Last fall, Stephanie Nadi Olson told Atlanta Inno she calls herself a corporate refugee. The mother of two spent years at Microsoft and AOL, honing important skills but working inflexible hours. Then she got the startup itch and saw a solution to the typical 9-5 grind.
She founded We Are Rosie in 2018 as an on-demand marketplace for marketing professionals, where clients get paired with teams or individuals to do specific projects. Those professionals — affectionately called “Rosies” — choose their own hours. She received an investment from Align Capital Partners in December 2021.
Clients see the startup as a way to fulfill their inclusion and diversity commitments, Olson told Atlanta Inno.
“I wanted to gather up all the corporate refugees, the moms, the caregivers … the people who have been discriminated against so they don’t want to go into the office … and I’m going to give you work that respects what you need in your personal life,” she said.
Atlanta Business Chronicle named Olson one of its 2022 Most Admired CEOs.
As you look back, when did you feel your sense of purpose begin to truly emerge, and how did that influence your career choices?
Things changed for me after the birth of my first daughter. I began to realize the importance of legacy, the legacy of my ancestors, all of whom were unable to go to college, many of whom have never even stepped foot in America, but all of whom demonstrated the value of perseverance. As I transformed into a mother, I began to ask what I wanted that legacy to look like for my kids. This train of thought led me to hop off the corporate ladder and jump into the startup world, where I could bet on myself and build a business that would make my ancestors and future generations proud.
What decision have you made as a leader that required the most courage, and what did you learn from the experience?
I think of courage as a muscle. I try to exercise it every day, and there is never any shortage of new things to do as a founder/CEO that scare me. As I reflect on the past four years, the most courageous and scary thing I’ve done is own up to the fact that I am not and will not be good at everything, and I need to hire and ask for help around my areas of weakness. If I am doing work that only I am uniquely suited to do as the leader of the company, that is what’s in the highest good of all the people we serve at We Are Rosie. Asking for help isn’t always easy, but handing things off to people that are lit up by the things that are really hard for me has been incredibly rewarding.
When you begin your work for the day, what is the one thing you almost always feel you must do first?
I start my day by seeing what came into my inbox overnight, reconciling those priorities (or non-priorities) with what was already on my list to accomplish and just start getting to work.
How are macro-economic forces affecting your business, field or industry, and what is one specific step you decided your company or organization will take as a result of this?
We’re fortunate to work in flex work, a workforce transformation that is constantly picking up steam. Regardless of what’s happening in the economy, the business case for a more flexible, agile, inclusive workforce cannot be denied. We haven’t changed what we do because our value prop has never been more relevant to both talent and marketing orgs, but we certainly have a renewed sense of focus and urgency to create a way of working that is dignified, accessible and inclusive by connecting our 16,000-plus freelance marketers to project-based career opportunities with the biggest marketing organizations in the world.