First Movers: Taryn Marella

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TARYN MARELLA is VP of Global Digital Commerce at GSK Consumer Healthcare and one of the original eCommerce trailblazers in FMCG, having been at this now for around 13 years.

Her background is logistics and supply chain management, then moved into sales and trade marketing roles, picking up digital marketing and media as she progressed on her eCommerce journey.

She has an amazing husband who is a physician and a ‘blended’ family of 8 – so yes, she now has 6 kids, true Brady bunch, 3 girls (18, 3 and 1 years old) and 3 boys (17,16 and 15 years old). British, but has lived in the US for the last 8 years. She feels incredibly fortunate and humble to now be working with a phenomenal portfolio of brands that really make a difference to peoples’ lives. COVID has not only shifted consumer behavior in eCommerce generally, but has accelerated consumer acceptance of purchasing healthcare online. 

Why did you choose to pursue eCommerce in your career? I created the opportunity in the organization I was working for and pushed the agenda hard as I saw an area of untapped potential to drive sales and be a first mover in his space. Once you are in the space its infectious! 

What is your biggest strength, and how have you used it for your success in eCommerce? Determination – building ecommerce was like pushing water uphill for the first few years and there were many times I could have just held my hands up and said “you know what, I don’t need this rubbish, I’m out” but that’s not my personality, I just dug in deeper to create my legacy.

What is the weirdest skill or talent to come in handy in your eCommerce experience? The ability to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. – from starting out in the ecommerce space the conversations have been ‘difficult’, it’s about finding the right way to articulate the response.

How have you most successfully influenced change within your organization (or with your clients)? By challenging the status quo. Just because things have always been done a certain way doesn’t mean it is the right way now but its best to bring people on the journey with you – sometimes there is just a fear of the unknown for people on the outside of ecommerce but if you contextualize vs the world they are used to, it’s easier for them to relate.

What was your most “valuable” career failure, and why? I don’t view anything I have done as a failure; I view all experiences as a learning which I can store into my memory bank for the future or share with the handful of amazing women that I mentor.

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior or habit has most improved your life? 

  • The recognition that women leaders are not “bossy.” They are passionate, engaged, ambitious women who don’t mind leading.
  • It’s ok to not be ok.

What are you learning right now? I am actually doing a Doctorate in Business Administration in my “free” time – with 6 kids there isn’t much of that and I have fallen asleep a number of times reading the eTextbook but the current module focus is on Business Research. I did my two Masters Degrees while working full time (no kids for the first and 1 kid when doing the second) so I know it’s possible, it does however seem ‘harder’ this time around having been out of academia for so long.

What are the 1-3 songs that would make up your career soundtrack today?

  • Let It Go from Frozen: not just because it seems to be on a continuous loop in our house for the 1 and 3year old but because it is inspiring and empowering to break free of constraints
  • The Climb by Miley Cyrus: the song inspires me in that there are millions of women who like me have had to deal with many barriers and pushbacks in order to be successful in their careers but we dig in & just get on with it
  • Nothing’s Going to Stop Us Now by Starship: empowering song, encourages teamwork in the pursuit of a goal, promising that if you just stick together, you’ll be unstoppable.

What are the 1-3 books you’ve gifted the most or that have greatly influenced your life, and why?

If you could have a gigantic billboard for the world to see with anything on it, what would it say, and why? Don’t just tell me no. Give me the guardrails I must find a solution to work within. 

What are the worst recommendations or advice you have heard related to eCommerce?

  • You are wasting your time, no one will ever buy our products online – yep it was said!!!
  • Bricks & Clicks isn’t where we should be focusing, it’s all about Amazon and Pure Play

What advice would you give to a future leader of change about to enter business, or specifically the eCommerce field? Be prepared to deal with ambiguity.

What is the last thing you bought online, and why? I just checked my Amazon account (if I don’t include my monthly Subscribe & Save items which includes Diapers, Baby Wipes and Zevia Soda that arrived this morning), it was 3 x multipacks of toddler size washable face masks for daycare – I have no idea where our 3 year old puts these things, we go through so many ! 

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.

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