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Role Call | Maria Raga, Vice President of Operations

Maria Raga, vice president of operations at Depop, says "If you enjoy starting from scratch, and find that uncertainty or making big decisions doesn’t scare you, then start-ups will probably be a good fit."
Maria Raga | Photo: Alex McLuckie
By
  • Kati Chitrakorn

There are few sectors of the economy that offer as wide and interesting a range of career opportunities as fashion. Role Call highlights some of the industry’s most interesting jobs and the talented people who do them. For more information about fashion industry roles like this and others, visit BoF Careers.

LONDON, United Kingdom — Maria Raga is vice president of operations at social shopping app Depop. After graduating from business administration at Valencia University in Spain, Raga moved to Boston to work as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Not convinced that academia was for her, Raga transitioned to Bain & Co, where she worked as a management consultant for five years. She obtained an MBA from INSEAD in 2007, before joining the private sales company Privalia, which has offices in Spain, Italy, Mexico and Brazil. In 2010, Raga moved to London to be part of the founding team of MyCityDeal, later acquired by Groupon. Four years later, she worked for fashion start-up Brand Alley, before beginning her current role in July 2014.

BoF: Please describe your current role.

I currently head up the operations team at Depop, a social marketplace app based in London, New York and Milan. My role is varied and cross-functional: from working closely with our internal teams, to interacting directly with any one of our 2 million users. Ultimately, I am responsible for ensuring that Depop is a fun community where people can buy and sell in an engaging and social environment. And I love it!

BoF: What attracted you to the role?

Previously, when I worked as a management consultant, I knew that I wanted to join a start-up where I could implement and execute a vision. I craved a “hands-on" experience and was willing to take risks. I got my first opportunity as part of the original team that launched and developed MyCityDeal in the UK. It was tough but a rewarding journey. I was hooked.

Early in 2014, after a few months of travelling with my family, I went about meeting as many people as I could from different industries. At the time, I was four months pregnant and not looking for a long-term commitment. But, Depop came along. Depop, which I saw encompassed the rare combination of e-commerce, social and fashion, whilst being a high growth start-up, had recently received strong backing from reputable venture capital firms and was looking to expand. I just couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by. I made the right call.

I continuously find myself encouraging friends to jump out of the corporate boat and to embark into the start-up world. Often, their main concerns are not being able to maintain a work-life balance and pay-cuts.

BoF: What is the most exciting project or initiative you have worked on?

Every day brings new and exciting challenges as we continuously evolve and innovate. It is hard to pick the most exciting project, but my first one at Depop was very fulfilling. Setting up a US branch was something I'd never done before. Bringing our app to such an established and sophisticated market seemed a daunting task. There was so much to do! It was difficult to decide where to begin, yet it was exhilarating. Today, Depop is growing massively in the US and that makes me very proud of our team. We have bloggers like Leandra Medine and Aimee Song and celebrity personalities like Dita Von Teese using the app.

BoF: How is your role changing? What are the forces driving this change?

Depop is growing at such a fast pace, having recently reached 2 million users. Scale of course, comes with its own operational challenges. My role as vice president of operations is to make sure that every person who signs up to Depop is joining a vibrant, safe, friendly community of buyers and sellers.

BoF: Tell us about a time you failed and how you learned from it.

Success comes from experience and experience comes from failure. I am constantly failing, which means that I am constantly learning — hopefully. Every day I think there is something I could have done better. Throughout my career, not only have I learned to acknowledge my weaknesses and potentiate my strengths, but I have also learnt to trust my instincts and not to take myself too seriously.

BoF: What advice do you have for people who are interested in doing what you do?

I continuously find myself encouraging friends to jump out of the corporate boat and to embark into the start-up world. Often, their main concerns are lack of experience, not being able to maintain a work-life balance and pay-cuts. You need to know what kind of animal you are. If you enjoy starting from scratch, and find that uncertainty and making big decisions doesn’t scare you, then start-ups will probably be a good fit. Then once you are in, work hard, learn from others and lead by example. It will pay off!

This interview has been edited and condensed.

For more information about fashion industry roles like this and others, visit BoF Careers.

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