International Women's Day: An Interview With Isabel Graham from Abbott Lyon
To celebrate International Women's Day, this week we are putting the spotlight on inspiring women in digital leadership roles. In this instalment, our own inspiring leader, Forward Role’s first-ever female Associate Director Rachel Wheeler, chatted with Isabel Graham, Head Of Ecommerce at Abbott Lyon.
1. Please can you provide an overview of your role?
My role as Head of Ecommerce at Abbott Lyon involves overseeing the Website, Trade and Retention side of the business and setting the strategy for the Ecommerce team to strengthen our customer behaviour metrics in the long term. No two days are the same in Ecommerce and the store never closes which keeps us on our toes and we’re always looking to make short and long-term optimisations whether that be digging into trade performance or reviewing A/B tests to optimise conversion rate.
2.What are the biggest challenges you have faced in your career?
Working in the fast-paced world of Ecommerce, one of the biggest challenges is that the store is always live and data is coming in at all hours of the day - this can also be a benefit as it allows you to see instant impact from actions taken, but also absorbs you into work as there’s always more to be done. Finding a healthy balance has been a challenge but the pace has also accelerated my progression. Progressing so fast has also been a challenge as a young woman within business, where I’ve had to overcome feelings of imposter syndrome particularly when managing a team and have confidence in my experience.
3. Let’s be more positive! What are your biggest success stories?
The biggest success stories for me are definitely through members of my team growing and involving. I mentored an Ecommerce apprentice from the age of 16 through to 22 and seeing her development from an assistant to now being a Project Manager is extremely rewarding. On a personal level one of the proudest moments looking back on my career so far has been the range of international markets I’ve worked on, each of which involved a huge leaning curve to the local culture and shopping habits but ultimately made me so much more well-rounded.
4. What advice would you give to women who aspire to get to the top of their game?
The advice I’d give to women aspiring to progress in their careers is not to shy away from challenges and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Taking risks and making mistakes is the most important way of learning and building your confidence. I’d also say to not underestimate yourself and to surround yourself with people who challenge you - never aim to be the smartest person at the table but always remember there’s a reason you have a seat.
5. What factors do you think have caused a gender imbalance in the workplace, specifically amongst Senior Leadership, Board and C-suite roles? What do you think we can do to overcome these challenges?
I think there are two key factors playing into the gender imbalance within senior roles. Firstly the expectation that women can’t prioritise work while having a family and secondly women’s confidence in their own skillsets within the workplace. Neither are easy to solve over night, but I believe that education is needed to shift ways of thinking. One way to tackle this could be encouraging and facilitating women in finding strong female mentors who can exemplify the value of having women in leadership positions and the ability to balance all aspects of life with a passion for career. We should also be educating people in positions of leadership about the benefits of diversity across a board.
6.Lastly, what does International Women’s Day mean to you?
For me, International Women’s Day is about raising awareness about both historical struggles and ongoing gender imbalances. It’s an opportunity to reflect on what progress has been made but also review how far there is still to go before we’ve achieved gender equality. I like to take the chance to step out of my own experiences as a woman and deeper understand the struggles that women from different backgrounds face. The focus on gender equity this year shines a valuable light on the need for us to acknowledge and address the disadvantages that women face in a range of situations.
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