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Antonia joins Poparide as our Director of Support

Interview conducted between Flo Devellennes, Poparide CEO & Co-founder and Antonia Issa, Poparide’s new Director of Support.

F: We go way back! Do you remember how and where we met?

A: Our common friend Anne-marie invited me to join you and your brother and some other people to listen to Dino DiNicolo, this sick bass player beatbox guy at a small, dark bar in Vancouver.

We were in the back corner and I remember thinking that Flo’s brother was really smart. So, I guess it runs in the family. I also remember that there appeared to be a positive correlation between more beer and better ideas. Or that’s what it felt like anyway. The table was abuzz with technology what-ifs, creative problem solving and forward thinking. I really enjoyed the energy as we talked above the loud and wonderful bass music.

Somehow, at the time, I knew that these were people who were going to do interesting things – and I wanted to be there to help when they did!


F: You’ve had an interesting last few years working for Slack, Moz, and then Airbnb. Could you talk a bit about what you learned working for those tech giants?

A: Firstly, if at first they don’t hire you, try again. I really wanted to work at Slack. I had no experience in tech and had just come out of an MBA with a hodgepodge of jobs in the financial industry, environmental industry and bartending. I applied to Slack once and got to the last round of interviews and didn’t get the job. I felt defeated. Two months later after some soul searching I realized that I still wanted to work at Slack, so I mustered up some courage and wrote to them explaining that I would still like the job. They invited me to meet a manager at the Vancouver office and I was hired on the spot. 

Secondly, it’s ok to fail, in fact – it’s encouraged. I have a lot of ideas all the time. Brainstorming is my happy place. When I would pitch an idea to my manager, she would say “ok, Antonia, give it a try”. “But what if it doesn’t work?” I’d ask. “Try something else”, she’d say matter of factly. The concept that I didn’t need to get it right the first time enabled me to take some calculated risks and not worry about the repercussions of getting something wrong. This, in turn allowed me to build confidence, and I am a more skilled and better person for it. This culture was prevalent at Slack, Moz and Airbnb and I believe in its effectiveness. 

Finally, excellent Customer Experience is essential to the success of a tech company. We’ve all had frustrating moments with customer support. Slack taught me that building a solid Customer Experience team, with smart, empathetic people – and empowering them to roll with a query from start to finish, creates a better experience for the end user. Building a cohesive support team where people feel valued, they can own their work and have the opportunity to grow, is essential for success. Build processes that are elastic and create a culture of trust and acceptance of change. Treat your support team like gold and the investment will come back ten-fold.


F: Ok, and now you’re in Mexico. Can you tell people how you got to Mexico from Vancouver?

A: After my last contract ended, I decided to put my money where my mouth was and act on a dream I’ve had for a while: ride my motorcycle south – with no plan. So on October 3, after, incidentally, a lot of planning, I got on my bike and started towards Seattle. I rode about 300-600 km per day taking a day off here and there to discover a new city or town. It took me 30 days to arrive in Merida, Mexico, where I stayed for 2 months.

Then, because I have some good friends in San Cristobal de las Casas, I went to spend Christmas there. It is almost 1,000 km and two days of riding on some of the sketchiest highways I’ve experienced. Then, I returned to Merida but only for a couple weeks before ping ponging back to San Cris.

I basically work 5 days a week and ride 2 days a week. It’s a beautiful balance of computer time and road time. 


F: Cool, so you’re in Mexico, you’ve taken some time off, and it was time to get back to work. What was your process to find some work?

I was initially planning to take six months to travel and then head back to work, however after a conversation with a long time buddy, Flo, he let me know that he was looking for someone to help start and scale his Support team. I am a firm believer in the shared economy and Poparide is a great concept that helps a lot of people.

I also believe that when an opportunity comes up to work with friends, it’s a good one to take. And finally, I have seen a successful support team grow from 10 to 120 people and have had the privilege to have seen it done well. To offer my learnings and take on this challenge seemed like the perfect fit. 


F: You’ll be looking over customer support at Poparide as we grow, which is a key area to ensure our members have a good experience and eventually, for our business to be successful. Can you tell us what your vision is for the support team at Poparide?

My goal is to help build a remotely distributed team of smart, tech savvy and diplomatic people who not only want to be the front line of communication with our members, but also have a keen eye for innovation and efficiency.

As we grow, our support load grows. We aim to deliver consistent top tier support at scale while simultaneously gathering the data necessary to help improve our product and processes.

There is a delicate dance between product and support, and curating the right level of self serve help through our product and help center as well as assisted support with our team will ultimately get our members the answers they need, faster and more easily.

At the end of the day, we are people helping people share rides. Many of these rides result in friendships. Maintaining that magic and humanity as we grow is our responsibility.


Welcome to the team, Antonia!


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