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Leadership lessons from StarTrack’s women in e-commerce breakfast

Last week StarTrack hosted a breakfast and panel discussion celebrating women in e-commerce. Here are Internet Retailing’s top takeaways from the event…

Ditch the jargon
Faye Ilhan, chief digital officer at Dan Murphy’s, noted that during a period of digital transformation it is the responsibility of the digital team to take everyone else in the organisation on that journey with them. Digital executives must have the interpersonal skills to demystify and simplify concepts for their counterparts across the company.

“If you are a fan of talking jargon so you can impress everyone with how clever you are in this industry — forget it. Because they [your colleagues] won’t get you and hence they won’t support you in the changes you need to do,” Ilhan warned.

“When you are in a large organisation where digital or e-commerce came afterwards, the mindset change that needs to happen in that organisation is the most critical, critical thing that needs to happen to achieve success.” 

As your business grows, stop trying to do everything
“The key thing that I have learnt in the last year is around knowing exactly what I am required to do as a CEO,” said Sarah Timmerman, founder of Beginning Boutique.

“It means knowing exactly what I am responsible for, what I get highest reward for at work and, what my team needs me to do. I can pack packages all day long and I love it, I love writing postcards, I love being in the showroom, the stockroom, the shoot room — it’s all fantastic. But that’s not my job and I need to act like a leader and I need to push the company forward to another level.”  

Master the art of the pivot
Melody Townsend began Active Creatures with her husband in early 2014, manufacturing and selling dance and yoga clothing. The brand sells online via its website, eBay and Amazon in the US. It also has a reseller network in Australia, Europe and US. Having survived the initial start-up stage, Townsend is now focused on scaling the business. 

“I think it is really important to keep pivoting and not to get too precious or locked onto what I said I was going to do in the beginning if it is not working. You’ve got to keep moving,” she says.    

Support your team
Carly Cazzolli, country manager for ASOS, leads a team of eight locally within a much larger international organisation.

“You have to be in a good mood when you come into work, you have to smile good morning because it has such a strong effect on the rest of the team… Working with the UK we will often find ourselves in the office at 9 o’clock at night on calls etcetera, but we make sure prior to that we are sitting down for a family dinner,” Cazzolli said.  

Another key point Cazzolli raised was the importance of clarity and transparency within a team.

“Leadership is all about providing clear guidance and structure. Last week we had a team planning session and as team we agree what are our tactics for the next six months, so we’ve got very clear visibility… Everyone is very clear in terms of where our focus is going to be and there’s not that ambiguity. We all sign off on it and we go for it.” 

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