International Women's Day: At Easyship, We #PressForProgress

 

Last October, we hosted a company-wide summit at our HQ in Hong Kong. Together as a company, we put our culture code on paper.

We all agreed that gender equality was a value that was important to us. While the percentage of women in our company is above average in the logistics industry, our co-founding team still strives to improve this number. 

I strongly believe that having women in leadership positions brings different perspectives and ideas, which generate better outcomes. Therefore, it is important that we offer a respectful environment where women feel welcome.

The campaign theme for International Women’s Day this year is #PressForProgress, a movement that strives for gender parity. This is definitely something we support.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, I want to spotlight four women who are leaders in their department and have proven to be a valuable asset to our organization. I hope you find their interviews inspiring!


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Marie Lachenal, Head of Partner Integration

As Head of Partner Integration, what is your day-to-day like?

I am responsible for nurturing partnerships from start to finish. I love my role, as it is very diverse! I am lucky to work with everyone in the company, from sales and marketing to the tech team.

After I qualify and contact potential partners, I work with sales to share their needs, and with tech to ensure the feasibility of the integration. Building a strong relationship with our partners is key, and for this, I rely a lot on the co-founding team, while at the same time, monitoring the development with our CTO and DevOps.

Once the integration is live, the job is far from being finished. This is where marketing comes in to ensure all parties get the most out of the integration. 

You've been at Easyship for 2 years, which is a long time in a startup! What is it about Easyship that makes you stick around?

I'm approaching my 3 year anniversary and it still feels like I haven't exhausted every bit of Easyship! The Easyship I joined is not the Easyship I am working with now, so it doesn't feel like I've been in the same company. Working in a startup is demanding, but so rewarding. 

You joined the company during their first year of operation. What is one lesson you learned back then that you now use in your current role?

Always challenge what's been done and what you've done. Move forward. Never rest on your laurels.  

What advice do you have for women who are looking to move up the ranks in their company?

In my experience with startups, there is no point in trying to be visible to the right people and getting the attention of top management. Since the organization is small, only hard work pays off. When you prove that you can deliver results, you will move up. It's a fair game where tenacity, hard work, and passion for your job are rewarded. 


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Shonel Symister, Customer Success Manager

What is your day-to-day like as a customer success manager?

My day is filled with building long-term, lasting relationships and making sure our clients are reaching their desired outcome by using Easyship. I make sure that our clients are not only comfortable with using our technology, but also know that they are important and their needs matter.

It is not a typical 9-5 day for me.  I am on the phone with clients anywhere from a quick question call to a 2-hour, "Lets make sure everything is up and running correctly" call. My days vary with figuring out creative solutions to help our clients grow.

As I'm the first impression of our company, I have to be understanding of client needs and be the support they need to become a successful eCommerce company. 

Being in a customer-facing role means you sometimes encounter difficult situations. Can you share your secret sauce on how you diffuse these situations?

Oh, yes! I have dealt with some unhappy clients. I try to start with a question about the goods they are selling, especially if it's something like face masks, exfoliators, or a super cute apparel item that I may spend money on, and go from there. Show interest in their business to start the conversation!

I've also called back clients that have hung up on me and explain to them that before they hang up again, I am here to help and not sell them anything. Once that's understood, it allows me to re-start the conversation.

You've been running your eCommerce store, Yesterday's Glam, years before you joined Easyship. What's one lesson you learned from running your store that you now use in your current role?

Running an eCommerce store and building it to what you would like it to be takes time.

When it comes to posting your items, marketing, pricing, and of course shipping solutions, you want to make sure it all works together. Yes, you want to increase your revenue, expand globally, and make it simple for yourself to run, but that all requires patience and persistence.

I am patient with our clients as well as persistent. AND, I am only persistent because I want them to be successful and achieve their goals with Easyship by their side. 

What advice do you have for women who are in a client facing role?

My advice would be to stay confident and use your star quality in a role that requires a pretty tough skin. 


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April Tan, US Operations Lead

As the US Operations Lead, what is your day-to-day like?

I split my day between 4 different areas: courier operations (analyzing existing solutions, talking to couriers), account management for our largest US clients, eFulfillment (prospecting, communicating between clients and partners), and day-to-day operational tasks (supporting the sales team, managing US CS reps, and fixing shipment data errors). 

The time spent on each area varies every day depending on what the most urgent projects are. 

Handling operations in logistics can be stressful – how do you remain calm during time-sensitive situations?

The to-do list is never ending and everything needs to be done yesterday, which makes it easy to be overwhelmed! To avoid this, I try to just focus on the task at hand and take things one step at a time. 

You started out as an intern. What was it about Easyship that made you apply to a full-time position?

The team was one of the biggest reasons why I decided to come back. Even when Easyship was just starting out 2 years ago, the founders were so driven and passionate about the company that it was hard not to be infected by their energy.

During the internship, I was also given a lot of responsibilities from the get-go and knew that I wanted to be in the same environment where I was allowed to take on different challenges, while not being afraid to make some mistakes along the way.

What advice do you have for women who are seeking leadership roles after graduation? 

Just go for it and take risks if it means more opportunity for growth! 


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Jane Wong, Back-End Web Developer

What is your day-to-day like as a back-end web developer?

My day begins by catching up on emails and messages on our tech-related Slack channels that came in overnight. The first thing on my list is usually to go on Github and review the pull requests that have been assigned to me.

The rest of the day is spent on whatever feature I'm working on at the moment, interspersed with more code reviews, discussions with my partner on the feature, and bug fixes.

As I'm part of the Courier Expansion team at Easyship, I also have meetings with the Operations team to learn about and plan for the technical requirements of new courier integrations.

How did you get into coding?

It all started with Xanga, a blogging platform that was popular back in the early 2000s. There were plenty of blog templates out there but I could never find the perfect one, so I started learning HTML and CSS to make tweaks to their layout and colour schemes.

My first job after university was at a startup with a team of five. All of us managed our own departments and because our team was so small, we often crossed over and helped each other out. When the company had to revamp their website, I had the opportunity to be part of it and really enjoyed it.

I started learning Ruby, Rails and Javascript in my own time after work. Later, the company acquired another company and that acquisition came with a website that had an antiquated content management system without any documentation. I was able to use what I knew and learn what I didn't to make adjustments to the site.

I realized I enjoyed doing that a lot more than my main responsibilities and decided to take the plunge. I applied for a 3-month intensive bootcamp and ended up at Easyship right after.

You've come across some crazy bugs while working on the back-end. What is one lesson you've learned from fixing a difficult bug that you continue to use today? 

Error handling wasn't a topic that I had much experience on when I was learning to code, so when I first started working at Easyship, there was definitely an adjustment period having to handle bugs while knowing there were clients waiting for a fix.

A key lesson I learned during those early days is that you can't fix a bug if you don't know where it's happening. You need to try to recreate the problem, then read the error backtrace carefully to pinpoint where things went wrong.

To make this easier, when you write your code, you need to think about the potential errors that can occur and how best to handle them. You also need to think about who will be reading those error messages and craft their format and wording accordingly. This is especially important when you depend on external APIs that are outside your control and can behave unpredictably. 

What advice do you have for women who want to succeed as a back-end developer?

Don't learn to code on your own. Try to look for groups to learn with or start looking for a job in development, even if you don't feel ready.
 
You need to learn how to work with a team of developers, how to read other people's code, and understand different approaches and ways of thinking, as well as how to explain your own approaches. That's a muscle you don't get to stretch unless you are working with others.
 
Everyone has their own experiences with code and topics that they are particularly excited about. The sooner you get exposed to developing in a group environment, the easier it will be when it becomes your day-to-day.

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