The current era comprises continuous evolution basically in every sector, be it technology, the volatility of the market or talent development, all have tasted a glimpse of this evolution. This affects the role of a leader, man or woman, which must be able not only to adapt but also to ride the positive trends. She must have a strong vision, to set the direction and anticipate and navigate challenges- which also means being able to ‘Think out of the box’, adapt and change to keep the business successful. She must not be afraid of taking (calculated) risks in order to anticipate trends and steer the company also in turbulent waters. Last, but not least, she must be able to build an organization that is also agile. This requires developing people that think and not only do “jobs”, employees that are entrepreneurs, fostering a culture of experimentation.
Marina Tognetti is a successful tech entrepreneur, Founder of mYngle.com, but the passion for entrepreneurship came later in her career. She started building a successful career by large multinationals, Procter & Gamble, Philips, Sara Lee, The Boston Consulting Group and eBay; living and working in different countries and got an MBA from INSEAD.
It was when working as a consultant on a project on internet strategy that she ﬁrst saw the potential of the internet to disrupt entire industries and change forever the way we buy/sell/interact. She had to be part of that! That was the driver to start an innovative company as mYngle.
mYngle team nurtures an obsession for customer satisfaction, and this is also one of its key strengths. It looks continuously to improve the services it offers. It does so by constantly listening to users’ feedback and improving accordingly, as well as leveraging new technologies at its advantage. This is also reﬂected in the internal evaluation of systems and how mYngle assesses its job. mYngle constantly monitor its users’ reactions and tries to adjust accordingly, using adapted versions of NPS (Net Promoter Score), which deﬁnes that only excellence counts. mYngle’s average lessons’ scores are 4.9/5.0. Results speak for themselves!
Marina strongly believes that the key to success is not constantly comparing with competition but aligning with what customers want. This is particularly important when you are in an industry that, like that of online education is in a transition or evolution phase, where the main challenge is not competition but the unawareness or inexperience of customers. Education was (and in large part still is) operating in the old traditional way, offering learners what is available, not what they need. But “One size does not ﬁt all.” By understanding the customers and diversifying their offerings in terms of teacher- content- frequency, mYngle can match each speciﬁc need.
The biggest challenge was when Marina and her team members had to ‘pivot’ from the initial business model to a completely different one, which is the mYngle they all are now. Marina and her team members had launched mYngle as a marketplace, something she knew very well from her previous eBay experience. Marina thought her team has got it all: funding, lots of Awards and PR, a very motivated team. But something in the business model was not functioning as her team expected. The team listened to its customers and they gave the new direction, from an open marketplace to a quality global online school, from B2C to B2B. That was the key to the success of mYngle. It now has prestigious business clients and learners all over the world, with tens of thousands of lessons given each month and 95% of learners that rate mYngle as excellent.
The tech world is particularly male dominated: only 5% of tech start-ups are owned by women. That is why she aims to be a role model for other women in tech, but an accessible one, trying to give a genuine picture of what it takes to be an entrepreneur, the ups and downs that we all have but few want to share. A strong leader is not the one without faults, as we all have faults, but that which is so self-conﬁdent to be able to show her vulnerabilities without being scared that it would impact her strength.
Marina regularly presents at international conferences on the topics of female leadership and entrepreneurship, and won numerous awards for her role of woman in technology such as 50 most inspiring women tech leaders in Europe, 50 most inspiring women in The Dutch technology sector, Iconic Women Creating a Better World for All and many others.
Technology should be seen as an opportunity, as it opens directions that only a few decades ago seemed unattainable. It allows new businesses that can disrupt entire industries. Marina is a businessperson, so she does not need to be an expert in its implementation, but she must understand its implication for business: how it impacts a company, the customers, the value chain. Data Analysis and Machine Learning are making great improvements. Algorithms are getting better, products are becoming more accessible, knowledge about best practices are being shared and collaborated at a very fast pace. Data analysis and machine learning help triage new products better, understand clients and try to anticipate possible issues, it also helps to forecasting, funnel analysis, staff coaching, and the list goes on and on.
It is in Marina’s nature to want to constantly improve, and it is in the nature of an entrepreneur to always seek new opportunities or areas of development. The future in leading mYngle will surely hold new challenges, as mYngle team keeps on innovating and being ahead of the market. For Marina personally, it will also be time for the idealistic voice inside to speak, the voice that believes in giving something back for a better world. Marina walked this path and learned a lot. That brought her in a privileged position, where she can act and implement new ideas that can make a difference. She can now use her skills to make the world just a little bit better.