Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder and CEO of Care​.com, opened her keynote address at Northeastern’s CEO Break­fast Forum on Wednesday morning by describing a frantic phone call she received when her par­ents were vis­iting Boston from the Philip­pines and babysit­ting her son: Her father had fallen down the stairs while car­rying the child.

Her story is but one of bil­lions of family care sto­ries, she said, noting that her child and father emerged from the har­rowing ordeal in good health. “The global care crisis is stag­gering,” Marcelo explained, pointing to the growing number of births world­wide and the average household’s annual child­care costs.

Care​.com allows fam­i­lies to con­nect with mil­lions of care­givers to manage the chal­lenges they face, including child­care, pet care, and care for seniors. Those resources also include house­keeping, tutoring, and even taxes. Marcelo founded the com­pany in 2006, and it is now the largest online care des­ti­na­tion in the world with 7 mil­lion mem­bers in 16 countries.

She was the latest speaker at Northeastern’s series of CEO Break­fast Forums. Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun hosts the events, where leading CEOs share their exper­tise to audi­ences of other CEOs and senior exec­u­tives from the Greater Boston area.

Throughout her keynote, Marcelo touched on what she con­siders crit­ical com­po­nents of building a suc­cessful brand: authen­ticity, hiring and devel­oping strong teams of employees, a long-​​term busi­ness out­look, and pro­viding an excep­tional con­sumer expe­ri­ence. But ulti­mately brands are about people, she said, and the sto­ries behind those people.

Who builds prod­ucts? Who delivers ser­vices? People do,” Marcelo said. “We get so busy with things like spread­sheets and prof­itability, but at the core of building brands is our employees, our cul­ture, and our values.”

Marcelo used sev­eral pow­erful exam­ples to high­light strate­gies that result in effec­tive brand building. To empha­size the impor­tance of team building, she recalled a scene in Glad­i­ator, one of her favorite movies, when slaves are forced to defend them­selves in the Roman Colos­seum. The slaves’ leader, Max­imus, says they only way they’ll sur­vive is by sticking together.

That image is etched in my head,” said Marcelo, who joked that her two sons might describe her as “a little intense.”

She also described her view of how Care​.com strives for excel­lence. “We’re not a com­pany that requires per­fec­tion; it’s about high stan­dards,” she said. “It’s about testing, iter­ating, evolving, and learning. In our field, six months is a long time, so you have to be able to pivot quickly.”

Marcelo has received con­sid­er­able recog­ni­tion and many awards for her work. In 2012, she was named one of the “10 Most Pow­erful Women in Boston Tech” by The Boston Globe’s “Inno­va­tion Economy”; a “Tech Lumi­nary Inno­va­tion All-​​Star” by the Boston Busi­ness Journal; and one of the “100 Most Intriguing Entre­pre­neurs” for the Goldman Sachs’ Builders and Inno­va­tors Summit.

In his opening remarks, Pres­i­dent Aoun called Marcelo a “great entre­pre­neur” and praised her efforts to launch Care​.com. He noted that Northeastern’s entre­pre­neurial spirit is flour­ishing on campus, pointing to IDEA, the student-​​run ven­ture accel­er­ator, and Northeastern’s expe­ri­en­tial edu­ca­tion pro­grams for stu­dents that include study abroad, co-​​op, and research on all seven con­ti­nents and in 92 countries—a 130 per­cent increase since 2006.

We want our entre­pre­neurs to suc­ceed but also learn from their mis­takes,” Aoun said.

Fol­lowing the talk, Marcelo fielded ques­tions on a range of topics. One ques­tion related to ways in which older exec­u­tives could effec­tively manage “mil­len­nial” hires from Gen­er­a­tion Y. Marcelo responded by explaining that the workforce’s newest gen­er­a­tion is enthu­si­astic and mobile, which serve as strong traits but can some­times lead to impa­tience. As a result, she said it’s impor­tant to not only pro­vide men­toring and sup­port to create teach­able moments, but also encourage them to explore their pro­fes­sional goals and passions.

The final ques­tion came from Aoun, who noted Care.com’s global pres­ence and then asked Marcelo how the com­pany adapts to the cul­tural dif­fer­ences in the coun­tries where it does busi­ness. In response, Marcelo high­lighted the impor­tance of quickly iden­ti­fying the nat­ural needs of each market. For instance, interest in pet care and house­keeping ser­vices are booming in the U.K. and in other areas of Europe, she said.

It varies by industry, but it’s uni­versal,” Marcelo said. “Care has to be pro­vided beyond bound­aries. We’re such a mobile cul­ture now.”