4 Lessons I Wish I Knew Earlier in My Career as a Woman in eCommerce
As part of Contentsquare’s first-ever global Women in eCommerce event, I wanted to share some lessons and advice I’ve picked up from working in the digital industry for the last 15 years. Not only has a lot has changed in the space since I joined, but I’ve also grown a lot as an individual during this time as well. When I reflect back on the last decade and a half, I realize there is so much I would love to share with a younger version of myself. Unfortunately, I don’t have the ability to go back in time and tell her everything I now know, but I can share it with all of you.
To give you some context into who I am, my name is Malvina Courouble-Or and I am a mother of twin boys, the wife of a Cambodian man, and the International eBusiness & Digital Experience Manager at Van Cleef & Arpels. Van Cleef & Arpels is a French high-end jewelry, watch, and perfume company and has been my home for the last 10 years.
I feel lucky to work at Van Clef & Arpels because it’s a predominantly female-run company. Seventy percent of our employees and almost half of our executive committee members are women. It’s really inspiring to have so many women to look up to in top executive leadership positions and I feel the company does a good job of supporting female employees. I was even promoted while I was pregnant, which I know might not be the case if I worked at a different company. Even after giving birth to my twin boys, the company and my boss supported me and made certain that I felt comfortable returning to work.
While today I’m very happy with my job, my work, and my life, I did not always have this level of comfort and balance. When I was younger, I held myself to an incredibly high standard and was always trying to do more to prove myself. While I have my ambition and drive to thank for getting me to where I am today, there are some lessons and learnings I have picked up along the way that I wish I would have learned earlier.
1. Don’t Doubt Yourself
Don’t hold yourself back, that only makes it harder for you to be successful. It’s easy to focus on your limitations and the qualities or skills you don’t have, but that type of thinking will get you nowhere. You need to shift your mindset and instead focus on how you want to progress and what you can do to reach your goals. According to McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2019 report, “Women are often hired and promoted based on past accomplishments while men may be hired and promoted based on future potential.”
As women, we need to be advocates for ourselves. We need to know and believe in the value that we bring to a company, to a team, and to a role. Acknowledging your strengths will help you seize opportunities that bring you closer to where you want to be.
I wish someone had said this to me early on in my career because I was using so much energy and effort focusing on what I couldn’t do and not enough time focusing on what I could. Once I shifted my mindset, I was able to take control of my future.
2. Invest in Your Skills
Whether you’re just starting out in your career or are an established leader, you must continue to learn. It will make you a better employee, manager, and individual. For the last few years, I’ve tried to focus on what I can do to improve my existing skills and learn new ones, especially when it comes to managing my team better.
Early on in my career, I felt bad for having ambition and for wanting more in my career. As I mentioned above, you should always push and advocate for yourself. And never, ever feel bad for having ambition. There’s a quote from Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook on her distaste for the word “bossy” that I really like.
“This isn’t a word we should use. Let’s start encouraging girls to lead.” — Sheryl Sandberg
We shouldn’t tell a woman they are bossy, we should tell them they possess leadership skills. Now, I don’t feel bad about having ambition. I just want to be a better version of myself and that ends up benefiting everyone around me.
3. Learn from Others
Everyone needs someone to talk to and turn to for feedback, career guidance, and advice — and this is especially important in the digital space. Our industry is constantly evolving and has changed so much in the last 15 years alone. It’s so helpful to have someone, either in your organization or outside, you can go to with questions or to get advice from and brainstorm new ideas with. This can help you be a better eCommerce professional.
It’s also important to have a mentor to help you with your professional development and career advice. I wish I had more people to look up to early on in my career, whether for their confidence, expertise, job, etc. You need someone who can help you ask for a raise, a promotion, practice a pitch, etc. — someone who pushes you to advocate for yourself and fight for what you deserve in your career.
4. Take Care of Yourself
You can’t pour from an empty cup—take care of yourself first! There were a few years during my career when I wasn’t in the best place. I was overwhelmed by all the things I had to do and how I didn’t have enough time to get everything done. I was exhausted and burnt out at work and it found its way into my personal life too. I was the first person to make excuses and cancel on spending time with friends and family. That’s when I realized I needed to reconsider how to use my time and how to carve out time for myself.
I think many women in the workforce ask themselves this big question, “How can I find the right balance between work and personal life?” For me, it’s prioritizing “me time.” For me, carving out time in my day to invest in myself, spend time with my family, and learn are what inspire me to keep going and to keep growing.
When I was younger, I viewed my emotions as a weakness. It took me years to learn to never be embarrassed about how I feel. Embrace your emotions. They mean you are passionate about what you do and engaged in your work. No one can take that away from you.
This is an excerpt from our first virtual global Women in eCommerce event on August 21, 2020.
To stay up to date on upcoming Contentsquare Women in eCommerce events, follow the Women in eCommerce LinkedIn Page. Or, to watch the full recording of this session and view other sessions featuring Kathy Ando of Tile, Alexandra Popova of Adidas, and Constantine Gavrykov of Intersport, click here.