Celebrating Women’s History Month this year, we’ve been lucky enough to sit down (virtually) with an incredible range of inspiring, powerful women across the retail and eCommerce industry. Today, we’re joined by the inspiring Tanya Weller, Director of Samsung Showcase, KX.
Where did you start your career, did you always know what you wanted to do?
After finishing Exeter University all I knew was that I wanted a job in ‘marketing’. Marketing for me is the perfect balance of art and science and that was me. I wasn’t a maths expert nor an artist, but I love both subjects in equal measure. It was at that stage that I knew I didn’t want a job at a big corporate company (I had applied for a few of the grad schemes and hated the whole process… all the formalities and psychometric testing just wasn’t for me!). From that point, I swapped my efforts to agencies and ended up landing a pretty dream job out of uni. It was a small agency which specialised in music sponsorship, where I worked on alcohol and tobacco brands to create brand experiences at all of the major music events. These included everything from Glastonbury, V Festival, Reading & Leeds to the MTV Europe Awards, Video Music Awards and The Brits. You couldn’t have asked for a more fun job as a twenty-two-year-old! I worked almost every weekend for two years but LOVED every minute. We worked hard and played hard and I found that my high energy organisational skills and thirst for knowledge was well-suited to the role.
What are the greatest challenges or frustrations you face as a woman at the top (if any)?
I am lucky enough to say that I don’t think I have ever felt true frustration “as a woman”. Perhaps it’s more dependent on your mindset; I know I have a pretty brave and determined attitude and have never believed my gender should get in the way. If you genuinely believe in your ability and have the confidence to portray it effectively, nothing should stand in your way. I think my greatest challenge has often been myself – we can be our own worst enemy and doubt our abilities or our own voice. For me (and certainly when it comes to my team), it’s crucial to find people around you that can be your cheerleaders and that can support and build your confidence so you’re able to be the best version of yourself.
Who is a woman who inspires you?
I’m not sure I have “one person” who inspires me, I simply admire strong women who “get on with it” – not those that make it look easy, because it’s not. Instead, I admire the women who don’t complain and embrace the everyday through all its chaos… but who doesn’t love a bit of chaos! We should feel empowered to make choices and embrace our decisions. No judgement on which choices we make, but be the power of your own destiny.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Launching Samsung KX has definitely been the most epic journey and building the most incredible team of go-getters to launch something never been done before in Samsung. We’re a totally different retail model to our traditional Samsung Experience Stores since we focus more on the overall consumer brand experience, fusing together local culture, face-to-face learning and cutting-edge innovation to give a glimpse into the future of a fully connected lifestyle. We went from hosting multiple events a day all powered by Samsung technology, providing an event space for the whole community to enjoy, to instead having to close our doors which was a huge blow to us and our partners. When the pandemic hit, like so many other retailers, we had to pivot quickly to digital and totally overhaul our plans to adapt to a digital platform.
It’s obviously been an incredibly tough time for retail like so many other industries, but the pandemic has also accelerated a trend that was already well underway. Consumers want more from their brands, more meaningful interactions, both physical and virtual and the fact that we’ve adapted to those demands to transform Samsung KX into a totally seamless retail experience is an incredible accomplishment in such a short space of time.
What’s the riskiest move you’ve taken in business?
I’d probably have to say moving from agency to in-house. After 12 years’ agency side I wanted to move in-house and haven’t looked back. Of course, at the time it felt daunting as I still wasn’t convinced the “corporate world” would suit me, my personality or even my skill set. I took a risk in taking a step back (in both salary and team size) in order to take a step forward and it totally paid off. I now have very well-rounded skills having sat on both sides of the fence and my breadth of clients and industry experience agency side has given me a broader perspective in my in-house roles.
What 3 traits do you think are most important when running a successful business?
I wouldn’t say any particular traits are most important, but I would whole-heartedly say to be true to yourself, treat everyone with mutual respect, be passionate about your work and – perhaps most important to me and my team specifically – allyship. Certainly, at Samsung we’re encouraged to support each other both in and outside of work, for example through our Samsung Pioneers initiative which promotes gender equality in the workplace. It’s programmes like this that will ultimately help improve inclusion through genuine and transparent communication.
What’s the best business advice you have ever received?
Again, I’d have to say to be yourself. I think, especially for women, we sometimes try to disguise who we are, whether that’s dumbing down our emotions or opinions or going the other way and being overly aggressive to get our voice heard. Authenticity is so important to me. If you stop trying to be someone you’re not, work just becomes a whole lot easier, and more enjoyable!
Any advice to future female leaders?
Surround yourself with a team who supports you and can help build your confidence so you’re able to be the best version of yourself. Also to echo my previous comments, I’d say mutual respect, passion and allyship are all key values any employee, not just leaders, should keep in mind throughout their entire career.