Meet the Deputy Head of International Ops at Meero, Magali Ferare
Three years ago Meero was a small startup with big aspirations to empower creatives around the world. Now, Meero has been described as the largest photography company in the world. We try and better the lives of photographers in more than 100 countries by providing them with guidance, educational material, a platform to communicate with each other and connecting them with top global brands. We are giving creatives the necessary tools and providing them with time-saving technology to ease their lives and let them focus more on what they love. You might wonder who is behind all this? Well, here’s your chance to meet the team and get to know the people that are committed to improving the world of photographers. Meet Magali:
Hi Magali, thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us what you do here at Meero?
I am the deputy head of International Operations, which is a very fancy way of saying that I help head the team of internal project managers who ensure delivery on all of our biggest client shoots and develop tools and processes to make Meero run faster and smoother at a global level. I also work closely with our colleagues in all of our offices around the globe to ensure that we are all learning from each other and that we’re all on the same page.
We mobilize all of the delivery teams when new clients sign: Customer Service, Partners (who source the photographers), Producers on guideline creation and photographer briefs, etc.; then we monitor all of the project KPIs and make sure we hit all of our SLAs for all of our clients. We also work closely with CSM and Sales, to validate and propose new offerings and help figure out upsell ideas. We have our hands in a lot of the Meero magic in Ops.
Seems like you work with everyone!
Part of our role is that of project managers, which means that we have to make sure that things are moving, and anticipate problems. We’re supposed to have our finger on the pulse of client needs and delivery processes so that if a client needs to open a new market or change their product requirements, we can figure out the time to open that market or a rollout plan for a new product lightning fast.
What were you doing before Meero?
I worked as a marketing and/or project manager at Stanford University for six years, across a variety of projects and programs. I worked on the Stanford Wine Program (which, I gotta say… working in the wine industry was an absolutely incredible first job), and on Stanford+Connects, an international roadshow where we took the president and dozens of faculty on the road to show alumni what's going on in the world of Stanford. I felt very connected to the university and the work they were doing, but eventually, I wanted something a bit faster-paced than a nonprofit organization (even a world-famous one).
When Stanford+Connects ended I wanted to move back to Paris (I am Franco-American and have bounced back and forth frequently over the course of my adult life), so I found a job doing expansion operations for an American start-up where I was responsible for building out and opening new satellite offices in countries all over Europe. Lots of budgeting, design, change management, headcount and seat planning... and some “office and happiness” as well, but since I had 5 offices under my care, I didn't do as good of a job as Ombline does.
That role involved travel nearly 4 days a week, so when I left I decided to travel around for myself a bit. I went to New Zealand for two weeks (specifically, I did a Lord of the Rings tour complete with props & costumes at every photo op--my inner 14-year-old was over the moon), Australia to visit some friends, Prague, the Côte d’Azur, and then back to Paris to settle down. That’s when I met Meero.
So you’ve been at Meero over two years now, how do you feel about Meero since you have been here?
The first year it was absolutely remarkable to see how the company was able to grow and change in a year. I came from a non-profit background and late-stage start-ups, so joining Meero in 2018 was a fun challenge for me. That being said, I definitely do better when there are rules and processes and policies in place (I’m in Operations for a reason!) and so it has also been a privilege to help build those here.
In my second year, I got to step away from specific projects in favor of managing a team and portfolio, driving impact on a larger scale, and also seeing how some of the things I put in place on my projects when scaled, created value for the company globally.
It’s really, really rewarding to plant the seed of something and work to nurture it and over time you see it come to full, beautiful fruition.
Time flies when you are having fun?
Yes and no..! The thing I love about Meero is that Meero years are like dog years.
A year or a month year at Meero seems like 7 anywhere else in terms of how much responsibility you can take on, how many things you can somehow manage to complete in that timeframe, how many changes and pivots happen. You find yourself going, “Oh, that was 3 months ago… that’s ancient history!”
It's crazy and I love it.
What has been your greatest challenge to date at Meero?
Honestly, at this point, there have been so many (in a good way)! Right after arriving, I had to grow a client project from 200 to 2000 weekly shoots in just a month, which meant that I showed up on a Wednesday and by the next Monday I was in client meetings, shadowing with every single person on every team I could find, and becoming an expert on the industry and the client.
A year ago we developed a brand-new ticketing tool and I got to manage the rollout internally, which was a longer-term but also a larger-scale version of the same thing -- becoming an expert overnight, and trying to serve everyone’s needs as fast and efficiently as possible. (Only this time my client was internal.)
COVID-19 has, however, probably been the biggest challenge we at Meero have faced since being founded, and for me personally, as a manager and leader, it’s been really important to ensure that our teams are able to take care of their physical and mental health.
So I spent a lot of time and energy in Q1 and Q2 on developing best practices and making sure everyone was trained on our collaborative tools to facilitate working in relative isolation (after living in the hive of activity that is Meero HQ), being clear about expectations and transparent about changes, and encouraging my team to ask for help and to set healthy boundaries between personal and work life.
I’ve also worked to share those with the larger team, and as a result, despite all the uncertainty and everything that’s happened in 2020, team morale has been great and I am really proud and honored to work with a group of absolute rock stars. My colleagues make me better, and my team makes me a better manager.
What is it like working in Operations?
The key to Ops, and the reason I like my job, is that I work really hard so that eventually I don’t have to work at all. I call it ‘doing the most to do the least’. If I bust my ass for three months and set a client, process, or project up flawlessly, and know the subject matter well enough to see problems coming and plan for them, then things just work, and all I really have to do is go back and check my early warning indicators to make sure everything is running smoothly and within parameters. Then I can just chill.
...I mean, I haven’t yet chilled, I don’t think I am constitutionally capable of chilling, but I don’t spend nearly as much of my day-to-day on the same kinds of projects as when I started anymore, or on building scalable processes, because we’ve now done that and learned (and taught one another) how to do it well.
Instead, there's a portfolio of projects that my team works on, and I am more focused on how we can make new tools and processes that can make Meeronauts more effective. For instance, if the production team can handle twice as many shoots without overloading themselves when the crazy spikes come (hey, we’re still a start-up!), no one is sleeping in the office. I don’t want anyone to burn out on my watch.
What do you like about Meero?
What I like about Meero is that if you are the kind of person who takes responsibility seriously, there’s no shortage of it. There's always something that needs doing and someone needs to do it. I have learned more and grown more in two years here from just saying, “Well... I guess it’ll have to be me” than pretty much any other job I’ve had. Now I don’t have to go hunting for problems anymore, people bring them to me.
Can you explain what you do at Meero in three words?
Air traffic control.
What do you usually have on your desk?
I have a fox mug which was a birthday gift from my team, I have a second mug that has a picture of the Ops team dressed up for Carnevale, and inside that mug I have a fork (because there’s never enough in the kitchen). I also have a flash drive that’s called BOps (because he’s shaped like a bear, so he’s a Bear Ops). BOps lives with me at my desk.
Do you have any fun facts, or something people might be surprised to find out?
Something literally no one at Meero will be surprised to find out about me is that I love (LOVE) writing business emails. A fun lesser-known fact about me is that I also love (LOVE) karaoke and that my repertoire includes a surprisingly large number of the '90s-'00s Japanese pop songs.