Let me introduce our new e-commerce manager Viktoriya Gudym. 14 years in Tech, 5 + years Magento and retailing experience. It’s a story about an experienced specialist, successful woman and loving mother. How to combine project and wedding agency management, family affairs and leisure time? What are the main qualities of an e-commerce manager? How to manage developers efficiently? All in good time, guys. Let’s enjoy getting to know each other better.
Good morning. How are you?
Good morning. I want to sleep a little bit; one of the clients started a promotional campaign, so I had to be online to control the process, I finished the work at 2.00 a.m. Moreover, I was thinking about a morning run at 5.00 a.m. but I was too tired, so I decided to postpone it.
Could you describe your typical morning, if that’s what it takes?
Usually, I wake up at 5 a.m., then I go for a morning run till 6. 30 a.m. At 7 a.m. I cook breakfast for my family and take the kids to school. From 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. I have free time for meditation, a cup of tea, morning walk and some housework. At 9 a.m. I start working. I guess that’s all.
Pretty busy schedule. I guess I’ll learn more about management during the interview. Let’s move to the next question. During your career, you were working as a developer, support manager, quality assurance manager and now you are an e-commerce manager. What was your path?
I was in high school when I realized that I want to be a software engineer. I was the best in Computer Science and I was participating in the open championship on competitive programming where I took second place. It was high noon.
On the first year of the university, I was actively looking for a job in the Tech sphere. In my spare time, I was programming CNC machines (computer numerical control) and developing some web sites for small enterprises.
In 2010 I developed my own clothing online store. I wasn’t only its developer but the owner and marketing specialist. It helped me to realize that I can also manage the business and make it profitable, not only create stores. Besides the fact that it was my first personal success, I began to receive numerous orders to develop an online store or website. I had an individual approach to every project. My fire within was not only to build a web store or site but to meet my clients’ expectations and boost their businesses.
2014 was the year when I came across with Magento because I wanted to take things to the next level, so decided to join Magento developing company. I went all the way starting from a Developer and QA Specialist to Project Manager and Ecommerce Specialist. That’s my scene where I feel like a fish in water.
Is it possible to say that Tech is your calling?
I guess yes. I’ve always loved STEM disciplines, learning something new and innovative. There was a moment when I was studying at two universities in the same period of time. I was learning Journalistic and Software Engineering. When the time to choose the only direction had come, I wasn’t dithering between subjects. The choice was obvious.
You’re truly curious. I’m sure, you’ve made the right choice. Let’s move on. 2010 was the year when you were managing your own online store. Today is 2019. Have you defined the main qualities of an e-commerce manager throughout this time? Let’s name at least three.
A good e-commerce manager should be reliable, communicative and adaptive. I would also mention critical thinking as a key quality.
What is the most important of them or it’s impossible to define the only one?
Only a combination of these qualities will help you to become a top-notch manager. You should be communicative to cooperate with your team and vendors, adaptive to accommodate changeable market tendencies and critical thinking is important to estimate all the expenditures properly and meet the clients’ budgets.
What is the most challenging in being an e-commerce manager?
On the one hand, your goal is to “conquer” the market but on the other hand, you should reduce costs to meet the budgets. Sometimes it’s impossible to embody all your plans because of strict limitations. You should always generate more strategies and ideas which will satisfy both parties. By the way, that’s why adaptiveness and critical thinking are so crucial.
One more challenge is a work-life balance. It’s important to separate work and family. You shouldn’t bring working problems at home. If you’re a workaholic, it can be a tough challenge. Fortunately, I learned how to deal with it.
Tell us about the most interesting project you were managing or may be the most challenging one?
All my projects were interesting to some extent. I had more than 40 projects. But, I can tell you about the most challenging one. It was a jewelry web store. My team had two weeks to build a site with unique design and complex functionality. The schedule was so tight because we had to accomplish the project before the opening of a new offline store where the site presentation was supposed to take place. We had no right to mistake. I knew the best sides of every developer in my team. Nevertheless, I hold a 4-hour meeting to distribute all the tasks among them properly. Everyone got an objective according to their skills: frontend, backend, checkout, design etc. I guess it was our key to success. It helped us to reduce the number of possible mistakes and saved plenty of time. The next problem was to motivate developers. When they heard how much time we had, all of them were stating that it was impossible. Nevertheless, we finished the project one day before the official presentation. We checked every pixel, every feature and we even met the client’s budget, which was really amazing. The site was 99% ready and there weren’t any bugs. No one was betting on us, but we handled it.
I see that you are good at working with people. I checked your LinkedIn profile and found out that you were performing public speeches. What was the topic?
Yep, I am 10 years experienced public speaker. It started at the university, where I organized a “leadership school”, but it’s another story. In a few words, I was teaching students how to work in a team and achieve their potential. I think it also influenced my future career, it was a great experience.
Last year, I was presenting a report at ThinkStage’18 Kiev. I was invited there because my team which I had been working with for 5 years was comprised only of remote developers, so I was asked to share my experience with other managers. I was speaking about building a healthy climate among all the remote workers and motivating them to cooperate. Tech sphere continues to develop and thrive, sometimes it’s hard to find a developer in a certain city and numerous companies are afraid to hire remote workers because they don’t know how to control them. So that was my topic “How to Effectively Manage a Remote Team”.
Can you give us some tips on how to manage distributed teams?
- Praise remote developers regularly.
- Don’t leave them alone with their problems. Give a helping hand if there are some.
- A good manager should inspire trust and be credible. If your workers trust you, they become more frank and open-hearted. It makes the working process more predictable.
I’ve also found one more interesting fact about you in your LinkedIn profile. You have a wedding agency! How do you combine event and e-commerce management? What’s your secret?
Yes, you’re right, but I’d say that it’s not an agency but a wedding web site. It’s my hobby. I created it as I wanted to combine my hobby and my calling. My aim was to build up a place where couples could plan their ceremony and provide them with all the necessary services to make it unforgettable.
To be honest, there’s no difference for me between event and project management. The tasks and responsibilities are the same, the only difference is in specificity. There and there you make a plan, set and control realization process, give the result that meets clients’ expectations.
What about family affairs? Do management skills help you in everyday life?
I’m a mother of two, but sometimes I think that I have the third one – my husband. Like every mother, I must take care of my kids, help them with home tasks, prepare meals etc. I’ve never been on maternity leave, but I was always near my children, that’s why I decided to work remotely. How do I have time for everything? I can’t afford myself to be lazy, I always set objectives and motivate myself to move forward, I plan everything in advance and leave nothing for tomorrow.
Sounds really inspirational and motivating. Let’s add some salt to our talk. What do you dislike in your job?
I don’t like when people don’t keep their promises. Also, I hate stagnation, both professional and personal. Self-improvement is a must not only in Tech sphere but in everyday life. I guess these points are the most irritating. I like everything else in my job, I can easily adapt to every person and project.
Oh, maybe I don’t like arrogant people, who think that there are no one better them. I can’t stand them.
To the issue of arrogance. During your career, did you face some gender prejudices?
Unfortunately, the stereotype about stupid blue-eyed blondes still exists. Every time I was going to a job interview I was facing the Great Wall of Gender Prejudices. My skills were always underestimated, so it was a little bit irritating to waste time to demolish this wall and demonstrate that I’m not worse than male specialists.
It’s a pity that such stereotypes still exist. By the way, how do you handle stress?
There is nothing better than a hot bath in the evening. Also, I like holding tea ceremonies with my family, it’s a really relaxing procedure. From time to time I like dancing, especially Latin. If you’re interested, my favorite dance is bachata. It’s absolutely marvelous.
To be honest, haven’t heard about it. I promise that I’ll watch some YouTube videos. We’re close to the finish line. What is your nearest professional objective?
Finally, take Magento 2 certification and become Imagine 2020 speaker. I think, there’s nothing impossible. I just set an objective and do my best to accomplish it. My motto is “The sky is the limit”.
It should have been my last question. I was going to ask you about your personal motto. Viktoriya, it was nice to have a talk with you. Thank you for your time. I wish you good luck to perform a speech at Imagine 2020. Have a nice day!
Thank you for listening and nice questions. Have a nice day too.