Transitioning from SEO team leader to CEO in the space of five years, Hungryhouse’s Alice Mrongovius believes her diverse background and entrepreneurial spirit have helped drive her career.
After founding her own business, working with small startups and becoming a board member of art organisations, Mrongovius arrived at online food ordering platform Delivery Hero, owner of the UK’s Hungryhouse brand, as SEO team leader in 2011.
Her passion for combining creativity with analytics propelled her into the role of marketing director at Hungryhouse in 2014, before being promoted to CEO at the beginning of this year.
The Vision 100 2016 alumna shares her advice for career progression and explains why being resourceful gives her the edge.
What are the advantages of having a background in startups?
Startups have always been a good fit for my personality and skill set. It helps when you find an environment that you thrive in. Startups nurture an entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to create something out of nothing.
You have to learn so much faster as there is no blueprint for success, so if things go wrong you have to take responsibility, learn from the mistakes and move on. You need the ability to be analytical, creative with resources and find a solution when you’re under constraints.
How did you make the transition from SEO marketing to CEO?
Next month will be my five-year anniversary at the company. When I started, we had seven people and now we employ 2,500. The appeal of SEO is that it is product-focused but also has a tech aspect, which connects to the programming skills I learnt early in my career.
I made it to CEO by being very focused on what I needed to achieve in every role. You need to focus on the job you have, not where you want to be because by doing that jobs will open up.
“You need the ability to be analytical, creative with resources and find a solution when you’re under constraints.“
What are the defining moments of your career?
When I started working in startups again in 2011, everything clicked for me. Having had diverse career experiences in my 20s and then going back into the startup environment, I realised this was what I was meant to be doing.
What are your biggest challenges and how do you overcome them?
With rapid growth come problems of scaling. It’s about how quickly you can prove your own ambition to win market share and sustain momentum. The challenge is also to get the team to move in the same direction. There is a lot to get right every day, but if you focus on delivering a fantastic service and build an awesome team, you can be confident in your decisions.
What advice would you give to those following in your footsteps?
Have a solid foundation in a subject like analytics, computer science or psychology. Don’t be afraid of getting into analytics – it’s very important for a tech or startup-related career.
Find a company that’s a good fit for you. Sometimes junior employees feel they’re not visible, but you forget this when you achieve excellent results beyond your pay grade. Overachieve in the role you have and the next opportunity will present itself.
Meet the colleagues of the modern marketer: Head of Innovation
Although every marketing team is looking to drive innovation, the industry is experiencing a rise in innovation specialists – responsible for identifying improvements to existing products and developing new services.
Innovation is being built into budgets, according to Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2015/16, which finds 71% of marketers have an innovation budget, accounting for an average of 10% of their overall marketing spend. Of the senior marketers surveyed, 40% agree that responsibility for innovation in marketing has increased over the past year.
Often from a brand marketing background, the head of innovation needs to have a strong appreciation of trends and consumer insight, as well as an interest in the latest tech developments. Brands recruiting for innovation roles are actively looking for people who are creative and pragmatic, with strong commercial acumen.