Headshot of Jeanelle Teves, General Manager of North America of Bugaboo.
Jeanelle Teves, General Manager of North America, Bugaboo. — Bugaboo

Three strategies for business success that Jeanelle Teves, GM of Bugaboo North America, gleaned from her mentors:

  • Before the work week begins, take 15 minutes to nail down three personal and professional priorities for the upcoming week to zero in on your goals and set yourself up for success. ‘Focus, and keep it simple,’ Teves says.
  • Remember that ‘the best ideas can sometimes live only in a presentation,’ Teves says, ‘but true leadership is creating focus on a clear goal, formulating a plan, and empowering a unified team to [execute that plan and] go.’
  • Consider the ‘who’ and the ‘why’ when conceiving and developing a product or service, and make sure it’s grounded in data based on customer needs, she says.

Jeanelle Teves, who leads Bugaboo’s U.S. business as General Manager of North America, has watched the brand’s “one-second-fold” Butterfly stroller become its best-selling item worldwide this year, thanks to a marketing campaign that laid bare the challenges city parents face navigating the crowded streets and subway stairs of urban spaces.

That success marks the imprint of three mentors who’ve schooled Teves on the art and science of storytelling grounded in data-driven consumer insights, she told CO—.

This “personal board of directors” has granted Teves the framework to manage and “empower” cross-functional teams at consumer brands like Bugaboo and Nike — where she spent a decade in senior digital roles in Europe and North America — to deliver measurable results “so that magic happens,” she said.

Here, Teves reveals “game changing” lessons and hacks imparted by her mentors, like the “Sunday zoom-out,” that move business plans from ideation to execution, and “make the impossible possible.”

CO—: Who are your mentors and why?

JT: When I started my career at Nike ten years ago, one of my greatest fortunes was being hired by senior leader, Danielle Baca, who set up the digital merchandising function in Europe. As a business leader, knowing your books inside and out is so important, and Danielle taught me this lesson early on. She challenged me to dive into the data and the craft of balancing science and art in storytelling.

Another leader that I have to call out is Erica Bullard, the current SVP of Apparel at Harley Davidson. She has the incredible strength to make the complex simple. Even years later, I’ll face a challenge and think of these women: Find the facts, create a story, and make it simple.

Finally, I feel fortunate to be working in a time where you can connect with individuals whom you typically wouldn’t. During the pandemic, I started following Suneera Madhani, the CEO and Founder of Stax Payments. Suneera built a billion-dollar fintech company, is building another business with The CEO School coaching community, and she is a mom. Her systems have been hugely influential in how I organize my life as a working mother myself.

At the start of every week, I write down the three biggest priorities for Bugaboo based on the goals that we set together, and I share these with my team in our Monday leadership staff meeting so we unite in our time, energy, and dollars invested.

Jeanelle Teves, General Manager of North America, Bugaboo

CO—: What have you learned from them that’s been game changing to your career and in leading a business?

JT: I have this quote that sits in my office, “Million-Dollar Idea Execution,” [with the word ‘idea,’ crossed out]. [The crossed-out word] reminds me that the best ideas can sometimes live only in a presentation, but true leadership is creating focus on a clear goal, formulating a plan, and empowering a unified team [to execute that plan and] go. Then magic happens.

Another game changer for me has been identifying no more than three big goals. My mind works in threes. The approach goes back to Erica Bullard, who modeled for me how to make the complex simple.

How she did this was to start with an insight: What is the problem we are trying to solve for the consumer? It’s a three-step process — the ‘why’ [the challenge]; the ‘what’ we need to do [the plan]; and then the desired outcome [the solution]. Again, there’s something about the human brain that works in threes.

One of the systems that I’m so passionate about is the 15-minute Sunday zoom-out, which comes from Suneera.

On Sundays, I [zoom out to] look at my agenda from a Bugaboo perspective — what does my team need and what does my family need, and how are we going to divide and conquer, and how am I going to orchestrate my time? It’s really that slice of time on Sunday that sets me up for success.

At the start of every week, I write down the three biggest priorities for Bugaboo based on the goals that we set together, and I share these with my team in our Monday leadership staff meeting so we unite in our time, energy, and dollars invested. These weekly goals all ladder up to quarterly goals, which ladder up to our annual goals, so everything is connected. We work as a team to make the impossible possible.

[Read: Execs From Hershey’s to Microsoft Reveal Their Mentors’ Best Advice]

 Mother and father packing their car with their child in a Bugaboo Butterfly stroller.
Bugaboo's Butterfly stroller, shown here, has become its best-selling item worldwide this year. — Bugaboo

CO—: Show us your mentors’ imprint in action: How has their advice informed a business success?

JT: We serve new parents around the globe. Mobilizing teammates, crossing cultural boundaries, and pushing projects to the finish line can often seem daunting. But the art of storytelling – using clear facts grounded in data and delivered with passion for our greater ‘why’ is a powerful combination to solve for those tasks. This art and skill are things that these three leaders have imparted on me in their own unique ways.

As we’re designing products and thinking about the next innovation, it can become easy to slip into, ‘What do we want the product to have, do, and look like?’ In those situations, it has become powerful to come back to the ‘why’ and the ‘who.’ We’re here to serve parents and make their lives easier and simpler, so that we can look at the data [to identify] the biggest problems parents are facing. Danielle Baca, for example, imparted to me knowing your books and numbers inside out, because numbers are truth. I use data in all my storytelling.

We found that New York City parents, for example, must carry strollers down subway stairs. There are no elevators. Strollers are really hard to fold, and it’s really hard for parents to travel with them. So, we came back with all that data and based on that insight, we launched the Bugaboo Butterfly stroller, inspired by the city parent, that folds really easily with one hand. It’s extremely light and has an incredible one-second fold. That is the story.

It was inspired by the family on the go, and with the return to travel post-pandemic, we have seen such an incredible response. It’s quickly became our best-selling stroller nationally and globally.

My role as the head of Bugaboo North America is storytelling: Here’s what the New York mom goes through, here’s how hard it is to go through the subway to have coffee with a friend in the East Village. Storytelling is in how the product is developed and how we communicate that to the consumer. It’s bringing the product team along, and when we talk about it in our visuals in our campaigns, here’s how we bring it to life.

[Read: Salesforce’s Retail VP & GM on His 3 Mentors Who Changed Everything — But Didn’t Know They Were Mentors]

CO—: What project next year at Bugaboo reflects your mentors’ influence?

JT: We are launching a new product category, which is baby furniture, with the announcement of our European-designed and manufactured highchair. In April 2022, we also announced ‘Push to Zero,’ which is our ESG [environmental, social, and governance] commitment to be carbon footprint net zero by 2035. With this change, our strollers moving forward will be made with bio-based materials, which means as of 2023, our strollers will be made from plants. Stay tuned for two exciting projects, which I can’t share just yet.

Balancing these many initiatives cross-functionally on a global scale can pose a challenge. I go back to my mantra: ‘Focus and keep it simple.’

CO—: Complete this sentence: Had I not met X, I likely never would have...

JT: Had I not met Suneera Madhani, I likely would not have expanded the vision of what is possible in my life as an executive leader and a working mother.

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Published December 13, 2022