Making her mark in a male dominated industry, Nikki Lambert, 36, helped to launch Spotify and is now VP of Marketing at music tech company MelodyVR. Here, she shares her story with Belle About Town and discusses what drives her…
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
It was either a PE teacher or a solicitor. The former because I was one of those kids who enjoyed sport at school (sorry!) the latter because I felt like I wanted to help people to overcome injustice (or rather, just wanted to be Ally McBeal).
What are you most proud of?
Leaving school aged 16 and it not holding me back – in fact quite the opposite. Professionally a couple of things which stand out are, age 23 being sent to Mumbai to help create and launch the first ever Virgin branded company in India. I’d never been to the country before and had never launched a consumer brand before, let alone one with as much heritage and expectation as Virgin. Then, being part of the start-up team at Spotify and seeing it grow from a ‘will streaming music ever catch on?’ to the huge success it is today. In summary, I guess i’m proud of being able to rise to pretty much any challenge!
How did you get where you are today?
By listening to and learning from people smarter than me. I’ve always been a deeply curious and rather tenatious person which in my early career opened up amazing opportunities. That, and believing in myself and pushing myself.
Who are your role models?
In addition to my family, which is full of smart, kind and compassionate people, I spent the first 10 years of my career within the Virgin business empire and can confirm first hand that Richard Branson is every bit as inspiring as his reputation suggests.
What women inspire you?
Sheryl Sandberg, for being a geek, a successful working mum, and her commitment to getting more women a seat at the power table. If you’ve not listened to her (tear jerking) Desert Island Discs you absolutely should. I also recently read ‘I am Malala’ and Malala Yousafzai is an inspiration on a whole new level.
Have you felt held back in the music industry because you’re a woman?
When I started out in my career, I was so young and hungry to prove myself that I’m not sure I really thought about it. But looking back maybe did have to work a bit harder to prove myself and push a bit more for the pay-rise. What has been most notable has been the attitudes to women in business that I’ve experiences in other cultures. I’ve spent time working in places like the Middle East, Russia, India and Japan and experiencing business culture there, as a young female is pretty fascinating and not in a good way. It really brings home the scale of the job we still have to do, to get women an equal seat at the table.
What do you love about London?
I’ve probably spent about a third of my 13 years in London travelling to other countries for work. Every time I come home I it a little bit more. It’s the history, the greenness, the culture, the diversity, the acceptance and the fact it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Where does your passion for music come from?
I come from a family of musicians so there was always a piano playing, someone singing or music blasting out of somewhere when I grew up. My passion for music is in the emotion it creates and how powerful and also personal that is, so working for organisations who want to feed and nurture that is really exciting. Thanks to Spotify, we’re listening more, exploring more and seeing more live music than ever before – it’s food for the soul! In my current role at music tech company MelodyVR I’m hugely excited to be taking that even further and looking at how future technology opens up a world of new opportunities for artists and music lovers.
How do you unwind after a busy day?
My boyfriend and I just bought and moved into a new place in Islington and right now I love just being there and exploring our new neighbourhood. Music wise, I’ve pretty diverse taste but when it comes to winding down, whenever I’m travelling back from a work trip, or up at 4am with jetlag, it’s the peaceful piano I turn too. Phillip Glass, Chilly Gonzalez, or my current favourite Max Richters Vivaldi, Four Seasons Recomposed. I listen to that, and all becomes well with the world!