Featured Vancouverite: Elizabeth Steward


Photography by Masoud Harati

A small market town called Brandon (in the UK). Most people have never heard of it, so I usually say Cambridge, which is the closest city.

How long have you been a Vancouverite? Four years

I’m Director of Marketing for the Dun & Bradstreet Cloud Innovation Center.

We’re a software division of a 174-year-old global business information company that is based right in the heart of downtown. As a team, we work on some really big strategic projects for the company, using the very latest in web and cloud computing technologies.

My role is to help tell the Dun & Bradstreet product story, as well as provide thought leadership and education for other businesses looking to adopt cloud-based technology. Right now, we’re building the next generation of Dun & Bradstreet’s flagship product, called DNBi, which helps credit managers to make decisions on which companies to do business with, how much credit to extend to those companies, and how much risk they are taking on as a result. We’re working with the world’s largest business database to make this project happen – some 300 million business records gathered from across 200 countries. It’s huge!

Is the start up community in Vancouver quite active/extensive and do you see any trends in local businesses?
In a word: yes. I’m a bit of a startup junkie and arrived in Vancouver having worked in both the London and Cambridge startup scenes. Vancouver hasn’t traditionally had a reputation for being a technology or innovation hub, so when I arrived in the city I was nervous as to what career opportunities there would be here. But in fact, the vast majority of Vancouver’s technology sector is made up of companies with five or fewer people and I’ve found it to be a very tight-knit, welcoming and collaborative startup community.

The technology sector in general is also booming, and now generates the third highest GDP of all industries in British Columbia. What’s great for Vancouver though is that it’s not only small businesses and startups that make up the sector — a number of multinationals are setting up offices here as well such as Microsoft, Dun & Bradstreet, Salesforce and Amazon. This is exactly what we need in order to develop a richer, more mature technology ecosystem and become a global player as a city. It’s such an exciting time to work in this industry in Vancouver.

You have been active in marketing and management for more than 9 years in the tech industry. Can you share some attributes of an innovative manager in this realm?
The single biggest attribute of an innovative manager in any discipline is passion. If you love what you do, you’ll find inspiration everywhere. You’ll have great ideas and care about the execution of them. In marketing, all the little details matter, so you need a good balance of creative thinking and attention to detail.

I also find that the most successful marketers are those that build strong, collaborative networks. Marketing is a hugely diverse area that covers many disciplines and moves fast. No one can be an expert in all these areas so building a trusted community of advisors, friends and vendors whose expertise you can draw on is important.

When looking to attract ideal employees, what are some skills and qualities that you look for and what do you do differently to bring in the best in the industry?
Our team was created when Indicee, our small analytics software startup, was acquired by Dun & Bradstreet in April of last year. We now have the best of both business worlds in that we’re part of an established global company, but have kept hold of our startup culture.

When we were first acquired by Dun & Bradstreet we had to hire like crazy to grow the team. Maintaining our culture was so important to us that we wove it into everything we did. As part of our hiring process we looked for people who shared our culture and values as a team, and who demonstrated the same entrepreneurial spirit that startups thrive on. We made sure that every candidate was interviewed by multiple people, including at least one person that wasn’t in their business area. This allowed us to get a variety of interview perspectives and ensure cross-team fit. It worked! We grew by 327% in just nine months.

As a British expat in Vancouver, where do you go when you’re feeling homesick?
Vancouver feels like home now, so I can honestly say I don’t often feel homesick. When I do get those moments though, I love to take a walk around the seawall and remind myself of what a beautiful city we live in – which is what brought me here in the first place. Oh, and you can’t beat Oyama Sausage Co. in Granville Island Market for their traditional English bangers!

Do you know someone who would be a great featured Vancouverite? Let us know in the comment box below!

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