Expert Advice from Women in Ecommerce (Part Two)

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are rounding up the advice and stories from tech women in ecommerce. We surveyed leaders in this space and asked them to share their advice for other women in the industry.

In Part Two of this series, we’ll introduce you to five more notable women in e-commerce. We interviewed them to learn more about their careers, mentorship, and proudest achievements.

Ashlee Colliver, Senior eCommerce Strategist at Classy Llama

Ashlee works at Digital Commerce Agency, Classy Llama and wears a lot of hats. She leads their digital marketing practice, works as an SME in sales efforts for marketing and eCommerce strategy, leads their technical SEO practice, and serves as a consultant on the projects that come in that don’t quite fit into a “standard” project.

What do you love most about your job?

I love connecting seemingly disparate points of data and pieces of information together to solve problems and find opportunities. I love working on the odd-shaped projects that don’t seem to fit neatly into a nice little box of step-by-step processes. And I love getting to collaborate with some of the most brilliant minds in the industry right here at Classy Llama.

Tell us about a technical project you completed or contributed to that you are proud of.

I am proud of a lot of the work that my team and I get to do. One area I am most proud of is building the technical SEO practice at Classy Llama. A few years ago no one was looking at how critical technical SEO is when building and launching a new site. So many eCommerce businesses see organic traffic and revenue as #1, and it was sort of an industry standard for that to tank in a site launch. I developed a hypothesis on how to fix this, and Classy Llama trusted me to build it out and begin following those techniques in our site builds; long before it was proven or there was any research to support it. It’s been amazing to see the results over the last few years of those efforts.

What advice would you give to others looking to work in this industry?

Never stop learning. Never stop seeking information about the industry. It changes so frequently, and there are so many people innovating, no one will ever know it all, or know “enough”. That presents amazing opportunities for all of us so embrace it!

Neela R., Software Engineer at DCKAP

Neela has been working as a BigCommerce developer at DCKAP for nearly 3 years. Her work entails building profitable online stores for both B2B and B2C clients. In the past year, her focus has been building an application to provide quick search functionality to BigCommerce clients.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

In a field like ours, persistence and patience are two things that have been propagated to me by my seniors constantly. Also, very early on, my mentor had told me that “There is no end for learning, so learn whenever, wherever and whatever you can… With this, you would increase your knowledge and also help and motivate others to learn.” This is something I abide by every single day at work and even otherwise.

What advice would you give to others looking to work in this industry?

The one thing that I would like to tell others is to understand the customer’s business to the core and analyze their requirements. Conventionally, tech resources concern themselves only with the technical part of it. But, when it comes to a project, it is important for everybody right from the business analysts to specialists to developers to actually grasp the client's business, their expected outcome and what they require from the project. Only after this process, can your project be successful in all aspects.

Learn and align yourself with business functionalities in order to make the concerned project a success. Tech is evolving every day, therefore it is crucial to keep updating your skills not only on a technical level but also sync them at a managerial level to achieve more quality!

Tell us about a career milestone or achievement that you are proud of.

I feel my biggest achievement lies in the fact that I make a customer’s work easier. I am one of the catalysts for making them do things they weren’t able to do before!

How have you seen the role of women in tech change or evolve over the years?

Well, the biggest change that I have seen this year is that our industry has many women who are embracing their true calling. Technology is not just a career option anymore, for a lot of people. It is a passion turned into a profession. The only disheartening part is that even now, with so much awareness; the conversion rate of women who study tech and make it a career is still quite low! But, we have hope…and many young women like me are slowly moving towards making that conversion rate higher!

Laurie Fumarolo, Senior Front-End Developer at AmericanEagle.com

Laurie works at AmericanEagle.com. She works on BigCommerce projects for a variety of clients — building new custom themes, troubleshooting issues, architecting solutions, code reviews, and mentoring other team members.

What do you love most about your job?

The variety of clients I work with as well as architecting solutions.

Tell us about a technical project you completed or contributed to that you are proud of.

I developed a BigCommerce site for Berlin Packaging that was completely custom. Among many things, they needed a special set up for their product details pages that could hide and show different product options.

Tell us about a career milestone or achievement that you are proud of.

Working my way to being one of the top developers on my team and being trusted to work with clients on solutions are definitely things I’m proud of.

What advice would you give to others looking to work in this industry?

Don’t be afraid to speak up. Too many times I’ve held back on an idea and been told later I should have said something.

Kimberly Sheamon, eCommerce Lead Developer at Blue Fountain Media

Kimberly works at Blue Fountain Media. There, her time is split between back-end development and solutions architecture. Some days she’ll be working with their technical team to identify the best platforms and integrations to help our clients achieve their business goals, and other days she’s in the trenches writing the code that makes it happen.

What do you love most about your job?

Being able to leave a fingerprint on sites and software that are so widely seen and used.

Tell us about a career milestone or achievement that you are proud of.

Last year my role was shifted from strictly development to a practice lead/technical architect role and that was really huge for me. To have your work and credibility acknowledged, respected, and be given that extra responsibility speaks volumes.

What’s it like for you to be a woman working in a male-dominated industry?

I love a good challenge, so I never view my position as anything but that. I’ve been blessed with amazing coworkers who have never once made me feel inferior for being a woman. There’s mutual respect among us, so it gives me a great sense of pride in knowing that they see me as an equal and I’m helping to break down the stigma of what it means to work in a “man’s world”.

Have you had a mentor in your career?

I do have a mentor, though she doesn’t know it. I don’t usually tell the people I look up to that I do so.

I always find people in my life that have admirable qualities and use that as a guide for how and where I want to be. I’m very fortunate to work alongside some of the strongest women I’ve ever met, so there’s certainly no shortage of career goals around me.

A few ladies come to mind immediately, but there’s a clear top choice. She’s someone I look up to both personally and professionally and have seen absolutely crush it and shatter the glass ceiling the past few years. For me, it’s really a game-changer to have because it gives a tangibility to your goals and provides such great energy to feed off.

What advice would you give to others looking to work in this industry?

Don’t let anything dissuade you from going for it. The tech industry can be challenging and intimidating, especially for women, but it’s also immensely rewarding. Sometimes you need to take a leap of faith and trust that you’ll land on your feet.

Can you recommend any resources that would be helpful to others in the industry?

Women Who Code is a great resource for career tips, networking, and staying up to date on the latest tech trends. https://www.womenwhocode.com/

I also attend the Women Impact Tech conference every year and it’s a wonderful opportunity to meet and hear from some of the brightest women in the field.

Ashley Jaynes, Web Developer at Mercutio

Ashley works at the Seattle based digital agency, Mercutio. Mercutio is a full-service provider that offers everything from content gathering and site configuration to data migration and theme development. We build custom solutions for clients with special business needs.

At Mercutio, Ashley spends her time on theme development and most recently, she’s been building custom solutions with React.

How did you get your start in tech?

I enrolled in the graphic design program at my university. One of the required class for this program was “Designing for the Web.” I learned then that I loved the instant gratification of making a change to some code and seeing it change immediately on my screen. No waiting for proofs and whatnot. I immediately changed my major into a new program with the plan to be a web designer. After a few years of realizing that ambition, I decided I was a better frontend developer than a designer.

What do you love most about your job?

Solving new and interesting problems.

Tell us about a technical project you completed that you were proud of.

I just created a custom bulk order form that uses the search API. It was a pain sometimes, but now that it’s finished and the bugs are worked out (hopefully), I’m really happy with the way it turned out.

Tell us about a career milestone or achievement that you are proud of.

For 4 years, I was the lead developer at a trailer manufacturer. During that time, I got to mentor two inexperienced guys. One was straight out of college and one was self-taught. I was able to help them learn a lot about how to build and manage websites, the principles of development, and best practices. They learned so well that they were able to get better, higher-paying jobs. Helping them remains the proudest moment in my career.

What’s it like for you to be a woman working in a male-dominated industry?

I think sometimes people assume that women are not as knowledgeable as men in this field. Mostly, it seems to be a subconscious thing. In the last 5 years or so, there seems to be a lot more women joining the industry. In the last 2 years, I’ve worked under 2 senior developers who were women. That’s a big change from when I started working 10+ years ago.

Have you had a mentor in your career? How was that experience helpful?

I have had one mentor and she was female. She taught me how to network better and how to speak up more than I had previously. This helps me to have better connections with people in this industry that will help my career grow. Additionally, I now make sure my voice is heard.

What advice would you give to others looking to work in this industry?

It is the industry to be in. Technology is exciting and forever growing and changing. We know what we do today might be completely different in the next 5 years. If you are the type of person who is excited and passionate to see how far eCommerce can take us, this is the industry for you.

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