Maria Perez is the co-founder and Product Manager of Glassful. She earned her BFA at London College of Communication, UK. Her experience has included corporate Web Development Manager positions with several successful internet ventures. During the past 13 years she has cultivated a deep knowledge of Product Analysis, Web Design, Wireframe, UI/UX. As a natural team leader Maria has specialized in working with start-up clients as a Digital Product Manager, helping them to transform ideas into reality. Her experience includes working with Privalia.com, Atrapalo.com, Visitlondon.com, The O2, and New York City Agency.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I grew up with the idea that you can get what you want in life if you work hard enough for it. My mum was really young when she had me and she never set any barriers for being young or being a girl. So I was really lucky to be raised to be fearless because I had nothing to lose.
I am always open to trying new things and that brought me to travel and live in a few different places. I consider myself a curious, fearless leader and a really hard worker.
How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Glassful?
Before Glassful I was an External Consultant for a start up for the last 3 years. I helped a few companies to make their ideas happen and transform them into real online products. This experience gave me the opportunity to not only develop my skills as a product manager but also to understand different markets, targets, companies, and cultures.
It's very interesting to work as a freelancer or contracter for a while, so when you build something that's yours you have a lot of research done. And you have a lot of examples you can compare yourself with in any situation. Also I really came to understand the adage that, if they can do it i can do it.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Glassful?
Oh! The the worst part of being a founder is to deal with yourself. You are the best and the worst motivator / friend / fan / supporter / critic of all. It's a daily rollercoaster. To keep your head up, stay motivated and believe in yourself and in your idea is the most difficult part. I try to clear my head every morning in the shower.
The highlight is definitely the people you surround yourself with. If I think about all the people that have helped us in one or other way, it is overwhelming. Also the customers are the ones that keep you motivated, when you can not motivate yourself.
Learning, sharing, and building things with others is an amazing feeling all humans should experience at least once.
What advice can you offer to women who want to start their own business?
Be ready to work hard, be faithful to yourself and to your idea. Don't be scared, the worst that can happen is that you end up in the same place you would be if hadn't started your own business.
PS: I would give the same advice to women and to men.
What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Be patient, be ready. Learn from your mistakes. Whatever happens, keep a smile on.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
My life is mainly balanced to work this days. When you truly love what you do and you do it with great people that feels like family, then that's life, anyway, right?
I also tend to have at least one Friday off every few weeks, to compensate for the extra hours, and clear my head.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I think that having people who don't believe in you or who you don't believe in either.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Mentorship is a very interesting concept. We tend to think that talented people can be great mentors, but actually I think it's all about learning from yourself. The best mentor to me is always the person that not only shares their knowledge with you, but also opens a new door, or wakes up some part of myself that was sleepy.
They are inspirational sources. I like when people help me how to think not what to think.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I've never been a fan of admiring other aspirational leaders - I never had a poster on my wall as a teenager. My belief is that we are all heroes. I admire the women that raise their kids with love and who care about karma. I admire the women that are mothers but are also individuals. I admire women that are successful in their careers because they love what they do. And women that give their lives to others.
What do you want Glassful to accomplish in the next year?
The next year is going to be all about expansion and growth. Our company is like a seed. We have the seed in place and it has started growing. I just want Glassful to grow. So we have to spread the brand and the benefit of the service. Expansion to other states, acquisition, and providing great customer service are our main objectives for 2015. Also a mobile app and a referral program.