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From working at Google to shaping the future of GoStudent - In this personal interview, find out about Laura Warnier’s career journey and what her experience in Sales, Marketing and Business Development has taught her.
With driven and career-oriented parents - a father who is an entrepreneur and a mother who is a headteacher - it seems like fate that Laura landed at GoStudent, a rapidly expanding ed-tech scaleup.
Founded in 2016, Laura joined the company in 2018, as its second full-time employee, in the position of Head of Sales and Marketing. Laura has been integral in helping GoStudent pursue its goal of becoming the no. 1 global school. She has helped the company expand to over 22 countries, employing + 1000 talents across 18 offices. (*numbers 11/2021)
What and where did you study?
I was born and raised in Belgium and studied there for the most part. However, after choosing to spend an Erasmus year studying in the UK and experiencing the cultural benefits of learning abroad, I decided to pursue a double Masters degree in International Management (CEMS), which enabled me to study in Barcelona and Copenhagen, and complete an internship in Berlin.
How did you land your first job at Google after graduation?
It’s honestly not something I seeked out. I was found through the connection to my Master’s degree and was reached out to. Let’s be real, when Google sends you an offer, you simply don’t say no! As such, I relocated to Dublin upon graduation and continued to fine tune my interests and strengths in sales, as an Agency Account Manager for France for three years.
What brought you from Dublin to Austria?
After Google, I set my sights on a new challenge and a new country: Austria.
As a non-native German speaker, it was difficult to find positions which I could apply for at first but that didn’t stop me! I landed a job in the Telecom industry before building the paid performance marketing business at an international advertising agency.
GoStudent hired you as the Head of Sales and Marketing in 2018, what did you get up to?
In the beginning I was heavily involved with the hiring process and getting a capable team together. Another focus of my role was to design and set up all the required marketing and sales processes which would allow us to grow. With these structures in place, I then turned my attention to international expansion, beginning with France. With French being my mother language and as the largest private education market in Europe, it made sense to start there.
Building on the learnings from GoStudent’s first expansion efforts, I created an international expansion playbook which has been a key element of GoStudent’s success story so far. Just this summer, GoStudent expanded outside of Europe, launching in Canada, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. Together with the company, my role grew as well.
As a Chief Growth Officer, I now oversee partnerships, marketing, international expansion and break down silos while boosting collaboration between business units in order to drive growth.
You are a passionate dancer and have practiced dance for years - are there any parallels between dancing and your work life?
Absolutely. Practicing anything at a high level requires passion, drive, discipline and a genuine enjoyment in what it is that you are doing. In both worlds I am driven not only because I love what I do, but also because I am always looking for ways to be better and do better! If things get difficult I won’t give up; instead, I will keep pushing, keep trying until I have mastered the skill, or the step. This resilience is what can make the difference on the stage and in the workplace. It is how you succeed.
Another parallel I can draw involves synchronicity. When you are performing on stage in a group, it’s important to communicate, coordinate and be a team-player. The same goes for the workplace. To ensure that a company is successful, you need to be confident that everyone is working together and that they share the same vision and mission. As a leader of a company, it is my job to set the rhythm that the team can fall in sync with.
Lastly, in dance, the little details make a huge difference. From the music choice, to how
your moves match the beat, you need to second guess how your audience will feel when these elements come together. . I’ve found that the same goes for Marketing. I’ve learnt that it is vital to understand your audience and what they perceive as important, so that you can really WOW them.
What factor has helped you progress your career?
I think you have an advantage when you are passionate about your job and when you are able to own who you are with confidence. In order to thrive, you need to recognise your strengths, see your weaknesses as opportunities to grow, and acknowledge that your individuality can bring something special to the team, that others can learn from or be inspired by. This is the basic idea behind one of GoStudent’s fundamentals: Be bold.
Even before GoStudent, education was always a topic close to your heart. Can you elaborate?
I’ve always believed that education is an enabler for the future and allows people to develop, find a passion and make a difference. However, I don’t just mean going to college. It’s really about general learning and constant personal development. My experience in the past has taught me that when I begin to feel bored at work, I am either no longer growing, or my focus is in the wrong place. That’s when I take a moment to step back, consider why I am feeling stuck, and assess what proactive changes I can make to continue further shaping my role.
Working in a startup can be stressful. What do you do to relax?
It certainly is a dynamic environment with a steep learning curve that often requires many skills, such as creativity and thinking on your feet, so I make sure to take breaks every so often to ensure that I am able to give my all. My favourite way to relax involves putting in my headphones, cranking up some good tunes and (surprise) having a good dance. I have a bunch of go-to songs depending on my mood but I will dance to anything with a good bass! Wimudo by Balduin, is for instance, on my good-mood playlist! You can also bet that I’ll be the last one standing on the dancefloor at any GoStudent party.
A piece of advice for a successful career?
Trust your gut and know that your instincts are usually right! Sometimes you may not be sure why your gut is telling you something, but the more you practice using it, the better you get. I’ve particularly relied on these skills when interviewing candidates.