The Q Awards: Executive DNA

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MargARET georgiadis (MArgo)is a self-proclaimed “data nerd.”

   She revels in data. She’s obsessed with statistics. She’s inspired by mission-driven companies. And she loves using data to propel those missions forward.

   The CEO of Lehi-based Ancestry (as of a year ago) also refers to herself as an “accidental business leader.” But when you look at her executive career and the companies on her resume (Google, Mattel, Discover Financial Services, Groupon, McKinsey & Company), the data proves her skills and success are no accident.

Business Roots

   Georgiadis loved music growing up and always thought it would be part of her life path. But her career path found a different rhythm. She earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and then took on key executive roles with some of the most iconic companies in America. Her expertise? Building and scaling global brands while effectively engaging customers through technology.

   As president, Americas, of Google (2011 to 2017), she helped take it from a “desktop search company” to a game-changing mobile enterprise. As an executive vice president of Discover Financial Services (2004 to 2008), she played a key role in taking the company public and impacting the company’s receivables from declines to transformative growth. And as CEO of Mattel, Inc. (2017 to 2018) she was instrumental in helping the famous toy company rediscover its roots with diversity and inclusion.

   “Working at these iconic companies has been an honor that I don’t take for granted,” Georgiadis says. “It’s been a thrill to tackle crucial, life-changing problems with the best leaders in the world.”

Back to the Future

   Joining Ancestry as CEO brought together two of Georgiadis’ favorite things: data and mission-driven companies. Ancestry is bursting with data and has the world’s largest collection of online records. It also has an unparalleled mission of helping people discover who they are and where they came from.

   “My two worlds collided! This company has such a rich history with three decades of helping people make these meaningful connections,” Georgiadis says. “I have such great respect for the visionaries who created Ancestry, and I’m excited to help lead the company into its next chapter. The DNA of Ancestry is remarkable. The vision for the future is clear, and it’s my job to empower our employees with the tools and trust to get us there.”

Leading Lessons

   Georgiadis is a proven leader — and it’s a role that seems to be part of her DNA.

   “I want to be a thoughtful leader,” she says. “I want to provide clarity to our vision and be a source of positivity and motivation. I say this often, but it’s important. My biggest role is empowering employees to bring their best selves to work. For me, leadership is creating an environment where people accomplish hard things that they couldn’t have done on their own.”

The Place To Be

   Georgiadis lives in California, but over the past year as Ancestry’s CEO, she has spent about half her time in Utah.

   “Silicon Slopes has an undeniable energy,” she says. “I can’t think of a better place for our company to be headquartered.”

   There’s also an undeniable energy among Ancestry’s customer base. At the annual RootsTech conference this past February, Ancestry announced unprecedented product features and enhancements that had family history buffs cheering.

   “We are a powerful community with a shared passion,” Georgiadis says. “On a very human level, our products help people feel connected to something bigger than themselves.”

   Long live data nerds.

Lead with Diversity: “An effective leader is someone who champions diversity in the organization — be it gender or race or diversity of thought. Everyone has different life experiences, and we need and value all of those perspectives. when you embrace those differences, the company is better for it. Hire people who are better than you are. Go all the way to the front lines and understand the challenges they face. Give clarity to the company’s mission. Fight for connectivity within the organization. Push boundaries. Be a mentor. Leadership is heads up, not heads down. ”
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