Shiela Lirio Marcelo, born and raised in the Philippines, is the founder and the CEO of the nation’s largest and fastest growing online marketplace providing services such as child care, sitters, caregivers, tutors and senior home care providers. As the Chief Executive of Care.com,Shiela Lirio Marcelo is noted for her high-energy and her ability to raise more than $35 million in venture capital funding, most recently in October 2010. In an article published by the Harvard Business School Bulletin, Shiela was described as an “active dynamo” who gets up most mornings at 4:00 o’clock and stays more motivated when she is busier. Shiela is one of the very few female technology entrepreneurs in the entire world who continues to advocate for female entrepreneurship and a Filipina at that.
Shiela Lirio Marcelo who graduated from Brent International School (High School) in Baguio City knew from an early age what business ethics is all about. Growing up from entrepreneurial parents with six children, she saw in them the values of being an executive and a business person which would later on guide her throughout her corporate life. She entered Mount Holyoke College,South Hadley, Massachusetts in 1989 majoring in economics and international relations. In 1996, she enrolled both at the Harvard Business School and Law School becoming one of the most sought after students in both school. While a student at the HBS, she was a representative and chair of the Education Committee, revitalized the HBS Ventures, among others. She also did a summer internship in the Philippines with Monitor Company, the management consulting firm.
Prior to establishing Care.Com, she was a corporate executive helping for-profit start-ups such as , TheLadders and MatrixPartners. In 2006, after seeing the challenge of looking for a caregiver to her youngest son, she realized she was not the only one who was running into the same issue. As a business woman at that time, balancing life and family was a tough job. With her educational and corporate background, she founded Care.Com with the vision of helping families find trustworthy and dependable care providers. Since then, Care.com has become one of the fastest growing online marketplace of home care providers with over 1.4 million unique online visitors each month and over 800, 000 members.
As her business grows so does Shiela’s achievements. In 2009, she was acknowledged as one of the Top 10 entrepreneur at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit and one of the “40 under 40″ executives in Boston Business Journal. She also received the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2010 for New England. In 2011, she was awarded a Marshall Memorial Fellowship and named as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum for which she is co-leading a global task force on Women & Technology. Recently in March 2012, Sheila was named one of the 10 Most Powerful Women in Boston Tech by The Boston Globe’s Innovation Economy and was named a Henry Crown Fellow with the Aspen Institute.
She lives in the Boston area with her husband Ron, their two sons and two dogs.
Below are some of my favorite portions from an interview she had with the New York Times published in August 2010:
Q. What were some important leadership lessons?
A. I was promoted as a V.P. in my 20s at Upromise. I had to go hire an executive coach because two of my mentors said: “You’re kind of getting in your own way. You’re ruining your relationships with people because you’re so focused on this black and white.” There are so many shades of gray on how to get something done, and how people do things.
And that was a great learning opportunity for me, because I had mentors who held a mirror up and said, this is the important thing for you to focus on.
Q. How do you balance focusing on results and the people?
A. I think it’s a push-pull, and it’s a little bit of an experiment in really understanding who you’re managing and the relationship you have with that person, and what they’re capable of. I can’t say that there’s one way of managing, because there are so many idiosyncrasies when you’re managing a specific individual. So I think it’s learning the different styles that people have, and harnessing their strengths, and how they get motivated and what inspires them to get stuff done.
Q. So what did you learn from the executive coach?
A. The first thing she gave me advice on, and I give it to everybody, is to journal. Write things down. When you come out of a meeting, or you come out of an interview, or you just finished running a session, what’s on your mind? How did it make you feel? How did you make people feel? What’s going on? Again, it was raising my self-awareness around my management style. I think that was critical.
And then she taught me a lot about meditation. At first, I will tell you, it was the hokiest thing I’d ever heard. Why would I even consider this meditation thing? And now I meditate. It’s this belief around “turning the mind into an ally,” and there’s actually a great Buddhist monk who wrote a book with that title. It’s about how you talk to yourself. And it’s getting to know yourself.
The key thing is self-stability. People ask me all the time: How do you juggle so much? You’ve got kids. You’re running a company. You do it all. And I always tell them: It’s not really doing it all. It’s learning to kind of manage my mind and create the stability. And it’s not always balanced. It’s not always great. And I have to do a constant check-in with myself to just say, O.K., I’m doing O.K. I’m going to get through this day.
You wouldn’t think that an executive coach would provide that, but at a young age when I was a V.P., it was the most invaluable piece of advice I got — to focus on really talking to myself in a positive way that moves things forward as opposed to on the negative side.
Q. Anything unusual about the way you run meetings?
A. We make three types of decisions at Care.com. We do Type 1, Type 2, Type 3 decisions. Type 1 decisions are the decision-maker’s sole decision — dictatorial. Type 2: people can provide input, and then the person can still make the decision. Type 3, it’s consensus. It’s a great way to efficiently solve a problem.
Q. What else about the culture?
A. Everybody moves around every year and has a different seat in the company. And people don’t have a choice where they sit; we rotate them. Part of the reason was to embrace change, to remove turfiness so that you’re not just chatting with your friends and sitting with your friends.
You sit with somebody else from a different team so you get to know their job. What are they doing? What are they saying on the phone? How do they tick? And it’s getting to know different people, so that we build a really big team. And we do that every year. And it’s now actually become an exciting thing that people embrace.