Thought Leader Spotlight: Cassandra Miller

by Jenny on April 17, 2017 Comments Off on Thought Leader Spotlight: Cassandra Miller

When we first experienced See Jane Go, we hailed a ride for lunch to a shopping center that is known for crazy parking challenges. We were delighted by the clear branding message presented by the driver and her unbridled passion for the ultimate experience. This ride made us more curious on what and more importantly WHO is the driving force behind this innovative idea and brand. Since then, we’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the See Jane Go leadership team. We are honored to introduce you to Cassandra Miller, thought leader and COO. We chose Cassandra as this month’s Thought Leader Spotlight because she is innately curious (a trait we adore and live everyday here at MacKenzie,) and because she and her team are not afraid to bring disruption to the ride hail industry. We appreciate Cassandra’s and See Jane Go’s commitment to their customers and business growth, innovation, and the community.

Q. How Did See Jane Go come about:
A. It all started with a father/daughter conversation between Savannah and William Jordan. She (Savannah) wanted to have access to transportation and to an income opportunity. Thinking of an Uber or Lyft, her father said “No Way!” The question became, “why can’t women just drive women?” Thinking of his daughter’s safety, William conducted lots of research, formed the executive team, and See Jane Go was born.

Q. We obviously love companies that do their research, what key data points did they find that helped move this business idea forward?
A. In their research, they found that less than 17% of Uber drivers are women and 50% of See Jane Go drivers said they never have or would not have driven for Uber or Lyft. When asked, 100% of the drivers interviewed have said “Hail Yes!” they would drive exclusively for See Jane Go when given the opportunity.

See Jane Go was created with mindset of the driver as the first customer; providing an entrepreneurial opportunity for women to access the sharing economy. Providing an outlet for women to have flexible opportunity to earn income and create their own business in a meaningful way. We believe that when our drivers are well trained and happy, they will give the best experience to our passengers. This is a company built on mutual support and respect, treating drivers and employees well, and providing them with training, safety, and business operations support. www.seejanego.co

Q. Tell us about your role at See Jane Go:
A. I have the most exciting job in the world; and we are having so much fun building See Jane Go. As a key member of the executive team and leading operations, I have been developing the overall strategy on how we approach the market and differentiate ourselves from the other services as well developing the processes for the “How the Company Works”.
My teams, include Customer Service, Product Development, Engineering, HR, and Regulatory Compliance. I work together with the executive team and am usually the one chosen to go out and be the face of the company for business and operations related speaking opportunities, NPR broadcasts, and other media.

I’m in charge of “dreaming things up” and my favorite is product and experience innovation and always looking for the next way to deliver a better customer experience. For example, scheduled rides – we heard from our users they wanted this feature and building this within the app was outside the original roadmap but we had a basic offering up and running within weeks of hatching the idea. Stay tuned, we have some truly innovative product and experience developments that we are rolling out throughout the next 12 months – Our brand is fun, simple and magical.

Q: Who were/are your role models? Who inspired you, mentored or supported you along the way?
A: First, a bit about me that will build a foundation for this questions. I was a single teenage mom at 16 years old and homeless at 18 years old; living in a homeless shelter. I brought my daughter to high school with me and then later, both my daughter and son to undergrad and grad school. I am a never say die kind of person. If I say it will be done, it will.
Role Model: My mom. As a single mom of 5 kids, she modeled endless drive and overcoming obstacles. She wasn’t going to let anything get us down, she kept on trying and trying and did this was unconditional love.
Inspiration: My kids. Being poor growing up was hard and I did not want my kids to have to go through that, even though I was such a young mother. Looking at their faces and into their eyes kept me inspired to work harder and smarter to provide the best life for them.

Support: My family. My father pulled out of his struggles and was always there when I was in the biggest pinch, talking me through it all in my times of need. He, along with my mom, brothers and sisters, extended family, and in most years my husband, where all there for me with advice and cheering me on when I needed it most.

Q: How have you distinguished yourself from others/ how do you stand out from the competition?
A: My silly answer–when I’m in heels, I’m 6’2 in heels! To be serious, it is how you act and your ethics at your core stick with you; reputation is everything. People who have known me since the beginning of my career know that I am someone who will stand up and say something’s wrong. You know where I stand on things. I am willing to take a stand (direct but kind) and fight for what is right. On the other side in terms of skill set; when I’ve asked people, they say that have a special superpower to go from the big strategic picture and then like a zoom lens focus down to the finest details and back to up the big picture. Something that I’ve worked my whole career on is working on taking an idea from inception to completion at a rapid pace.

Q: As you look back on your life at this moment, what are you most proud of? What would you do differently?
A: Most proud: Raising my children and providing a good life for them while getting an education and building a career.

Do differently: My Daughter was in ballet and was advancing so much and was doing such a lovely job. She broke her collar bone and took some time off to heal. During that time, she wanted to quit because she felt ballet was too hard. I didn’t fight her on it and let her quit. That one choice affected her and made it easier to quit other things. I wish I would have pushed harder and not given her the easy way out. This really is a mom thing, but I take that with my employees when they want to quit on a difficult growth task and I encourage them to push through.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you have received?
A: Keep your network strong. This does not mean go out to networking events and hand out your business cards and it stops there. Build your network and help people, get to know people, build strong relationships inside and outside of your organization. It’s the people that you’ve shared with, gone through trials with, and helped that are there for you and you help build each-others careers. It takes time and it is about relationships. Make friends and enrich each other’s lives.

Q: Where do you find inspiration outside of your job? (Hobbies, family/friends, charity, etc.)
A: A huge passion of mine is Pathways of Hope, a homeless shelter for families in Fullerton, CA. This is the homeless shelter that I lived when I was 18, I came back after I had established a good life and asked how I can help them help others. I’ve been on the board of directors for 9 years helping single moms and families that can’t make ends meet find ways to get sustainable and affordable housing and stability. I am also recently married and my husband is adorable and an absolute gem. We just love swim and dance. I love to play poker and have game night at my house. We have such a great time with strategy games. Love to go on hikes with my son. I am a simple girl who loves family time and simple pleasures. Oh, and I love to turn on a chick flick and cook. My favorite dish is the one I’ve never made; I love dreaming up and creating new recipes. I’m always thinking what if I put this and this together. (Ask her about her new green bean recipe)

Q: What daily routines do you have that prepare you for success?
A: I’m a morning girl. I wake up and my brain is on fire. I make my smoothie, do a gym work out with an audible business book or podcast every day on something that I want to learn about. I really believe that if you put the right ingredients inside your body, your brain can just do amazing things.

Q: What do you think will be the biggest challenge that the next generation of women will face?
A: Acknowledging the difference between men and women. Men and women lead differently. When young women model their leadership style after a man’s style, it comes off wrong. Women brains are different; we are wired differently. Own your femininity and lead as a woman leads, things just work out so well. Embracing and being authentic to who you are. If you are able to find a women leader or mentor to look up to grab onto the opportunity and cherish it.

Q: Last question, what is your favorite inspirational quotes?
A: I have three inspirational quotes that are all of the same theme and remind me of what we are doing at See Jane Go. Many said it was impossible to start a female ride-hail service, that is was discrimination and there was no way around it, that you can’t compete with Uber, you will never get the app launched, you will never be able to raise enough money…and on and on.
These are some of the quotes that come to mind as we climb over the barriers and do what others say can’t be done.

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” – Christopher Reeves

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” – Walt Disney

“Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it” James A. Baldwin

For more information about Cassandra and See Jane Go, click here to visit their website.

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Jenny

Jenny Dinnen is President of Sales and Marketing at MacKenzie Corporation. Driven to maximize customer's value and exceed expectations, Jenny carries a can-do attitude wherever she goes. She maintains open communication channels with both her clients and her staff to ensure all goals and objectives are being met in an expeditious manner. Jenny is a big-picture thinker who leads MacKenzie in developing strategies for growth while maintaining a focus on the core services that have made the company a success. Basically, when something needs to get done, go see Jenny. Before joining MacKenzie, Jenny worked at HD Supply as a Marketing Manager and Household Auto Finance in their marketing department. Jenny received her undergrad degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado (Boulder) and her MBA from the University of Redlands.

JennyThought Leader Spotlight: Cassandra Miller