Portrait: at the crossroads between data & business 🕵️♂️
With Gregoire Guisez, from MonDocteur.fr, Doctolib, and Pennylane
It’s honestly draining to hear everyone say being data-driven is a must, when only a few companies really do it.
I’ve been super lucky to meet Gregoire Guisez.
Making sure data was rightly used to drive business decisions and build the best user experience possible.
A few Frenchtech flagships you might have heard of 😉Mondocteur.fr, Doctolib, and Pennylane.
Let’s jump in!
Anh-Tho Chuong: Hey Grégoire, you’ve come up as a very knowledgeable person in terms of data for business teams, several times. How would you describe your job to a 15-year old?
Grégoire Guisez: I’d say I’m a Sherlock Holmes 🕵️ with his hat, the pipe, a magnifying glass, gathering facts so that the right decisions are made and implemented.
Another metaphor I have in mind is from football ⚽️, I’m not here to score the goal, but to provide the assist to the team.
A.C.: You were initially an Android developer, you seem to have chosen a different career path now, why is that? Do you still develop mobile apps on the side?
G.G.: Haha, indeed, I’ve interned in an IT Lab in Ireland to develop a mobile app that has never been used!
Then I joined a consulting firm specialized in change management, our clients needed to digitize their internal processes, and my tech background was very useful in these projects.
A.C.: What made you decide to join the ‘startup world’, back in 2016? What surprised you the most?
G.G.: I remember this very well. Summer 2016. I had been living in Paris for a year. I needed to go to the dentist, and had seen a billboard in the tube promoting Mondocteur.fr. I had never heard of such a service before, so I tried it, and booked an appointment at a dentist whose clinic was actually right in the building where I lived!
I loved the experience, and was already thinking about switching jobs, so I checked MonDocteur.fr job board. They had an opening for a position around ‘data/tech/ops’, and ‘voilà’.
I did not have a precise idea of what ‘startup life’ was, but I knew I was hungry for a steeper learning curve, exposure to more projects, and that startups could be the right environment for that.
A.C.: In 2018 you were working at MonDocteur (150 employees), which was acquired by Doctolib. How did it impact your job? How was post-merger management like?
G.G.: When Doctolib acquired MonDocteur mid 2018, Doctolib had 350 employees, and MonDocteur had 150.
At the end of 2020, Doctolib counted 1500 employees. It’s been a wild ride!
At Doctolib, my first 6 months were dedicated to supporting the migration of MonDocteur’s customers to Doctolib.
Then, I took the merger as the opportunity to redefine my job, I knew I wanted to be in a role that involved more ‘statistics’ and closer to Strategy, so I’ve joined the Operations Strategy team.
I think this team was key in scaling Doctolib.
To be honest, the projects we led were not always the sexiest, but they brought high impact, and that’s what drove us.
For instance, transitioning the organization from ‘each team uses her own google spreadsheet in an ad hoc way’ to a more normalized process, across the company, was a big part of our job.
Otherwise, you don’t even have trusted data to analyze, and to make strategic decisions. Redefining how data was collected, communicated, or monitored to support growth and satisfaction was a constant effort!
A.C.: I’m quite intrigued by your role at Doctolib. Can you give an example of a project you’ve worked on?
G.G.: My team’s role was to identify support Doctolib's growth by defining the right internal organization of Operations teams and supporting it with the right processes, operational tooling and reporting. This was mostly supported by data analysis, allowing us to understand each segment of our clients: dentists vs paramedics vs general practitioners for instance. They could use Doctolib for different goals: attract new patients, achieve better work-life balance, etc.
The Customer Care team being the heart of the Ops teams and representing the voice of the customer, we ensured the whole company kept a pulse on our clients.
A.C.: I’m also curious about Doctolib switch to ‘self-service’. Doctolib acquisition strategy has been very ‘sales rep’ intensive in the first years, and now that the brand is widely recognized in France, I know they have been working on ‘self-service’: having doctors signing up by themselves, online.
How did it translate about toolings, and tracked KPIs?
G.G.: This switch to self-service has happened in the context of the pandemic, that accelerated the launch of our teleconsultation service.
We had been working a lot on understanding our data, training teams to adopt a data-driven approach (tooling in itself is not enough) before the pandemic, so this helped us respond to the surge in demand in an efficient way.
The main point has been to make sure new users (e.g., doctors, paramedics) could be brought up to speed without dedicated 1-1 in-person training. We had to streamline the onboarding process, produce relevant content and distribute it at the right moment and in the best format to the users, in an automated way.
What’s key is to make sure your product usage data is connected to your ‘marketing’ tools and your CRM. It seems obvious, but people often underestimate the required efforts to get there. The product usage data is often in the back-end or in a production database. Therefore, making it available, re-model it in the right format so that non-technical teams (i.e., Marketing/Growth, Customer Success, Sales) can take actions on it, requires quite a bit of work!
A.C.: Also, Doctolib is known to be using Salesforce extensively. What piece of advice would you give to startups thinking about implementing Salesforce?
G.G.: I’d say: ‘Do you implement Salesforce because everyone’s doing it or are there specific reasons?’
I think Salesforce requires a lot of resources (including Salesforce developers), so it’s important to make sure you’ve identified:
The business pain points that Salesforce solves (and why you can’t do it with your current tools)
The business outcome: and how to measure it. What’s the KPI that would mean the implementation of Salesforce is a success?
A.C.: Would you have any tips for non-techs willing to learn more about data? Not to become a data scientist, but to be better at their job, whether it is as a Growth, Ops, or Sales manager?
G.G.: I would tell them to learn basic SQL skills, they might not use it to perform advanced SQL queries by themselves but it’s very useful to have more efficient discussions with BI analysts.
Beginners most common error is that they try learning SQL by doing 2 things at the same time:
1/ Learn the basics of SQL language (syntax, etc)
2/ Get a grasp of how data is organized within their own company: understanding that there’s a table for ‘product usage’, one for ‘users’, how they can be joined together…
I think they should learn theory first, with very simple examples, before diving into the complexity of how data is structured within their company.
A.C.: According to you, what’s the main misconception non-techs have about data?
G.G.: Sometimes people believe data can answer any question.
I’d rather think it’s a constant trade-off between the time spent carving data and its impact: is the time spent on an analysis worth it? If we spend three more hours to do an analysis, will the decision we make based on the analysis be much better?
At what point is data clean and relevant enough to make a decision?
It’s not black or white, it’s a balance to find according to context.
A.C.: Last question
You joined Pennylane a few months ago, which is one of the rising French fintechs. What is Pennylane about and what’s your role there?
G.G.: Pennylane is a QuickBooks for Europe, if I have to pitch it in a few words :) I’ve joined Pennylane as a Product Manager.
I had never had the ‘Product Manager’ title before, but my role is very closely related to what I’ve done at Doctolib: investigating users’ needs, prioritizing them, leading projects at the crossroads of business and tech.
I’m working on Pennylane accounting product, but I’m also working on internal projects. One of them is segmentation, for instance, triggering marketing automation campaigns, according to specific user traits (e.g., industry, size).
By the way, we’re already a team of more than 100 employees at Pennylane, but we’re looking for talented people to join us, especially in the Product and Data team :)
Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if this interview inspired you!
Want to go further?
Learn SQL on Udemy with Raffi Sarkissian (co-founder of Lago), reach out to me and we’ll hand you a voucher so that you can take the course for free.
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