First Movers: Jaimie McConnell
JAIMIE MCCONNELL is the Manager of Customer eCommerce at Lindt & Sprüngli (USA) Inc. She’s been married for 17 years, and is a mother of 4 – Girl (13), Boy (11), Shih Tzu (9) and Goldendoodle (6), and she’s a native Charlottean (rare!). When not talking content, ROAS, etc, Jaimie can be found cooking, working out (where are my Peloton peeps?), reading, dreaming of travel, or eating (Lindt) chocolate! She lives her life following her passions so when a recruiter called about an eCommerce role with a chocolate company, it was a no brainer.
Why did you choose to pursue eCommerce in your career? I didn’t choose eCommerce, eCommerce chose me. But over my career, I’ve chosen to stay with it. I’ve had folks ask me how I got where I am but I can’t tell you anything other than dumb luck with a side of hustle. I stay because eCommerce reminds me a lot of my science days. It’s grounded in facts but there are still a lot of unknowns. We’re constantly hypothesizing what’s next (see the next question) and running experiments. Plus I love the comradery in this field.
What is your biggest strength, and how have you used it for your success in eCommerce? Funny that you ask, just last week I had someone call me ‘resourceful’, so let’s go with that (he also called me persistent (in a good way), which is no surprise if you know me, Ha!). This role requires you to know where to go for different things whether within your organization or within your external network. We also tend to live in a no man’s land of sorts so we have to stay humble, not be afraid to ask (stupid) questions, and make things happen (sometimes from nothing).
What is the weirdest skill or talent to come in handy in your eCommerce experience? A couple of things – I’m a jack of all trades type of person and I did Biomedical Research in college. As a jack of all trades, I know enough to be dangerous about a lot of things, including many aspects of business. Considering how cross functional eCommerce can be, it helps to have such a general understanding so that we can try to put together the pieces. That latter part is where my science experience comes in handy. I was literally trained to study the known and anticipate/project the unknown.
Honorable mention: My insane talent for finding 4-leaf clovers may have also helped to bring all the luck I’ve had in my life/career.
How have you most successfully influenced change within your organization (or with your clients)? By bringing others along for the ride. It is human nature to shy away from areas of discomfort, so I try to dispel that as much as possible. When I can share my knowledge and get others thinking eCommerce/holistically, great things begin to happen. I know this role won’t exist forever (one day soon it will just be ‘Commerce’) but I’m not afraid of what’s next for my career by continuing to teach others.
What was your most “valuable” career failure, and why? Quitting my Masters in Biology (when my dad took me off the payroll – Thanks (in hindsight) Dad!) and then ultimately leaving science behind by moving to CPG. Science was a passion project for me and I learned a lot. But now I’ve found success with a new passion project and I would have never found it (eComm) behind a lab hood. Plus as an extrovert I need more interaction than the cell lines were ever going to give me.
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior or habit has most improved your life? Yoga Fridays – Whether at lunch or right after shutting down for the week, I’ve practiced yoga on Fridays for a few years now. I intentionally picked it back up this year after quarantine kept me from my old studio for most of 2020. It’s a time when my mind can start to shift away from a busy work week and settle into the upcoming weekend. Plus it keeps me out of the Chiropractor’s office.
What are you learning right now? To be comfortable while uncomfortable. As someone that was always on the go, both with work and in my personal life, the slower life of quarantine has been challenging for me. Add to that, I’ve been on-boarding and building out eComm remotely, and there’s been a lot of uncomfortable moments over here. But I’ve embraced it and grown from it.
What are the 1-3 songs that would make up your career soundtrack today?
- “Get the Party Started” by P!nk (any time you launch eCommerce within an org)
- “Stir It Up” by Bob Marley (disruption is the name of the eComm game)
- “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by The Temptations (for Test & Learn Budgets!)
What are the 1-3 books you’ve gifted the most or that have greatly influenced your life, and why?
- The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown – I can honestly say that I’ve gifted this one multiple times. It is a must read for everyone, but especially women (and even more so moms) pursuing a career. As a self-aware perfectionist, this has been an important one for me.
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team; A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni – This is a quick and easy read for anyone on a team, leading or not. And so true!
- Dirty Genes by Dr Ben Lynch – Because I’m still a scientist at heart. After some health issues in the beginning of 2020, this book helped me to better understand some of the ‘why’.
This was tough!! So many books have influenced me as a semi-avid reader. These seemed most relevant to my career; however you’ll find my Goodreads filled with historical fiction (preferably WW2).
If you could have a gigantic billboard for the world to see with anything on it, what would it say, and why? Most days: “If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”
On Special days: “If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”- Brene Brown
What are the worst recommendations or advice you have heard related to eCommerce?
- Omnichannel retailers aren’t the focus of eCommerce (Amazon or Bust, Baby!)
- eCommerce is only a small portion of the business. We cannot spend much time/money on it.
What advice would you give to a future leader of change about to enter business, or specifically the eCommerce field? Always focus on the Vital Few vs Trivial Many (Thank you Jon Chamberlain & the old Britax team). There are so many things that we can chase, but no one can do everything well all at once. Focus on the foundation or the things that will drive the needle most. The rest will come.
What specific, industry-related change do you believe will happen that few others seem to see? Goodness, well, I would have said Instacart entering into owned distribution, but we’ve all seen the recent news…
What is the last thing you bought online, and why? Groceries! Surprised?! As a working mom, I learned quickly to outsource what I can and, of course, I was an early adopter of online grocery shopping (since 2011!).
First Movers is a change leader interview series featuring select industry pioneers who are boldly driving the evolution of digital commerce, the consumer and everything in between.