For those of you who aren’t familiar with Nicola Mendelsohn, you should be.
She’s Facebook’s Vice President for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and has been described as ‘the most powerful woman in British tech’. Mendelsohn regularly features in Campaign magazine’s Power 100 list of top UK marketers and advocates for diversity, sustainability, and getting more women into business, too.
Aside from the impressive job title, Mendelsohn is also a lady – she has a CBE for services to the creative industries – and serves on the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Council and The Mayor of London’s Business Advisory Board.
In 2019 she also founded the Follicular Lymphoma Foundation, a charity dedicated to helping people with follicular lymphoma after she herself was diagnosed with the cancer in 2018. Now she has a podcast too. She’s hosting Now, Then, Ten, with Brent Hoberman, co-founder and executive chairman of Founders Forum, where they explore the current landscape of the communities they have built with guests such as Maria Raga, the CEO of Depop, and Richard Curtis CBE.
So, it’s fair to say she’s well positioned to give out career advice. Without further ado, keep reading for her top seven tips. The takeaways are invaluable.
7 career tips from Facebook’s Vice President, Nicola Mendelsohn
1. Understand your core strengths and skills
“It’s fair to say that you’re allowed to change [your job],” says Mendelsohn.
“I’ve had four jobs in my career over 30 years. The stats now say that most people today will have over 14 or 15. It’s fine to move around, and to look at different roles. Understand what your core strengths are and realise that they may be applicable in other industries and in other roles,” she shares.
“Right now we’re hiring at Facebook. What am I looking for? You don’t have to have tech training. Facebook is looking for people who are adaptable, open to trying new things, creative, good communicators. We hire from all sectors.’
2. Always ask for what you want
“I once had a conversation with my bosses to asking if they’d let me work a four-day week,” she explains. “I just didn’t think I was doing a good job at anything – I didn’t feel good at any of those areas of my life.”
“Amazingly, they said yes, because no one had ever done that at the company before. That was a real moment for me. I was able to take control of my life and create the life that I want,” she adds.
3. Make your workday work for you
“I’m incredibly busy and I have lots of meetings but, again, this has been an evolvement because of COVID,” Mendelsohn explains.
“I’ve realised I needed to put in more time and breaks so that I can maintain the level of performance that I’m used to, and again, I saw that pretty early on,” she goes on. “Now, I start my day later, I put in an hour at lunch, I’ve made my meetings shorter, and I’m doing more walking meetings on phone calls so I can get the steps up and be active. I’m wearing my Fitbit and combining all different things together to protect my wellbeing, but also to make sure that I’m as efficient as I can be from a work perspective, also.”
4. Stay curious
“I think it makes you more interesting,” the VP shares. “Pull things from a wide variety of areas because they’ll change the way that you think and that’s a good thing.”
5. Don’t be afraid to bring your whole self to work
“I think it’s very important that you start with yourself. You have to be comfortable to be authentic, to be who you are. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable,” she recommends.
“I’ve shared some very personal things, especially around my health, with the company. Here’s the thing: it doesn’t make you weak. I think we were taught in the past that if you do those sorts of things in work, it makes you weak. It doesn’t. If everybody knows what’s in your head, everybody’s there to support you and to be there for you,” she shares.
“But more than that, it allows everybody to be able to share. Colleagues know what’s going on and can support their work colleagues. It makes people closer as a result. I think that’s a very important area.”
6. Be brave.
“The times I’ve grown the most have been the times where I’ve felt the most nervous – the times that I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do it,” Mendelsohn explains.
“There’s a wonderful quote by Eleanor Roosevelt which says: ‘Do the things you think you cannot do.’ That is so true, and I really hold that one dearly.”
7. And, finally: have fun
“You spend a huge amount of time in work, so you should be working at a company where you enjoy the time you have there,” she says.
“I have a sign on the wall in my office that says, ‘meetings were made for laughter.‘ There’s an old-fashioned view that work has to be very serious, but work is about people and people coming together.”