Caroline Dupraz-Ibarra is the first to call her career journey unconventional. But it’s her unique path working in vastly different industries—from food and beverage to startups, NGOs, and charities—that allows her to bring a fresh perspective into her new role at Squarespace.
As the company’s Competitive Intelligence Lead, Dupraz-Ibarra draws from her experience developing strategy and foresights to help organizations understand market dynamics and the competitive landscape. The best part? She now works in an industry that has always fascinated her and where she sees endless potential.
“Technology, specifically the internet, is catapulting small, emerging brands and constantly throwing disruptors into the marketplace,” she says. “The opportunity to leverage technology to help advance new ideas and help small- to medium-sized businesses is what got me excited about joining Squarespace.”
Here, Dupraz-Ibarra shares what her remote interview and onboarding experience was like at Squarespace, the biggest challenge she has faced in her career, and advice to anyone considering making the leap into a new industry.
What are you responsible for in your role?
My current role is incredibly exciting. As Competitive Intelligence Lead, I drive the development of a centralized perspective of the market landscape and our competitive positioning within the industry. Competitive intelligence draws from work and resources cross-functionally to provide thought leadership and keep the organization abreast of the latest developments and strategic shifts. It’s about looking into the future to see what competitors will do.
As a relatively new hire at Squarespace, tell us about the interview process and candidate experience.
I found that Squarespace’s recruitment process was comprehensive and enjoyable. I spoke with nine people and everyone was really approachable. From the very first call, the recruiter was transparent about expectations. Following the introductory meeting with my hiring manager, I was asked to complete a case study, which I presented to a panel of interviewers. Each member of the panel worked in a different area of the business, which gave me the opportunity to learn about the company as a whole. It was a two-way conversation at every point.
Coming into the recruiting process, I was already familiar with the brand and product. It was during the interview process, however, that Squarespace’s values came to life for me. I learned what Squarespace was doing to support and uplift communities. Our “Browser History” campaign, which celebrates six customers (entrepreneurs and dreamers) who made the best of the worst year, is the perfect example of this. This culture that’s rooted in integrity, inclusivity, and excellence really resonated with me.
What was the remote onboarding process like?
Remote onboarding presents its own set of challenges, but Squarespace has done a great job at adapting the process to the current situation. The marketing team has been incredibly welcoming and supportive. Due to the team’s rapid growth over the past year, there are now dozens of us who share a similar onboarding experience. There is a clear sense of solidarity within the team, and everyone is always very willing to help others out.
Both my manager and the onboarding team helped make the process highly personable. After joining the company, I benefited from a broad range of onboarding sessions, including “This is Squarespace,” which laid out the company’s mission, culture, and values, and “Our Product and Brand,” which introduced me to the evolution of our products over the years. During my first week, I had the opportunity to attend a customer studio visit, which included a virtual tour of a customer’s chocolate factory. Seeing firsthand how Squarespace has enabled the global expansion of a confectionery business really brought this full circle for me based on my prior experience in the food and beverage sector.
What advice do you have for anyone applying to a job at Squarespace? How can someone stand out in an interview?
Squarespace values people who put themselves out there. We exist to help people with creative ideas to stand out and succeed, and I believe Squarespace looks for candidates that embody and embrace this mission. The culture is the most inclusive that I’ve ever experienced. My advice: Don’t be afraid to talk about your personal passions and what makes you tick. Find a way to demonstrate how your background will offer a new and unique perspective.
I also recommend reading up on the company. I did a ton of research before interviewing at Squarespace. For me, having a vision for the role that I was interviewing for was important—and to do that, I needed to have an understanding of Squarespace’s history, business model, and competitive set.
What tips do you have for someone looking to make a switch to a new industry like you did?
My number one tip is to be open-minded. I think that adaptability and agility are critical, especially in the current economic environment. After graduating from business school, I was determined to help early-stage consumer-oriented companies develop growth strategies and access growth equity capital in order to advance emerging trends and concepts into the mainstream. While I initially thought that would mean working within the food and beverage venture capital ecosystem, the opportunity to lead competitive intelligence at Squarespace came up and it was one that I couldn’t pass up. Squarespace’s mission and values aligned really well with my ultimate goal of helping advance emerging trends and ideas. I wanted to be part of this outstanding team and to help shape the direction of this innovative, high-growth company.
You recently earned an MBA. What are one or two lessons you learned while getting your degree that you’ll take with you throughout your career?
The most valuable thing that I took away from my MBA was a very strong network of diverse, globally minded professionals who span a wide spectrum of industries, professions, geographies, and backgrounds. I not only made lifelong friends, but also developed professional relationships. My Oxford University network introduced me to opportunities to advise nonprofits and charities on fundraising and market expansion. Prior to my job at Squarespace, this was some of the most fulfilling work that I have done.
My favorite class in business school was “Reputation and Leadership” with Professor Rupert Younger, the founder and director of the Oxford University Center for Corporate Reputation. It gave me a deeper understanding of the dynamics of reputational management and behavioral, network, and narrative-based factors that can influence how companies build and uphold their reputations. Examining how companies can gain a competitive advantage through their reputation, as Apple has done with privacy or Patagonia with social responsibility, was particularly enlightening.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
As a generally agreeable person by nature, managing conflict in the workplace can be challenging at times. A few months into my first job, the CIO and founder of the company directly objected to my point of view on a company-wide equity research note that I published. Although his rebuke made me feel unsettled at first, I learned a valuable lesson from my response to the challenge that day. I critically re-examined my recommendation, and once I had validated my thesis, I collected and presented further data-driven support, which ultimately led to a profitable trade for the company. In retrospect, I was fortunate to learn so early in my career how to positively address disagreement, even with superiors, and grow a company’s understanding of market realities through effective communication.