Hana Abaza

Head of Marketing, Shopify Plus

How did you start working in eCommerce?

I’ve been in tech for a really long time, and I came into eCommerce by way of B2B SaaS. I really liked the pace and the environment of eCommerce, and I realized this was the area I wanted to operate in. What’s really exciting about eCommerce is not just the level of growth, but the fundamental shift of how people look at commerce in our society. And we’re kind of coming full circle where it’s not just about the eCommerce, it’s about that full experience in online, offline.

Career-wise, if you want pace, and impact, and doing things that are kind of explosive, Shopify is a great place to be. I’m pumped to be in this industry. I learn something new every day, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

What does your typical work day look like?

The short answer is that there’s no typical work day. The challenges are always different, the conversations are always different, and the external partners you’re with are always different. Since we’re building a team, my job is largely about how I measure my team and how I make sure they have everything they need to do their job. It’s about helping them remove roadblocks, giving them the tools to remove roadblocks. One interesting thing that we have started to do is “No Meetings Wednesdays” which in reality just means we cut down on the number of meetings on Wednesdays, which is allowing us a little bit of unstructured time, and that has been pretty great.

It's crucial to focus on outcomes rather than output.

Hana Abaza

Head of Marketing, Shopify Plus
Hana Abaza

What do you love most about your job?

If I had to pick one thing, it would be the people. I love the people that I work with. That, combined with an industry that’s super exciting, combined with the fact that I’m truly challenged and learning every single day, combined with the fact that I feel my work has an impact — those are all my favorite things about my job.

What advice would you give to others looking to work in the industry?

Be a voracious learner. This industry moves very, very quickly, and there are a ton of resources that can help. If you’re on the marketing and growth side of eCommerce, then read psychology books and the old copywriting books from the 1960s and 70s, the David Ogilvy books. That stuff is like gold, and it’s still super-relevant today and the principles are applicable to any kind of marketing. There’s a really great book called “Unpublished,” which is a series of David Ogilvy’s internal company memos and speeches. It fascinates me.

Once you’re in the business, I would say it’s crucial to focus on outcomes rather than output. It’s really easy for marketers to focus on the output, but focusing on outcomes is important for every team to internalize. And another big thing is remembering to bring people along for the ride. As you start to operate in a bigger environment, it’s easy to forget that not everybody internalizes the mission, the vision, the direction, the strategic North Star of the company. You have to remind people that they do way more than they think they do.

What do you think is the next big development/trend that will define the industry?

It comes down to technology and shifting consumer behaviors — and those things are really intertwined. On the consumer behavior side, changes around payments are going to continually affect how people shop in eCommerce. On the technology side, platforms have levelled the playing field, and this allows direct-to-consumer brands to become heavy hitters without baggage or infrastructure. The D2C trend is interesting as it breaks the business model on one hand but it also creates a new customer experience and expectations on the other hand. Customers are getting used to the feedback loop and they’ve come to expect a relationship with brands.

Are there other women in the industry that you admire & why?

Many, many women at Shopify alone are fantastic. We also have female-led brands that are doing awesome things, like GoldieBlox. Tamara Mellon is an inspiring woman in eCommerce. She co-founded Jimmy Choo and has now launched her own direct-to-consumer brand. There are so many women on the tech side and in the industry as a whole doing really amazing things.