Pinterest Case Study

Full name
11 Jan 2022
5 min read

Executive Summary:

This case study highlights Mira Rosenzweig's successful implementation of a travel and small meetings program at Pinterest. As the company's first travel manager, Mira adopted a servant leadership approach, focusing on active listening, empathy, and building a sense of community. By dedicating time to understand the company's needs and gathering feedback from stakeholders, she tailored a travel and meetings program that aligned with Pinterest's goals and pillars. 

Making the case for Small Meetings:

  • Showcase an existing challenge and present data gathered to senior leadership
  • Understand senior management’s priorities and concerns 
  • Personalize the approach in pitching to different audiences
  • Build internal consensus and solicit support from internal stakeholders and AVPs
  • Provide a recommended strategy and conservative budget
  • Build the business case(s) and lead with numbers

Mira's best practices serve as a valuable guide for implementing successful travel and meetings programs, while building a coalition of stakeholders, travelers and executives who all view her as “their” champion for business travel and meetings.

Introduction:

Mira Rosenzweig is an accomplished Travel Management Professional focused on development and implementation and leadership with global travel. Her colleagues characterize her as an effective communicator, presenter and facilitator. She addresses complex issues and resolves them creatively. She has extensive experience leading and managing travel programs and developing detailed cost saving initiatives. 

Mira joined Pinterest as their first travel manager with the goal of establishing a successful travel and meetings program. She understood that running a program is akin to running a business within a business and focused on adopting a servant leadership approach. Mira's approach involved active listening, empathy, awareness, persuasion, commitment to growth, and building community.

 

Understanding the Company's Needs:

Upon joining Pinterest, Mira recognized the importance of tailoring the travel program to meet the specific needs of the company. She dedicated over six months to listening and gathering feedback from various stakeholders, including admins, executive assistants, travelers, and vendors. Through this process, she gained insights into how the company was currently using travel services and identified areas for improvement.

“When I was interviewing with Pinterest and knew I was coming in as their first travel manager, first thing I said to them was I need the time to understand what this company needs, and you need to give me that time for this to be successful.” – Mira Rosenzweig

Creating a Tailored Travel Program:

Armed with the information gathered, Mira crafted a travel program that aligned with Pinterest's goals and pillars. She focused on empathy, leveraging her experience to build trust and assure employees that she understood their needs. Mira also prioritized awareness by staying informed about industry changes through extensive reading and attending relevant webinars.

“If you think about running a program, you're actually running a business within a business.”- Mira Rosenzweig

Persuasion and Leadership Philosophy:

Mira recognized that travel is a personal experience, and persuading employees to trust and follow her recommendations required effective leadership. She emphasized the importance of building trust and commitment to employees' growth while fostering a sense of community within the organization. Mira engaged with employees, seeking feedback on their travel experiences and striving to improve their return on investment.

“I had to take a step back and look at the characteristics of a servant leader. That is first and foremost, listening.” – Mira Rosenzweig

Engaging with Employees:

To foster a sense of community, Mira regularly engaged with Pinterest employees beyond the scope of her role. She proactively introduced herself during lunches and after-work gatherings, providing a personal touch and gathering feedback. Mira understood the significance of feedback in refining and enhancing the travel program.

“It’s important to get feedback on what's working and what's not.  One of the times I told my boss if I walk into a room and no one knows who I am, you can fire me.” – Mira Rosenzweig

Goals of the Small Meetings Program:

Pinterest's evolving work structure, known as Pinflex, led to significant changes in the travel program. With employees spread across different locations, small meetings became crucial for maintaining company culture. Mira advocated for the small meetings program by showcasing the impact of travel on fostering teamwork and collaboration. She highlighted the need for creative solutions due to changes in real estate structures and the demand for more meeting spaces.

“I'm a team of two. I can't be there managing all these travels, all these meetings. How do we show this? How do we support people who are not meeting professionals?” – Mira Rosenzweig

Building a Business Case:

Mira collaborated with the events team, meeting planners, and executive assistants to gather data on the number and cost of meetings. By presenting concrete numbers, such as hours spent and average costs per meeting, she made a compelling case for optimizing the process. Mira emphasized the importance of creating solutions beyond hiring more staff, focusing on technology and process improvements.

“In building business cases, you have to lead with numbers.” – Mira Rosenzweig

Selling the Program to Senior Management:

Selling the small meetings program to senior management required understanding their priorities and concerns. Mira personalized her approach, demonstrating how the program would benefit each executive and their teams. She incorporated concrete numbers to showcase the potential cost and time savings while aligning the program with the company's overall goals.

“If your senior leader is hearing about your request to purchase something for the first time you failed walking in the door. You need to have a gaggle of people behind you. And you need to have this really wide business case to say “this is the problem it’s going to solve for all these things. This is the return on investment! We aren’t just throwing money at it. … You should expect at least three meetings with management to get a small meetings initiative approved. ” – Mira Rosenzweig

Elevator Pitch for Executives:

Mira emphasized tailoring the elevator pitch to the specific audience. Understanding the priorities of each executive allowed her to focus on numbers when presenting to CFOs and appeal to emotions when speaking with HR teams. She always provided a solution along with the problem, showcasing the value and potential savings of implementing a technology solution for meetings.

“Understand your audience. So, if you’re talking to the People Team or HR team, you’re going to tug on their heart strings. If you’re talking to a CFO, you start off with numbers.” – Mira Rosenzweig

 

Conclusion:

Mira's best practices in implementing a travel and small meetings program at Pinterest centered around active listening, empathy, awareness, persuasion, commitment to growth, and building community. By understanding the company's needs, creating a tailored travel program, and engaging with employees, she successfully advocated for and implemented the small meetings program. Her ability to build a strong business case and personalize her pitches to senior management while soliciting internal support from Pinterest’s employees and their AVPs ensures continued success of her various travel and meetings programs.

In this clip from Bizly's Learn from the Masters series, Mira Rosenzweig, Pinterest's Travel Manager, breaks down how to sell up technology internally.

To view the entire webinar: click here!

Passcode: Cr$2+asr

For a free copy of the Bizly value calculator and the entire case study, email Frank Schnur at fschnur@bizly.com