MSLOC 15: Erica Labovitz: Making a Difference Through Marketing

MSLOC 15: Erica Labovitz: Making a Difference Through Marketing

Erica LabovitzShortly after Erica Labovitz (MSLOC10) received her master’s in learning and organizational change, she was hired as the first employee at Indiegogo, a start-up that helped reshape entrepreneurship through crowd funding. Last year, Labovitz took her start-up expertise to The Baby Box Co, which combats infant mortality rates through products, resources, and education for new parents.

As part of our ongoing MSLOC series celebrating 15 years of the program, we talk with Labovitz, chief marketing officer at The Baby Box, about finding her people, the biggest challenge facing entrepreneurs, and getting inspiration in the grocery aisle.

What attracted you to a start-up like The Baby Box?

I’ve always been interested in the psychology of business. When I joined The Baby Box Co, it was still getting its sea legs in terms of how they wanted to create a culture. I’m responsible for growing our business and acquiring new customers, but I also help identify roles and build teams. We all wear a lot of hats and have a profound influence in designing the culture and values of the organization.

When you started in MSLOC, you felt like you’d found your ‘people.’ Tell us more:

I’m all about getting the most out of your people and developing a strong culture, regardless of the type of organization. There’s a very unique type of individual who enrolls in MSLOC, and it’s invigorating for me to spend time around them. Being the norm at MSLOC --as opposed to the outlier -- was very refreshing.

Why did you opt to stay in marketing after MSLOC?

During the program, I realized how much more influence I could have if I stayed as a functional leader. My peers in human resources were often separated from how the business actually worked! Human resources and organizational development should be more central in the decision-making process, but they’re not.

What lessons have stayed with you from your time at Indiegogo?

Working with people from completely different backgrounds, levels of experience and opinions about the world taught me to be more comfortable with change and the unknown. I was the fourth person to get involved and I learned how to develop frameworks about decision-making and team structure. My MSLOC experience helped me develop people and form a strong culture. I think it worked!

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing entrepreneurs right now?

Facebook, Amazon, and Google. Between the three of them, there’s nothing that’s digitally based that they can’t do. The challenge for entrepreneurs is to think about what problem can they solve, or what can they create, that those three tech companies can’t.

You’re from the Midwest; what’s it like to be immersed in the West Coast culture?

It feels like living in the future. Self-driving cars are everywhere, and people ride tiny vehicles. My neighbor gets his groceries delivered every single day. There’s nothing you can’t outsource. There’s a lot of innovation, but with that comes an exorbitant amount of money for some and a disappearing middle class for many.

When you worked for Kraft, you found inspiration in unusual places.

I used to stand in the grocery store aisles and watch people buy the Kraft products I’d worked on, like Philadelphia cream cheese, Stove Top stuffing mix and Macaroni and Cheese. Seeing people happy with something I’d developed made me feel really good.

Speaking of food, MSLOC provided a special sauce that met your needs well. What were the ingredients?

The way the curriculum, staff, and students challenged people to think differently about solving problems was really special to me. I liked the mix of academic rigor and practical application. I was a full-time student, but I appreciated having my part-time peers share their actual experiences from work. I think that built empathy among the students.

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