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Meet Vanessa Gabriel: The Fast Interview

Vanessa Gabriel, Director of Customer Success at Fast

Vanessa Gabriel

Role: Director of Customer Success

Team: Customer Success

Talk about your background leading up to Fast.

I started my career working at (the bank) HSBC. It was a great introduction to the corporate world; however, in my last year, I no longer felt challenged. I started my own business on the side in late 2013 manufacturing, marketing, and distributing yoga mats in the Philippines. In that whole process, I met a lot of entrepreneurs and happened to meet the team launching this, at the time, new startup in Manila called Uber. A few months later, I joined Uber for a six-year, five-star ride. I moved to San Francisco to work at the headquarters and eventually Amsterdam.

How did you learn about Fast, and why did you say yes?

Allison (Barr Allen, Co-Founder and COO at Fast) was my manager at Uber. I learned about the company from her. Unfortunately, in June 2020, my team and I were some of the few thousands impacted by layoffs at Uber. I took some time to reflect on what I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to build again, solve problems at scale, and find ways to make an impact in communities and people’s lives.

Allison reached out to me in August about an opportunity to build out the customer success function. I talked to Domm (Holland, Co-Founder and CEO at Fast) a few days later, and by the end of that week, I talked to Peter (Grassi, Director of Talent Acquisition at Fast) about an offer. Fast ticked all the boxes I was looking for. Not only is Fast trying to redefine an antiquated checkout experience, it’s enabling businesses with tremendous growth.

Where did you grow up, and what were you like as a child?

I grew up in Toronto, in a suburb called Scarborough. I was very quiet, loved to play with my older sister, and watch sitcoms after school. I enjoyed piano lessons and looked forward to going to school. I was also part of the junior soccer team. Summers were spent outdoors cycling or playing games with other kids in the neighborhood.

What was your first job?

I spent my teenage years in Manila. I taught English and coached Korean, Japanese, and Brazilian immigrants how to communicate in social settings. I was a teenager but most of my students were twice my age.

What career path did you almost take?

If my tech career hadn’t taken off with Uber, I would have moved to Hong Kong for a role at HSBC. I probably would have stayed in banking or along that trajectory.

Which public figure do you admire most and why?

Lately, I’ve been really inspired by Aurora James. She’s an entrepreneur that started a nonprofit called the 15 Percent Pledge last year, which calls on major retailers to pledge 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned brands.

What app on your phone do you use the most?

Instagram, followed by WhatsApp, then Spotify.

What food do you uncontrollably eat?

Smartfood popcorn, pizza, pasta, and cookies. I love carbs.

Who’s your favorite TV or film character?

Professor Snape (“Harry Potter”), Don Draper (“Mad Men”), Mookie (“Do the Right Thing”), Darth Vader (“Star Wars”), Walter White (“Breaking Bad”), Tony Soprano (“The Sopranos”). They face very real human conflicts and prompt you to think. What choices would you make when faced with extreme temptation, violence, or loss?

What was the last show you binge-watched?

I’m the type of person that’ll rewatch series over and over again. I find the predictability comforting. I recently rewatched “Game of Thrones.” As for new series, I recommend “Lupin.”

What personal goal would you like to achieve in the next five years?

I want to continue building a diverse, supportive organization. After Fast, eventually, start my own business again. I definitely want to get another dog. I’d like to get better at taking care of my mental health, practicing vulnerability, and helping others. And learn to speak, read, and write in Dutch.

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