Izabella Gabowicz is COO at Sensibill, an emerging Canadian FinTech that partners with financial institutions to offer Digital Receipt Management to consumers and businesses through their mobile and online banking. She has over 15 years of experience delivering transformative, user-facing solutions for enterprise clients.
Izabella is also one of our newly appointed board members. We sat down with her to chat about her professional journey thus far, the decision to join the board of directors and what she hopes to bring to the organization as a director.
Tell us more about Sensibill and your role there.
I am the COO at Sensibill – a receipt management SaaS company. We partner with financial institutions to make receipt management available to their end users through their mobile and online banking apps. We do not have a direct to consumer model in the way that most SaaS companies do, but rather, we are partnering with enterprises so they can make the service available to their consumers. This model makes for a really great solution with respect to execution. We are able to have a greater reach but it also introduces unique challenges that you do not necessarily have with direct to consumer SaaS.
Previously, I have worked at IBM and have many years of IT delivery to enterprise customers experience under my belt. I am quite familiar with the ways in which it is necessary to be able to service large enterprises and to be able to work with them and ensure that they are successful. I have been able to bring a lot of that experience to Sensibill in my role here.
I have been with the company since its second year. When I started, we had five team members and now we are at about 55 people. So I saw the company through a fair amount of rapid growth.
In 2017, we closed a large series A round and that introduced a lot of obligation to be able to provide a return on investment for the investors. There is now an added stress factor in being able to accomplish everything that needs to be accomplished. Up until that point, I could draw on what I had seen in my prior role at IBM but things have changed significantly at this point.
How did you hear about Peerscale and why did you decide to join?
With the company growing so rapidly, the shape and nature of our challenges are changing and there is less that I am able to directly draw on from past experiences. After raising the series A round, I felt that there was a greater need for me to seek out a peer network in order to be able to have more people to talk to who have been facing similar challenges and who will be able to give valuable advice or at least tell me what worked for them, so that I can learn from their mistakes as well as their successes
That is when I was connected to Peerscale. I joined in the summer of 2017 and I have found that the peergroups are tremendously helpful and useful, not just from the perspective of being able to get input from people who have been there and done that, even though that is quite useful in its own right, but just knowing that there are other people who have done some of the same things and that we can commiserate is awesome.
How has being a part of Peerscale benefited you and your company?
As an executive, we need to be consistently mindful of how we are presenting ourselves publicly and ensuring that we are highlighting our successes, because success begets further success. When more people are aware of your wins, it is easier to attract great talent that would allow you to win more and so we do spend a lot of time highlighting those wins.
As a result, there are very few people with whom we can talk about our challenges and our problems openly. Through my COO membership I have a peergroup of others who are in the same position – we can talk about the challenges we are facing and know that we are not being judged for them because every single business has been in the same position. We know that we will be able to get through it the same way that others been able to get through it.
Why did you decide to join the Board of Directors and what do you hope to contribute to the organization?
There are not many women in C level positions within tech. As a result, there aren’t that many women with board seats as well – the statistics are not where we want them to be and I am fortunate that I have the opportunity to be able to put myself out there to help change some of the specifics. I feel at least a certain amount of responsibility to just show that the opportunities are there.
One of the things that I have gathered from various conversations is that there are certain key points in a company’s life that are significant turning points. There is an entire culture change that happens at 20 employees and then it feels different again at 55 to 60 employees. There are a number of other such stages. What I would like is for us to have some sort of focus on getting speakers that can talk us through those stages. Being able to smoothly transition through these key stages is vital for the success of the business.
What advice do you have for people who are looking to join Peerscale? How can members make the most out of their Peerscale experience?
The organization is only going to be of value if you make a concerted effort and commitment to it. What makes the peergroups work is that all of us in the group have made a commitment to meet every month to take part in it. We are putting in time for ourselves and one another and that creates substantially more value.
You have to give it your all. You can try being a member for a year as there is no long-term commitment. You need to be ready to set aside the time to invest in attending all of the meetings and to be as transparent and as honest as you can be in those meetings. Bring your most authentic self to the table and you will be able to derive the most value out of your Peerscale experience.
Thank you, Izabella! We are looking forward to having you on the Board.