The data leader using the power of jade to overcome obstacles

Toni Sekinah, knowledge-based content manager, DataIQ

For Michelle Wong, senior marketing analytics manager at luxury online marketplace Farfetch, no two days are the same. However, she will generally spend her time leading meetings for key initiatives with her team and other business functions, and working with her team on projects by providing directions and helping with any issues. Simultaneously, Wong addresses the growth and development of individual team members.

Michelle Wong, senior marketing analytics manager, Farfetch Wong said that she gets the best out of her team by understanding the strengths and motivations of each person she leads, as well as supporting and providing them with opportunities to use those strengths.

"I create an environment where mistakes can be learnt from."

“I actively listen and provide guidance to them. I encourage and coach them to ask themselves questions that help them problem solve. And I create an environment where mistakes can be learnt from and aren’t seen purely as failures,” she said.

At Expedia, she was manager, then senior manager of search analytics and so accumulated significant experience managing and leading teams of people. However, the journey to becoming an effective leader has been a tough one and Wong has found herself challenged and taken out of her comfort zone by the often unexpected situations that she has faced.

Meeting bird's eye view of fist bump“This has really stretched and developed me as a leader,” Wong said. “I’ve learnt to embrace these opportunities to learn rather than fear failing. On example is learning to trust my instincts when decision making with a lack of evidence. This is particularly difficult being a data-driven individual.”

She has not only had to learn how to support and motivate the members of her team but also how to encourage and push herself forward. Wong realised that a lack of self-belief was limiting her progress but taught herself to focus on a physical object she owns that reminds her of her past achievements and her future goals, whenever uncertainty crept in.

"Now I see obstacles as opportunities to learn and develop."

“I have a trigger to bring myself back to my 'believe to achieve' mindset when in doubt, which enables me to refocus on tackling the obstacle at hand. Now I see obstacles as opportunities to learn and develop.”

Polished jade gemstone"My jade pendant trigger enables me to refocus on tackling the obstacle."

That trigger object is her jade pendant as it represents courage and so reframes her perspective to view challenges as chances to grow.

Having worked at long-standing tech company Expedia, and now at Farfetch which could be described as a scale-up company, Wong has seen that organisations that are data-driven and foster a culture of testing and learning, treat data in the same way.

She said: “The key difference is maturity. Expedia, being more established, is further along its journey in setting up processes and automation for certain uses of data than Farfetch.”

One of her most rewarding projects took place at Expedia. The aim of the project was to understand the value of search remarketing – retargeting people based on their search queries. “It was super high impact, it paved the way for change in this area in the company, and I loved the variety of skills it brought together: thought leadership, project management, cross-functional teamwork, analytical rigour, and stakeholder management,” said Wong.

Michelle Wong was profiled by The Female Lead and Women in Data UK as one of the Twenty in Data and Technology 2018.

Knowledge-based content manager, DataIQ
Toni is the senior features editor responsible for the origination of DataIQ's interviews, articles and blogs.