24 Sep Boulo: Champion for Women Seeking Flexible & Fulfilling Work
The transcript of a fantastic chat between Mary Killelea, host of the 2B Bolder podcast, and Delphine Carter, Founder & CEO of Boulo Solutions, is available below. The podcast, Episode #38, covers a variety of topics.
Boulo helps women who have been out of the workforce articulate and translate their abilities and talents. Boulo also connects full-time working women with roles that provide them with the balance they seek. To do so, Boulo collaborates with caregiver-friendly businesses that value diversity and flexibility. These businesses profit as a result.
Listen to hear how Boulo Solutions helps women find work that fits their lifestyle, aligns with their interests, and leverages their skills and talents. Or read on (transcript edited).
Mary Killelea: Welcome to the 2B Bolder Podcast, providing career insights for the next generation of women in business and tech. 2B Bolder was created out of my love for technology and marketing, my desire to bring together like-minded women, and my hope to be a great role model and source of inspiration for my two girls and other young women. I want to encourage you guys to show up to be bolder and to know that anything you guys dream of, it’s totally possible.
Delphine Carter is on the show. I am so excited about what she’s doing to help women and their careers. Delphine is the founder and CEO of Boulo, a career matching service that helps women stay in and return to the workforce. She has helped over 1000 women and generated over a million dollars in revenue so far.
Delphine, thank you so much for being on the show.
Delphine Carter: I’m so glad to be here. I’m looking forward to it.
What’s Your Background? Nonlinear Generalist – What?
Mary Killelea: I’m intrigued about your business and want to hear all about it. But first, I’d like to set the tone on who you are, your background, and career highlights. How did you evolve into wanting to start Boulo?
Delphine Carter: I was the stereotypical female careerist. I’ve always said the only thing I’ve ever been good at is work. My entire career has been as a generalist, so I’ve been in sales, I’ve been in marketing, I’ve been project management, customer success, all of it. I’d been a project manager and then a product manager that created and launched new software.
It turns out that three out of four women have nonlinear careers just like mine. There is no place on a job board for nonlinear careers. I’d get nowhere because my career bounced around everywhere.
Then I had this idea with a partner. We decided we could solve the problem for the generalist, and we could help women who need work flexibility. We can also help the businesses that need these people. I used my sales skills, customer success skills, and all the other things that nobody thought made sense together to create Boulo.
Mary Killelea: That’s awesome. Tell me, how did you come up with that name Boulo?
Delphine Carter: I’m half French. I grew up overseas. Boulo is slang for work in French, like “gig.”
Mary Killelea: Perfect. That makes total sense.
What Can Boulo Do For Me?
Let’s dive into Boulo. Educate me. If I’m a woman and want to learn more about your business, how can you help me?
Delphine Carter: We serve two types of women. Our member demographics are split down the middle. One type is women who are trying to get back into the workforce after taking a caregiving break. The other type is the women who are currently working full time and looking to find a job that gives them flexibility.
Return to Work Path
Those paths are a little bit different. If you are someone who’s been out of work, you may feel like you’re struggling to explain how your caretaking role is valuable. And it is in so many ways and levels.
If you are that type of person, we ask you a series of questions when you complete your profile with us. We ask for examples of your leadership, innovation, and persistence. Tell us about these things in your words. We then frame it so a business can understand how your world today translates into success in their role for their company.
Our team helps those women develop the words, and then we are their advocates in the marketplace. We tell businesses, “You’re going to miss out if you don’t interview this person. Just interview them; we’re not asking you to hire them. Just interview.” And from there, we see success stories.
Working But Seeking Flexibility
Females who have been working for a long time but want to transition into a flexible job have a more streamlined process. You can apply to any of the jobs on our Career Page on our website.
Our vision as a company is to have a 1% material impact on the number of women in the labor force within the next 10 years. We will meet this goal by working with innovative companies that value diversity. Then we’ll match them with these incredible brains that are sitting in carpool or sitting in offices, draining themselves. We will make everybody successful on all sides.
Mary Killelea: That is so fabulous. I’m getting goosebumps! I so wish I would have had something like you to lean on when I was younger. I worked for myself because we needed the money, and I wanted to be there for my daughters. It was craziness. I wish I’d had a service like you guys provide.
So Who are Your Clients?
What’s been the response from the corporations? Who are your clients?
Delphine Carter: We work mostly with small to medium-sized businesses, typically under 200 employees. They can be nimble and agile. These companies take somebody because they are a generalist. Smaller companies think, “Wow, all of these skills! I can really use this person’s diverse skills and ‘plug and play’ to get my business going and be successful.” They also tend to be more open to flexibility.
So that’s been our core customer. Also, tech companies that need a jump team. We can bring them a full-time accountant, a part-time marketer, and sales help. We’re able to offer everything they need to get started.
Corporations are a difficult journey for us. It’s a much longer sales cycle. There’s a lot more for the women to slog through to get to a flexible option. And not many are offering flexibility, even with COVID.
Mary Killelea: I think that’s going to change. I think people are starting to understand, from a business perspective, the value of diversity and women and what we bring to corporations and the bottom line.
What are 3 Qualities Businesses Value?
I absolutely love what you said, how you help women articulate or translate their very useful skills from parenting or whatever reason they had a career break. If you had to describe three qualities that you tend to emphasize or translate for companies, what would they be?
Delphine Carter: Moms are better listeners, they’re calmer in a crisis, they’re better team players. They’re also more diplomatic. Studies show 89% of American workers agree that working moms in leadership roles bring out the best in employees.
During COVID, a lot of women left the workforce. But at the same time, we saw more women promoted into leadership roles. Companies needed empathetic listeners during that time. Those strengths were elevated and valued.
How Does Boulo Differ from Job Boards?
Mary Killelea: How is Boulo different? Why should someone go to you versus an Indeed to look for jobs?
Delphine Carter: For one, we only work with companies that offer flexibility. It’s flexibility in hours, location, or culture. Flexibility in culture means that if I run to the dentist, I don’t feel like I have to be accountable for my time to five different people. And then feel ashamed have to explain how I’m going to make up my work.
Businesses who measure KPIs and tell their employees to “execute hit your goal, I don’t care how you get there just get there” can provide a flexible culture. That’s one of our biggest differentiators, flexibility.
The second one is that we advocate for the women because we understand their voices so intimately. We can translate the value that they bring to the businesses.
The beautiful thing that we learned from the very beginning is the number of businesses owners that came to us and said, “You’re talking about my mom, you’re talking about my sister, or you’re talking about my wife.” They saw these genius women in their lives who either were incredible career moms or had always wished that they could be and never could find their way back in.
Mary Killelea: That’s what I hear a lot from my friends.
Business Challenges and Wisdom Nuggets
Talk about when you were starting this business. What kind of challenges did you face? What are some wisdom nuggets that you can share with us in how you address challenges?
Delphine Carter: One of our biggest challenges is helping women believe in themselves. Women come to us and say, “I’ve just been a mom for 10 years.” But they’ve likely been pulled into their community and contributed in some way.
Even the people working full time struggle to believe that they could ask their company for flexibility. They lack the self-confidence to say, “I’m valuable enough to be given this request.”
To handle those challenges, we came up with a 360-degree profile. We worked with an industrial psychologist who helped us develop questions that would draw people’s skills out of them.
Also, trying to scale a business, the takeaway is to take one step forward. Solve that one problem and then just keep moving. And then the ideas come, and you move past that barrier.
Mary Killelea: Your business certainly serves a valuable purpose by bridging top female talent with companies.
Before and After Returning to the Workforce
What are some of the responses from the women who might have lacked confidence prior, and then you see them six months after you have helped them?
Delphine Carter: My favorite is when we get pictures of them working, and there’s a baby on their lap, or they’ve got a child in the background. It’s showing this can be done; they’re reaching their goals. They’re successful.
About a month ago, we received an email from the company who told us they had promoted a Boulo member to the Director level. She had previously been out of the workforce for a little bit. We placed her originally with the company in a customer success role. She went from helping them with their customers to becoming a Director for Customer Success. Both she and the company are thriving.
That’s the type of story we shout out to our team. You put it out on all the Slack channels and say, “this is why we get up every single day.”
Culture is Key
Mary Killelea: Absolutely, that’s exciting. And what excites you the most about having your own business?
Delphine Carter: The ability to establish my own culture as a company. Our dream is to become a B Corps to positively affect our community and world as a company and team.
Mary Killelea: How did you pivot during the pandemic?
Delphine Carter: At first, everyone froze and went into a don’t spend mode. But there was a movement in our city. Utilizing a grant, Birmingham took unemployed workers and matched them with nonprofits. The city chose Boulo to handle all the labor, onboarding, etc., for them.
It felt good, and it kept us going. I’m eternally grateful to the city of Birmingham for having that idea and for using us during COVID.
How to Be Successful as an Entrepreneur
Mary Killelea: I researched you for this podcast. You have a lot of references who spoke very highly about your work ethic and your determination.
As an entrepreneur, what do you think are qualities that a person should have to succeed?
Delphine Carter: Blind stubbornness or perseverance. It’s believing enough in your idea to know you’ve got the right thing. You know this problem needs to be solved.
And this is just a quick fire. I just have to walk through, and on the other side, it’s clear. Then the smoke clears, and you’re in a better place. You’re one step closer to your goal.
So, perseverance and believing enough in what you want to do that you will run through a brick wall.
Know Any Good Books?
Mary Killelea: What were the two last books that you’ve read?
Delphine Carter: These are odd. One of them is a great little book called Why Fish Don’t Exist. It’s a memoir with an excellent story along the way.
The other one is more because of my line of work. It’s called Double X Economy. It’s about why women have found themselves with lower pay, the childcare penalty, and the parenting penalty.
I read another one a long time ago, but it is essential in any woman’s bookshelf. It’s called Burnout.
Mary Killelea: That’s awesome.
One Last Thing to Know – Moms Bring Value. Boulo is Built on This Promise.
What do you want to tell the listeners that maybe we haven’t touched on?
Delphine Carter: My entire company is being built by women who stepped out of the workforce to take care of their children and wanted to get back in. You can build a company that has over a million in revenue and grow it outside of your region with these types of employees. I want anyone that owns a company to hear that. And any mom that questions their value to a business, I want them to hear that as well. My team is incredible, and it’s all the moms that are in our database.
Mary Killelea: Thank you so much for being on the show. Your work is very valuable, and I commend you on all your work.
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