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Women in Ecommerce Recap: Advice for Career and Team Success from Women in 2020

Plotting a path to success in eCommerce should never be done alone. Everyone can benefit from working with peers, mentors, and employees to help grow their careers and their business. This is especially true when considering the unique challenges women encounter in the world of eCommerce.

Forging relationships with other women and other forward-thinking companies in the industry provides a strong support network to empower women across the eCommerce landscape in a rapidly changing and evolving world. Pacvue President & Co-Founder, Melissa Burdick, has experienced the benefits of connecting with other women in eCommerce first-hand throughout her career, and happily, one of these strong relationships is with Kerry Curran, Managing Partner at Catalyst.

Naturally, Kerry and Melissa wanted to provide a platform for other women in the industry to come together and share their experiences. Recently, Pacvue and Catalyst co-hosted a “Women in Ecommerce” virtual event to provide a space for conversations and create a community. Here are some of the most important takeaways from the event:

Plotting a Path to Success in Ecommerce

In the first panel discussion, Kerry brought together several female leaders to share their career journeys, words of wisdom, and insights into building a personal brand in an always-evolving industry.

No Clear Path to Success

One of the main points discussed was, due to the ever-changing nature of the eCommerce landscape, there is no one clear path. This is true for companies looking to make the most of their eCommerce strategies but also for women looking to forge a new path in their career.  

According to Kris McDermott, Director of Shopper Marketing at Kimberly-Clark, “Everything we do is new. I think that’s a really good thing. Anyone who hears that and thinks that’s a bad thing probably shouldn’t be in this field. The people who want a very clear role and very black-and-white ‘this is how you succeed here’ probably won’t like the jobs we have. You have to be a doer in this world more than any other thing I’ve ever seen.”

This fast moving, experimental industry means you need to be willing to take risks and respond to changes as they come. Joana McKenna, President of Walker Edison, explains, “Part of being successful in a world that’s changing so quickly when it comes to eCommerce - when customers change how they want items to be shipped, where they want to buy it, where they want to live, and how they want to communicate - you need to be willing to be agile and change as well.”

While some women and team members thrive in this constantly changing and challenging environment, it can prove to be a difficult test for others, especially during a year as tumultuous as 2020. Kristina Smith, Senior Director of Digital Marketing at TRX Training talked about the importance of managing your team through this change by providing them with the context necessary to do their jobs and being cognizant of what employees need. Taking some time for humanity and addressing the confusing, scary times we are living in is important. Help your team members understand change, take time to adapt, and move towards solutions.

Importance of Female Leadership

This need for greater emotional intelligence is one aspect highlighting the benefits of female leadership. While she admits empathy can and should come from any strong leader, Kristina shares that with the “female senior leaders I’ve encountered, I’ve found a level of humanity and humility in their leadership style that makes for a much more collaborative and open approach.”

Pacvue’s Melissa Burdick shares some advice on how to address the relative lack of female leadership in eCommerce and how to find role models in the industry. Women in eCommerce should look towards other women who have blazed their path to see how they got there. “Nobody is going to take your hand and lead you to your next role,” Melissa said, “you need to take control of your career and make it happen.”

Making the Most of 2020: Balancing it All in the COVID-era

In the second panel of the event, Melissa led a group of women discussing the challenges of the year, including how COVID-19 has affected the eCommerce job market and how to keep teams motivated in the work-from-home era.  

Changing Jobs and Networking During COVID-19

Several of the women on the panel were able to share experiences changing jobs during COVID-19. This presented the unique challenges of networking remotely and joining a company culture at a time when forging personal connections with work colleagues is more difficult than ever.

Tanuja Singeetham, who became Head of Digital Marketing at Henkel Beauty Care Professional this year, shared some important insights about maintaining a positive mindset during the job search and staying connected with your network. As she said, “there are a lot of opportunities out there, even if there are a lot of people looking for jobs at the moment.”

When looking for these opportunities, don’t be afraid to apply to jobs where you may not check off everything in their requirements. This is something women in particular struggle with. Andra Richardson, who recently joined the Catalyst team as their Digital Commerce Manager, shared that she reached the final stages of a number of interview processes for jobs she did not meet all the requirements for. She shared, “I worked harder than I ever have because I knew there was a good opportunity. Don’t give up. Work hard.”

Keeping Teams Motivated During COVID-19

Even for those working securely throughout 2020, maintaining motivation for yourself and your team is a challenge. Without the ability to see people face-to-face and with the constant uncertainty, it can be difficult to ensure your team is motivated and on task.

Lex Josephs, VP of Sales and Media Partnerships at Walmart Media Group, shared the importance of making more time to be connected. Her weekly and monthly meetings with direct reports include time to feel energy from afar and have fun (including her Zoom dance parties).

“Understand what your purpose is that week and try to sum up a lesson so it keeps you going.“  

The fact is, everyone’s lives have changed significantly this year. Making sure you are checking in with your team to see how those changes have affected their needs is key. Taryn Beck, Shopper and eCommerce Marketing Lead at General Mills, shared that “it’s really about focusing and listening to your teams, not just as a whole but really amping up that listening at the individual level to understand that what they need now, intrinsically, is a lot different than what they needed 9-10 months ago.”

For more great advice from female leaders in the eCommerce space, check out the full Women in Ecommerce event recording or download this report with more tips and tricks for success.

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