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Future of Work

Q&A with Canadian Tech Entrepreneur Michele Romanow

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Michele Romanow

Co-founder & CEO, Clearco


What advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations? 

My advice to employers who want to future-proof their organizations is to have a strong and open leadership team. For any organization to succeed, you need a diverse leadership team that focuses on adaptability. Hiring global talent with various backgrounds and skill sets will ensure a collaborative culture. It’s hard to predict how the future can disrupt your business, and you have to be flexible and decisive in your approach. And that starts from the top down, having the right group of people leading the way. As we saw in the fallout of the pandemic, businesses had to adapt their work culture and to their customers’ evolving needs. We should adopt this flexible approach going forward, always being open to shifting with the landscape and keeping an ear to the ground for how you can best support your employees through it.


What do you believe are the top three trends to watch in the future of work?

The top three trends to watch in the future of work are adaptability, diversity and inclusion in an ever-growing global market, and collaborative learning environments, including new additions to work settings like hybrid models, AI technology, a focus on skills over roles, and breaking down hierarchies. I’m proud to say we’re prioritizing D&I in Clearco’s corporate culture, with over half of our leadership team being female and 29 per cent female representation on the board. On top of that, our AI-based funding model offers blind funding with age- gender- race- and region-agnostic algorithms, which literally change the face of investment. Because of this, our portfolio at Clearco looks totally different than the typical VC. Clearco funds founders in all 50 states. We fund nine times more BIPOC founders, and 50 per cent of Clearco’s portfolio is female-founded companies — that’s 25 times as many as the traditional VC. In addition, we fund 25 times more Black woman-owned businesses. Through this approach, there’s a path to growth for early-stage businesses regardless of where they live, who they know, or how early they’re in their business journey.


How have you pivoted your business to adapt to the future of work? What challenges did you have to overcome?

COVID-19 shifted our entire business model. In March 2020, consumers stopped spending money completely, and we realized early on that e-commerce spending would take off. From there, we recognized that Clearco would be an actual necessity for the booming e-commerce startup scene. As a result, we could help many businesses grow faster than ever before, and in turn, we saw exponential growth as well.


What advice would you give today’s career seekers to remain adaptable to the future of work?

The advice that I would give to today’s career seekers is to be diligent in your knowledge-building. There are myriad ways to achieve this, whether through higher education like college and graduate degrees or online certifications and communities. Education in itself creates opportunities for many, and learning is an ongoing process that even executives at top companies prioritize. I think today’s workforce prioritizes skill-building in a way that previous generations have prioritized what degree you have and from which university. And I’d advise avoiding focusing on only one set of skills but instead diversifying them across a field or industry. Whether creating a project on the side or learning a new language, diversifying your skillset will make it easier for you to adapt to the changing workforce, the evolution of existing industries, and the introduction of completely new fields that are bound to happen in your professional life.


Is remote work here to stay? What steps should organizations take to implement a hybrid working model efficiently?

With the swift transition of many companies adopting a fully remote or hybrid work culture, the overall reaction from employees to the flexibility has been positive. At Clearco, we’ve had a hybrid workforce since 2020 and found it highly advantageous for productivity. I advise companies to set up a hybrid working model to establish a centralized communication network. This will ensure that all employees have equal access to the tools and resources they need to communicate and collaborate with others. 

Implementing a hybrid model can encourage companies to provide more resources to employees, such as additional health and mental health benefits, childcare, and learning tools and courses they can utilize at home. Organizations can also leverage the benefits of hybrid work to increase productivity and efficiency, as employees can solidify work-life balance and create working environments tailored to their needs. This will not only lead to improved employee health and results, but it will also lead to lower employee burnout.

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