Nicola Mendelsohn: Why I took the Job?

12 Oct 2015

Nicola Mendelsohn: Why I took the Job?

Vice-President EMEA for Facebook tells us why she took on her role in Facebook

Nicola Mendelson

So why did you take the job?

Facebook connects 1.5 billion people from all over the world in one amazing global conversation. To be part of something that has become an intrinsic part of our lives in a relatively short space of time is very special. But what always really excited me about Facebook was how it is relentlessly innovating to keep up with the incredible pace of change around us. People are at the heart of everything we do and as they continue to evolve, so will we.

You have been in post for two years now, what was the first major issue or problem you encountered and how did you deal with it? 

I wouldn’t say there have been major issues, rather new challenges to face and overcome. What these two years at Facebook have shown me is that trying, failing and learning is a process you need to go through. It makes you better, more motivated and more willing to shake things up.

How has your own role evolved since you arrived?

My role is constantly evolving. Whether it’s creating new advertising products for small business owners or expanding our physical footprint – we recently launched Facebook’s new office in South Africa – Facebook is not a place to stand still. When I first joined the company, Facebook had only just acquired Instagram, we hadn’t yet bought WhatsApp or Oculus and the separate Messenger app didn’t exist.

In just two short years we have created a family of apps and services that work both together and independently to connect more people all over the world. That pace of change is incredible and, with Facebook still only one per cent done with achieving its mission, I can’t wait to see what the future years will bring.You are charged with growing Facebook’s advertising revenue. How in a disruptive and rapidly evolving marketplace are you tackling that challenge?

How in a disruptive and rapidly evolving marketplace are you tackling that challenge?

Mobile has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives. It gives us the freedom to do the things we as humans have always done – connect, share, discover – but in new and exciting ways. Today people have an infinite supply of content and total control of where to spend their time and attention. This has profound implications for businesses and advertisers, who have to really push the boundaries of creative content to capture the interest of their audiences and at scale.

We believe that the content shared by advertisers should be every bit as engaging as that shared by your friends and family. And today that means video. We are continually optimising the platform to provide a creative canvas that enables brands to deliver much richer storytelling through video, combining sight, sound and motion, which – in turn – provides a bigger opportunity for brand building, emotional resonance and loyalty.What type of ‘talent’ do you look for to join your ranks at Facebook?

What type of ‘talent’ do you look for to join your ranks at Facebook?

Facebook is an open, progressive culture that champions talent. We encourage people to be inquisitive and restless, and aim to create an environment that empowers and inspires our colleagues to be the best they can be. Sometimes that might mean trying and failing, but failure isn’t frowned upon at Facebook – learning is a far better outcome. Mark [Zuckerberg] believes strongly in surrounding himself with passionate, exciting and inspirational people, hiring those people who he himself would want to work for – which I personally think is a brilliant mantra.How would you describe your management style?

How would you describe your management style?

When I was at school, teachers told my parents that my questioning and inquisitive nature would be a barrier to having a successful career. In response, my father explained that this was precisely what would take me far in life. That voice in my head has always pushed me to ask questions and think creatively; this is the attitude I try to encourage at Facebook. Disrupt, speak out and don’t be scared to disagree with people. As long as you do it in the right way, discussion can only make us think harder and deliver better and more original results.

I’m also a big believer in collaboration. I’m not really an advocate for hierarchy; rather I think we do the best work when we come together, learning from each other and challenging ideas. Now that I’m at Facebook, I’m lucky to work with some of the most impressive and inspirational people around, and I take every opportunity to learn as much as I can from them, as well as trying to share from my experiences.