Behind The Scenes: Lucy

Babbel’s Head of Growth Strategy talks about the importance of market research, taking calculated risks, and being lost in translation.

At Babbel, our endgame is getting people to have conversations with other people, in a new language. There are fantastic folks here making that possible. In our “Behind The Scenes” series, we sit down with them to provide a glimpse into who makes it all work, what they do, and where their heads are at. 

This round we’re talking to Lucy Criddle, Babbel’s Head of Growth Strategy. 

What’s your role at Babbel? What do you do on a typical day?

I run the Growth Strategy team, which is part of the Marketing department. We run projects that have a goal of rapidly growing business performance. For example, currently, this includes establishing a strong foothold in a new market and leading a cross-functional (Product-Engineering-Marketing) revenue growth initiative. To do this we find new strategies, conduct experiments, and take a few (calculated) risks. We need to work across multiple teams and convince them to join our cause, and then manage the projects in a disciplined way, since we are responsible for meeting the performance targets. I work with the team to help break down the particular challenge, structure the solution and guide/coach them to work with their own teams or peers to ensure that the project is a success. 

Where are you from? When did you move to Berlin? 

I’m originally from the UK and moved to Berlin in the Summer of 2017. However, before that, I lived in Asia for 10 years, mostly in Singapore but also some time in China and Hong Kong. I moved to Berlin by taking the train from Beijing with one suitcase — it took five weeks — it was a bit of culture shock to come back to Europe again. 

Which languages do you speak/are learning with Babbel? 

I’m ashamed to say that I don’t speak any languages fluently other than English, but I can have conversations in French and German, and speak/read survival Mandarin Chinese. I have also started learning Spanish with the Babbel app and it has been really helpful for me to understand the product and how it helps our users learn.

This is a pretty international workplace. How does that influence your work?

I have only ever worked in international environments — even my first job in London was spent traveling to Amsterdam every week to meet clients. As a native Brit, I quickly learned to modify my language to a more neutral international English — cutting out colloquialisms and slang. It’s important to not make assumptions around what people are saying and always ask to clarify — even if the English sounds right, if it’s a second (or third!) language of the other person, it could have a slightly different interpretation. Another area that I found especially relevant in Asia is around the style of communication — in some cultures, it’s rude to question your boss or peers, whereas in other places it is expected. The general rule is: Be curious — never stop asking questions, you never know what else there is to learn!

What learning/growth opportunities at Babbel have impacted you most? 

Last year, I worked with the Marketing Leadership Team to develop the Commercial Strategy 2020. To ensure it was a success, I wanted people from across all parts of Marketing to contribute — as I was new, their expertise and buy-in was essential, since they would be ultimately executing it. This provided me with a holistic and in-depth understanding of the business, which I was then able to share with the Leadership Team to help them build the strategy. It was a lot of work, but a privilege to now have those insights, which I can bring to the rest of my role and the team.

What challenges are you most animated by?

I love projects that have to solve new problems and cut across multiple functions and areas. It’s especially exciting if the teams haven’t worked together before. Usually, there is so much opportunity to be realized — whether it’s cutting data in a way that shows an entirely new picture, or bringing together teams that see the same problem from opposite perspectives. Not only are these challenges intellectually stimulating, but they also require an understanding of where the people who are involved stand. It’s easy for conflict to happen in these types of cases, so I find it really rewarding when teams have that “aha” moment and they begin to collaborate and work together towards the bigger picture. 

How does working on a purpose-driven product affect your workday?

I really enjoy it because it is so relatable! Although, it sometimes feels like the lines get blurred between work and my private life, as I find myself thinking about the product as a user as well. I always need to be mindful of not being biased, and instead, let the research and data guide the decisions. Everyone at Babbel is passionate about language learning, and you can feel it on a daily basis, which makes for an enjoyable culture and some interesting discussions! 

Are there tools you’ve brought with you that you find surprisingly useful?

My background is in Strategy Consulting, so there are a number of frameworks and approaches that I take for granted now — if that counts as a tool. I’m a big believer in discipline, focus, and prioritization and use tools or techniques that support this. One of the great things about Babbel is how passionate and full of ideas people are, but sometimes it means we need to stay on track with one idea before getting carried away with all the others 🙂 

Want to work with Lucy? Her team is currently looking for a Growth Strategist!

Ewa Cabaj

Ewa works in the Internal Communications team in Berlin and heads up Babbel's Employer Branding. She likes to think of herself as a trilingual Polish-German-American nomad and is a big fan of all things noodle, travel, and dog-related content.

Ewa works in the Internal Communications team in Berlin and heads up Babbel's Employer Branding. She likes to think of herself as a trilingual Polish-German-American nomad and is a big fan of all things noodle, travel, and dog-related content.