Annie Dean + Anna Auerbach Of Werk On Creating Flexible Work Opportunities

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About Annie and Anna:

At I Want Her Job we love a good startup story, and we like one that involves two friends destined to meet and create a business even more. One day in early 2016, Annie Dean called her friends – asking them to direct her to the smartest women they knew. As fate would have it, a few friends directed Annie to Anna Auerbach, a woman described by mutual friends as a “force of intelligence” and full of energy. Over a phone conversation, Anna shared her thoughts on a business that would help create a marketplace for women seeking flexible job opportunities. Annie was instantly hooked on the idea, and this first phone call ignited a passion and partnership between the two dynamic women.

The idea became Werk, a business dedicated to helping women thrive in the workforce and find flexible job opportunities. Since launching earlier this year, Werk has received funding, created a marketplace for flexible jobs with over 60 companies – including Facebook, Uber and Samsung – and has hired a staff of four and developed a new product.

Anna’s Harvard MBA and McKinsey background, combined with Anna’s experience in practicing law, they say, has given them a distinct advantage during their research, analysis and business planning phases for Werk. As self-professed data geeks, Annie and Anna knew that data was showing them a business opportunity for a site like Werk was there. And as ambitious young mothers to toddlers with demanding professional careers, Anna and Annie understand firsthand the challenges women face when they don’t want – or cannot take a break – from working. In fact, research shows more than 30% of women end up leaving the workforce after having children. And, of those that left, 70% say they would have stayed in their jobs if they had been given more flexibility. Furthermore, a Bain research study has shown that women value flexibility more than titles, location and pay. The data, as well as common sense, shows the supply is there, and from a business perspective, flexibility lowers costs and helps companies recruit and retain top talent.

We’re thrilled to share episode 33 of I Want Her Job: The Podcast with you. We hope the story of Annie and Annie inspire you to shift your own thoughts on the work/life culture.

Topics Discussed In Today’s Show:

  • Changing How We Talk About The ‘F’ Word: Today women are encouraged not to ask a potential employer questions about flexibility until the end of the interview process. Even when the topic comes up, making an inquiry or specific request may even cost you a job offer. Werk’s marketplace is changing the work culture in terms of how we can approach flexibility in a role, and even better, they are doing the asking for you! Job opportunities listed on Werk offer a complete description of the flexibility offered in each job opening.
  • Why Flexible Work Is Good For Business: Companies are beginning to understand the ROI on offering flexible job opportunities. In addition to increasing retention, when companies offer flexibility they are more likely also to get a diverse and talented pool of applicants. “Companies understand this is basically their time to get ahead of the curve and to offer services that will attract the best talent,” the ladies say.
  • Companies Are Signing Up: With more than 60 leading companies and startups on the Werk roster, businesses are seeing the value in offering and promoting flexibility at work. “Flexibility is absolutely the future of work,” they say.
  • On Early Influences: Anna’s parents immigrated from the former Soviet Union. The risk and courage it took to come to a new county has been a driving force in Anna’s desire to work hard and give back. “I could never settle for mediocre, because my family got a second chance on life here,” she says. “I want to make sure I pay it forward and create opportunities for others.” Meanwhile, Annie’s architect father and librarian mother nurtured a love in her for reading, history as well as a deep intellectual curiosity. “I have always been someone who has looked at the world from many, many different angles at one time and found it thrilling to find the connection points between those ideas,” Annie says.
  • A Success Mindset And Philosophy: “Resilience, 100% looking at challenges as opportunities,” is the mindset Annie says has led to her success. “Every time something bad happens to me, I look at it as the universe giving me a gift to train me in a challenge I haven’t fixed yet,” she says. The bottom line? Anna and Annie both look at challenges as a training ground.
  • Why An MBA Was Worth It: Anna decided to obtain an MBA as a ROI for her career, and she says she feels it was worth the seal of approval – allowing her to break through the clutter and prove her business skills and intelligence. Anna says, “For women, the bar is always higher.” A recent study from First Round Capital showed women founders outperform their baseline by 63%, and Annie was not surprised at all by this stat, saying, “Female founders outperform because they have to.”
  • Advice For Flexible Job Seekers: If you are searching for a flexible job, put it in business terms for your employer, they advise.
  • Why Worrying Can Actually Help: While Anna and Annie are so similar they call themselves twins, their partnership also works because they bring different strengths to the business. Having a co-CEO who worries about different things also is a huge competitive advantage and gives them a broader view of issues and opportunities.
  • Ruthless Prioritization: As moms, Anna and Annie have experience ruthlessly prioritizing their lives in 10-minute increments, and this skill blends seamlessly into how they also prioritize and manage their business.
  • The Future of Flexible Work: Anna and Annie are optimistic about the future of work. “This is happening, and if you are a company it’s a matter of if you want to be an early adopter, or if you want to be forced into it later,” they say.
  • Learn More And Connect: Follow Werk, Annie Dean and Anna Auerbach on Twitter.

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