Inspirational Woman: Lisa Robinson | Founder & CEO, Companiions

Lisa Robinsoncompaniions was founded by Lisa Robinson, an ex amazon executive.

As well as being an entrepreneur, Lisa is a mother of two young children, one of whom was diagnosed with asthma aged just 10 months. Working full-time whilst caring for a child who was in-and-out of hospital, as well as her ageing parents proved challenging. Lisa looked at all kinds of support options but found they were either expensive, inconvenient or troublesome to arrange.

Lisa became obsessed with making companionship easier, safer and more human using technology to modernise the experience. She wanted to create a care solution for her friends, family and everyone so she gathered a group of clever, kind, ambitious people and created companiions – an app that brings people together by making it quick, easy and safe to arrange companionship.

Lisa has 25 years experience leading highly successful advertising teams whilst at amazon, sky and other globally successful businesses

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’m an entrepreneur with two young children who’s been fortunate enough to have a great career in advertising for over 20 years. When I moved overseas due to a family illness, I quickly realised how expensive, inconvenient and confusing arranging help and companionship was for the loved ones we left in the UK. That’s why I founded and became the CEO of companiions to ensure people can easily, safely and affordably book help and companionship for themselves or their loved ones.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I chose a career in advertising after reading a book called ‘What Colour is your Parachute?’ which helped me focus in on what my strengths and weaknesses were. So initially, I did plan a career in advertising and thoroughly enjoyed the challenges and rewards that came with working in such a fast paced industry. However, what I didn’t plan was giving up my career at Amazon to set up a social enterprise start up whilst on maternity leave with a 6-month and 2-year old. This career move was born out of purpose after moving overseas and identifying a gap in the care market – which I knew from personal experience was in need of solving. I was fortunate enough to have a brilliant team who joined me on our mission to bring companionship to every community.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Launching a face-to-face companionship business two weeks before the UK went into lockdown definitely presented challenges, but in many ways Covid did a lot of passive marketing for companions, as it made people acutely aware of the negative effects loneliness and isolation can have on people, particularly on their loved ones. This really highlighted the importance of communities such as companiions.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Probably being promoted to be the only woman on the leadership team whilst at Amazon advertising. It provided an opportunity to give women a seat at the table and ensure women were represented effectively. It was also great experience to work with such a strong leadership team and insight into operations and troubleshooting and the challenges that come with running a business. The experience gained whilst working with such great leaders at Amazon gave me the confidence to set up my own business.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Putting customers first, always. If you figure out what your customers need and are always working backwards from what they need and want everything else usually follows in my experience. I’ve always loved my job, don’t get me wrong I have off days filled with frustration and challenges, but overall, I’ve been lucky enough to have inspirational leaders, great customers, and teams I learn from and respect. All the successes in my career can be put down to having purpose and enjoying what I do. Companiions is the culmination of this as I get to work with a brilliant team to help people on a daily basis – though we won’t see ourselves as achieving success until there’s a companion in every community globally.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I’ve mentored employees in various high performing advertising teams over the past 15 years and was a member of the leadership mentor scheme in the last two companies I worked at; helping employees to set goals and drive towards them whilst encouraging them to think big. Since starting companions, I’ve been approached to mentor two other women who are starting their own businesses which I’ve accepted with ease. It’s a pleasure to be able to advise other women on their businesses and I love that I can pass my knowledge on to help others. Often, they end up mentoring me too which is the best bit as we’re always learning.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

Women often take on the lion’s share of the responsibilities of caring for elderly parents and other family responsibilities, often impacting their career and potential earnings. Alleviating some of this burden would help accelerate the movement towards gender equality and ensure women are able to drive their careers forward as they have the support they need to get on and do so. This was one of the reasons I set up companions; I was struggling to attend meetings when I had a poorly child who was in and out of hospital and had no support. In fact, I almost gave up my role to be there for my family. By partnering with companies to make companiions available to employees via their benefits schemes, my hope is that nobody is faced with these tough choices in future.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Don’t worry too much about the future, just work hard, have fun, and be generous and kind and things will work out

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

To scale companions quickly, so we can bring companionship to every community globally.

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