Women in E-Commerce
Women tend to be underrepresented in top leadership positions in technology. According to a recent article in Inc., women fill just 8 percent of the leadership roles in technology startup companies. That's a small number. However, what's fascinating to me is that the women who do fill C-suite roles in technology tend to gravitate toward e-commerce.
From Fab.com's COO Beth Ferreira to the women who founded Birchbox (Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp) to Gilt's CEO Michelle Peluso, more and more women are rising to top leadership positions in e-commerce. Coincidence? I don't think so. In fact, I think there are several reasons why many female executives find their niche in e-commerce.
Although I want to be careful to avoid overgeneralizing female executives or implying that all women should aspire to possess the same leadership traits, many of the most successful female e-commerce execs seem to share at least two important qualities — they're detail oriented and have practical sensibility.
Detail oriented: It's fairly common for emerging women leaders in e-commerce to come from the world of finance. My experience in finance played an important role in preparing me for my time at Dotcom Distribution because both finance and e-commerce require detail-oriented leadership characteristics.
There isn't anything about e-commerce that makes it a more acceptable or appropriate career trajectory for women leaders. However, I do think that women leaders are more apt to focus on the details than men, and that contributes to their success in operations and other opportunities in e-commerce.
For example, Cheriqui Naidas-Yanogacio is the head of Dotcom Distribution's client relations team. Her job requires her to be immersed in the operation at all levels and to be in touch with the nuts and bolts of our operation on a daily basis. Could a man do her job? Sure. But the reason Cheriqui is so successful is that she brings a strong attention to detail to the role.
Practical sensibility: At the risk of offending some of the truly great male leaders in e-commerce, being an e-commerce manager is a lot like being a mom. It's not that e-commerce teams are comprised of people who act like children, but that female leaders are often skilled at coordinating diverse teams and making sure that everyone is pulling in the same direction.
Although it's an admittedly gross generalization, women are more patient when it comes to listening to the thoughts and opinions of others in an organization. In some cases, their empathy and ability to listen enables women to discover information that wouldn't normally be uncovered — an advantage that's clearly contributed to the success of many women in top e-commerce positions.
Finally, it's important to note that e-commerce offers abundant opportunities for both men and women. In the third-party logistics field, career-minded individuals have the chance to see some of the world's most successful retail operations in action. Whether they're working on the fulfillment side or in some other aspect of the industry, many rising female leaders are attracted to e-commerce simply because it's an energetic field with opportunities for professional growth and development.
Maria is CEO and co-founder of Dotcom Distribution, where she has played an integral role in developing and defining all aspects of the operation, including sales and marketing, operations, finance and IT. Her strategic leadership helps the Board and senior management to establish long-range goals, strategies, plans, and policies. Maria has developed the systemic and procedural infrastructure necessary to provide timely and accurate analysis of budgets, financial reports and financial trends in order to assist the Board, senior executives and clients in performing their responsibilities. Maria holds a CPA. Prior to founding Dotcom, she began her career as an Auditor at Arthur Andersen and was the CFO of GoodTimes Home Video.