This article is sponsored by URBN and was reviewed before publication. URBN is a Technical.ly Talent Pro client.
When Ashley Cecere graduated from SUNY Purchase in 2011 with a degree in arts management, she set her sights on a career in film production.
“I like to build things that are tangible,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to produce something.”
The economy was recovering from the recession at a sluggish pace, and Cecere had a difficult time finding a role in the film industry. Shifting gears, she put her experience producing photo shoots to work at a digital creative agency in New York City focused on fashion and luxury lifestyle brands.
That’s where she first became interested in tech’s application in creative fields.
“I learned what it took to enable the ecommerce experience — the technology used to manage sites, the lifecycle of fulfilling an ecommerce order, how product management works.” Cecere said.
Cecere’s winding path from film to website production, fueled by her niche experience as an ecommerce professional in the fashion space, eventually led her to URBN’s Navy Yard campus in Philadelphia. Today, as a senior product manager, she helps optimize the ecommerce experiences for the company’s three core global consumer brands: Anthropologie, Free People and Urban Outfitters.
More specifically, her role is to develop growth-focused initiatives that will help retain customers, spanning from big picture strategizing to day-to-day problem solving to writing really specific user stories and ensuring that what they build works before they introduce it to users.
Over the last two years, that has included projects from piloting a new membership program with benefits such as free shipping and exclusive access to new product launches, to simplifying the customer’s process for tracking the status of an order.
“We’re always looking for new ways to solve for customers’ needs,” Cecere said. “How can we make our login process more secure or our sites more intuitive so that people don’t have to make a call?”
Cecere has found that her more relaxed, Type B personality is a great fit for the role of product manager — a position most people in the industry associate with the rigidly organized qualities of a Type A.
“I’m more of a flexible, creative, people-person,” she said. “I’ve learned that these soft skills are really helpful, not a barrier. It’s important for our team to understand the personal side of our business, to build relationships and help people communicate and collaborate.”
As such, she’s found a way to balance the practice of examining dense quantitative consumer data with a more qualitative, grassroots approach of scrolling social media and reading app reviews to uncover consumers’ true feelings, frustrations and needs from URBN’s ecommerce experiences. Those human elements of her technical role, Cecere said, adds a “depth and richness to the work, ensuring there’s no chance of getting bored,” while also fulfilling her dream of producing something meaningful.
“To me, that’s the most interesting part.”Explore career opportunities at URBN
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