We Are Rosie services and recognized the value of flexible work. The company doubled in size in 2020 and is on track to triple in this year.
“We’re on this really rapid growth trajectory as the rest of the world begins to reconsider a lot of the assumptions and misconceptions they had about how work has to happen,” Stephanie said.
Stephanie hopes for We Are Rosie to go global one day and continue to shift the trajectory of the work force.
“My objective is for every marketing organization in the world to have a line item for flex talent,” said Stephanie, “and to recognize how they can leapfrog their diversity and inclusion efforts, and their efforts around becoming more agile and flexible organizations through tapping into this talent.”