29 year-old Staci Scott, e-Commerce Product Manager at The Warehouse Group, is fast becoming one to watch on the New Zealand tech scene. Recently named a finalist in the Emerging ICT Leader category in the New Zealand CIO Awards, and named The Warehouse Group Digital Team Member of the Year for 2017, Staci is a rising star. Ahead of Tech Week we talked to Staci about her role and her secrets for success.
Tell us about your role at The Warehouse Group?
My role as Product Manager for the TWL & WSL Ecommerce Team is a three way intersect between the customer, the business and the technology. My key responsibilities involve researching competitors and industry trends, regularly speaking with customers and taking feedback on pain points and areas of growth, working with key stakeholders to make sure the Ecommerce platforms are meeting KPIs, and shaping a strategic Roadmap for the sites which will ultimately deliver value to our customers and help cement our position as the leading digital retail group in New Zealand.
Much has been made of the country’s search for a ‘Chief Technology Officer’. If you were appointed CTO, what would you do to make New Zealand a more prosperous country?
While it’s commonly touted to “test and learn” and “fail fast”, in New Zealand a lot of businesses cannot afford the luxury of failing. The budgets simply are simply not there to make any mistakes. This stifles innovation and prevents businesses from trying new tech, new processes and new solutions, in turn putting themselves at risk as the international market leads the charge in disruption.
As CTO I would develop ‘labs’ to enable local businesses to learn about, access and trial tech in a financially risk-adverse way. We’d also focus on building an affordable talent pool, facilitating customer insights, forming strategic partnerships between businesses, and providing research, analysis and education into the New Zealand market.
By understanding how ideas can be tested and validated without sending software or hardware to market, and by encouraging businesses to strengthen through forming alliances and sharing costs, I believe more local businesses can become true disruptors and make big step changes in their results.
There is no shortage of truly innovative ideas here in New Zealand, but we must be more resourceful in enabling the testing and learning from these ideas in order to meet customer expectations, and keep up with a rapidly-changing landscape.
Tech is still an industry dominated by men. Why do you think this is and do you have any advice for women wanting to make their mark in the digital and ICT functions?
In the past there has typically been a lot more men in development and engineering roles – however with the emergence of customer-led design work in the digital space, there is now more of a blend of tech and business, and plenty more roles that enable people to work in tech without a specialist engineering background.
A small amount of technical know-how can go a long way in some of these roles. I would suggest anyone interested in this space pick up some papers when studying (some of mine were InfoSys, Statistics, Economics of Ecommerce). You can also consider online training (for example, Google Analytics Academy is free and extremely useful for understanding analytics and forming insights), or simply sit with friends or colleagues who are experts in their field and pick their brains on some of the basics.
There are also tonnes of blogs, Podcasts and articles out there that cover off basics in various tech related realms (for example, Podcasts helped me to begin to understand the basic concepts of Blockchain – something I struggled to engage with from reading articles alone).
Tell us about yourself – what keeps you busy outside of work?
My main activity outside of work is CrossFit – I belong to an awesome gym (or ‘box’ as the lingo goes) called CrossFit Quattro that I have been training at for over five years. I train five times a week in the morning, coach one class a week (mainly working with newer female athletes), and compete around 3-5 times each year (injuries allowing!)
Share your favourite inspirational business quote or piece of advice.
“Strong convictions, loosely held” (Marc Andreessen). To me this sums up the mindset for working in the digital space – you should be strong and passionate in your beliefs and direction (as long as you can back these up!) while still being able to flex and pivot in new directions as it’s needed, or as new evidence comes to light. Being open and receptive to change is critical in an industry where things change daily – there is always a new or better way to try something.