Dopple Featured In Lessons From Inspiring Women In Tech

You cannot do everything on your own. Build the best team around you. Hire people that are smarter than you who can help you and the company grow. Your team is critical to the success of the company. You want to ensure you hire people who are passionate about your mission and share your vision but also bring different experiences to the company. We live by this at Dopple. When we identify an area of weakness, we identify it and then when needed, go out and hire the best person possible to fill that gap.

This interview was originally published in Authority Magazine

I had the pleasure of interviewing VP of Finance Ali Pringle. Ali oversees all of finance and human resources operations for Dopple. Dopple provides a platform and executes professional services for brands across verticals to deliver engaging and effective experiences through high fidelity product visualization and augmented reality. Before Dopple, Ali worked in finance at other tech startups in Charleston, SC and spent the beginning of her career in Audit at PwC in New York City. Ali has recently become a mother & is learning how to navigate the exciting challenge of being a working mother in today’s world.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I was young, mathematics was the one thing that came most naturally to me in the classroom. I envisioned myself becoming a math teacher and started down the education path when I entered college. After two years of education focused classes, I concluded that teaching was not where I saw myself in the future and made the switch to an accounting major. Graduating on time was important to me, so this switch meant packing my semesters full with 21 credit hours and taking a summer class or two since I was behind on the business school curriculum. It was tough and took a lot of focus, but I was able to graduate on time with a Business degree in Accounting. After graduating, I started my career at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Audit. During my few years there, I worked on several retail and consumer clients, learned the basics of finances and gained invaluable experience that has shaped who I am today. From there, I have moved on and worked at and with a few different startups. This has brought me to where I am today as the VP of Finance at Dopple.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

Last year, Dopple had two new remote employees that we hired. We needed to purchase laptops for those individuals and get them set up so they were good to go on their first day. Only problem here was that we had no IT employee on staff and any individuals that had experience handling this previously had moved on from the company. That meant that I had to somehow figure out how I was going to get the proper security on this laptop and get it registered with our MDM (mobile device management) software. With zero IT experience and not a clue what MDM even meant; I embarked on this journey of learning.

After some troubleshooting, much frustration and tons of new things learned, I was able to successfully get these laptops set up. The anticipation of waiting for the new team members to try and log in for the first time felt like years but it all worked out in the end.

The lesson here is that you sometimes must do things that are not in your typical role or skill set especially in a startup. You may have zero clue what you are doing but you somehow find a way to figure it out and feel that much more accomplished in the end. I joke with our team when things like this happen that we have another skill set to be added to our resume!

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of the funniest mistakes that I made when first starting out in my career was standing in the kitchen at our client’s site and practicing what I was going to say when I walked into the intimidating client’s office. That individual walked into the kitchen behind me as I was practicing and overheard this. As soon as I saw they were there, I immediately apologized and fumbled trying to figure out what I was going to say next. This individual saw that I was very nervous and used this as an opportunity to teach me a valuable lesson that I still think about today. They asked me if I was prepared, I was. They asked me if I knew the subject I was speaking about, I did. They then asked me why I was nervous, and I could not answer that question. Lesson learned, take a deep breath and speak confidently. There is nothing to be nervous about when putting yourself in a new situation. You need to learn to embrace it and grow from those situations.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

When I was at PwC, I had a few moments where I considered giving up and changing careers. Public accounting is hard, it teachers you a lot but it is draining. I was working 60+ hours per week and getting up at 4 AM to study for the CPA exam prior to going to the office. One specific memory that I had was when I found out that I failed the first part I took of the CPA exam. This took a toll on me, I had never received a bad grade in school, let alone failed something. I was so down at that point that I considered giving up and had it in my mind that I was never going to pass the exam. My mom suggested that I talk to some others who had taken the exam and get some advice from those who have experienced this process. I spoke with my mentor at PwC who walked me through their experience and encouraged me to take a different approach to the exam. I had myself so stressed out about the exam that I was just cramming and not retaining anything. I also had stopped working out in order to study which was affecting my mood and ability to really focus. Seeing these things, I was able to change the way that I studied and ensure that I was doing less, better. If I was not forced to take a step back and see this, I don’t think I would have had the drive to keep pushing myself and pass all four parts of the exam.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote is by Maya Angelou, “”I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

This quote reminds me that my actions can impact others in many ways and the way that I treat people can leave a lasting impact. I find this especially relevant in my everyday life as well as my work life and life as a Mom. I really feel it is important to show empathy and kindness to everyone around us, helping to set an example for others. People are always watching and without even realizing, can learn from example.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. We’d love to learn a bit about your company. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address?

The main pain point that Dopple is helping to address is allowing brands to quickly respond to changing consumer demands with tools designed to deliver stronger business results on the front end, and more efficient operations on the backend.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Personally I think it is the culture we have created at Dopple as well as the people who make up the company. We have built a very transparent culture and all employees act as collective owners of the company. We work hard to accomplish our goals but also take the time to have fun and focus on wellness. We have also created a culture that is extremely collaborative while also being remote.

One of my favorite things we have done remotely as a team event was back in December. We did a virtual pizza cooking class. Everyone received ingredients directly to their house and then we all got on Zoom & went through an interactive cooking class together. It was so much fun to see everyone’s creations and enjoy some pizza “together” as a team!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Right now I am working on a more real time financial dashboard for our executive team and managers to provide more real time transparency to the organization. A lot of times when we do financial review, it is looking back at past data. I think that this visibility will help us make better decisions with the goal of driving our business forward faster.

Let’s zoom out a bit and talk in more broad terms. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in Tech? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

Since I have been in Tech, I have seen this change for the better but still women are underrepresented in this industry. Changing this requires an effort by companies, organizations and individuals to promote diversity and inclusivity in the industry. I think companies continuing to provide more flexible work arrangements will help as women are often faced with the challenge of balancing work and family responsibilities.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?

One of the biggest challenges that I see women In Tech faced with are finding the right balances between work and family life, especially if you have children. I had my first child this past year and it has been a challenge trying to ensure I give my all at work but then come home and be a good Mom for my son. I think that working for a company that understands your dual role and the importance of that can help to alleviate some of this challenge. At Dopple, I have the ability to get my work done on the schedule that works for our family which sometimes means leaving work at 3 PM and then starting back up again after bedtime at 7 PM.

Another area of challenge that I have seen is being one of the only women in the room. This takes a lot of confidence and courage to speak up and ensure your voice is heard. Sometimes you may have to jump in and be a little louder than you typically would be but I have never seen that not be embraced.

What would you advise to another tech leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth or sales and “restart their engines”?

My advice would be to take a step back and do a thorough review. Look at your overall business strategy and determine if you feel it is still relevant or could use a pivot. Get feedback around your current products and services to determine if a change needs to be made. Look for new opportunities for innovation. Another big area to consider would be improving your team and culture. Look at your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Are there areas in which you should make a change to bring in fresh ideas and perspectives? There are lots of areas that you could consider adjusting that can help “restart your engine” and reinvigorate the company. It is always important to stay flexible and be adaptable to take risks to further success.

Based on your experience, can you share 3 or 4 strategies to give your customers the best possible user experience and customer service?

Get to know and understand your customers. Learn their needs, preferences and pain points. Hold interviews, conduct market research and continuously gather customer feedback to gain insights into their experiences and expectations.

Take customer feedback seriously. Actively listen and use that feedback to drive improvements into your products and services.

Continuously improve with both customer service and the user experience. Use metrics to track progress and identify areas for improvement.

Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful tech company? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. You cannot do everything on your own. Build the best team around you. Hire people that are smarter than you who can help you and the company grow. Your team is critical to the success of the company. You want to ensure you hire people who are passionate about your mission and share your vision but also bring different experiences to the company. We live by this at Dopple. When we identify an area of weakness, we identify it and then when needed, go out and hire the best person possible to fill that gap.

  2. Don’t ignore culture and focus only on execution. Without having a strong cultural foundation, it will be hard to retain good employees and grow the company. I have seen the most success with companies who drive a culture of transparency and foster collaboration in every element of the organization. At Dopple, we invested in a very talented individual to drive culture and continuously improve the organization. We want to ensure that our culture continues to evolve and always allows for strong innovation within the organization.

  3. Let team members know that it is perfectly ok to make mistakes. Share examples of times that you as a leader have made mistakes and shown how that has helped you grow. In a tech company, you need people who are willing to move quickly and take on risk which will be impossible if they are not comfortable with making a mistake and learning from it. Every quarter, departments at Dopple review their performance on goals in front of the entire company. When goals are not hit, we talk about it and share what we learned from those misses. This is what truly helps us grow and get better.

  4. Track metrics. Metrics are critical for helping a company grow. Make every department own metrics and report on them. Metrics help identify the areas that you are excelling and where you need improvement. Metrics can help you set goals that help drive the business forward. Metrics provide objective data that can be used to inform decision making. By tracking and analyzing metrics, you can make data-driven decisions that are more likely to lead to success. At Dopple, we track KPI’s for each department and use them to drive our business decisions.

  5. Constantly Adapt. Don’t be afraid to make quick changes and try out new things. When you are growing a company, things are going to be constantly changing and you must be quick to adjust. Get comfortable with taking on the right amount of risk and knowing when that is appropriate. At Dopple, we use data to make our decisions and then are not afraid to discuss when something needs to be adjusted.

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!