A spotlight on female leaders during Women's History Month: meet Christina
Coupang supports all of our employees to realize their potential based on equal opportunity by fostering a culture that embraces diverse talents. In March, we continue to highlight our female colleagues and their achievements along with International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.
Christina, a Product Management Director at Coupang, works hard to create the best customer experiences and defy barriers for bold innovation. We sat down with Christina to discuss Coupang’s culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Hi, Christina, it’s a pleasure to meet you today. Could you please introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Christina. I joined Coupang back in October 2020 and have been working on the Customer Experience Product team since. Before joining Coupang, I was in the gaming industry, where I worked on bringing video game products from inception to market and running these vibrant live games for millions of gamers to enjoy for years.
Personally, I am a bit of a multicultural nomad, having been raised in six different countries throughout my childhood — Denmark, the U.S., Iran, Czech Republic, Thailand, and Korea. So, I was positively surprised and happy to see the diversity at Coupang when I first joined. I love working with this multinational and multicultural team here at Coupang.
Could you introduce how the team you lead is improving the customer’s experience?
I am working with brilliant talents in our Core Customer Experience team. Our team’s mission is to provide an amazing shopping experience for our customers as they shop on the Coupang app or website.
You can see the fruits of our work as you use Coupang, from browsing through different products and recommendations, reading the product detail page, and adding items to your cart, all the way to checking out. We obsess over defining customer problems and root causes, designing the best solutions, validating them through customer usability tests, interviews, and A/B experiments, and understanding the data to make final decisions on rolling them out to all customers.
The work sounds very interesting, but I imagine it also takes a lot of skills. Which skills do you find most helpful in adding value to the customer experience at Coupang?
I naturally enjoy connecting the dots between hypotheses and reality using both quantitative and qualitative data sets. This curiosity helps me and our teams dive deep into analyzing customer behavior patterns as well as understanding how our CX improvements change them so that we can prioritize well and build products that will “Wow our customers.”
As a leader, I feel a great sense of fulfillment when I see our teams make good and smart decisions well-backed up by both quantitative data and qualitative customer feedback.
<International Women's Day 2023 campaign theme: #EmbraceEquity>
Let's talk about leadership. What was it like when you became a leader for the first time?
I had the opportunity to become a leader very early in my career. Looking back, I was still quite unpolished with a lot of self-pride in my own job competency. I had to transition from the belief that high competency meant leadership, which was shattered pretty quickly. Leading was a completely different realm as I had to lead members in completely different functions, such as engineers and graphics artists, for which my job competency was zero.
Then, how did you overcome this difficult situation to become a true leader that you are today?
I am a strong believer that there is nothing that is impossible. To me, everything is just a matter of tradeoffs and constraints, and what it comes down to is the decision whether to keep going amidst such factors. And challenges or obstacles, in a way, are what make our jobs interesting.
In such cases, I check with myself to determine whether the obstacles are just my own mental barriers, and if not, how I can “recruit” other supporters who can help the cause together. If I don’t understand something, I am not shy to ask questions to colleagues who are much more knowledgeable in the area than I am so that they can help me assess the challenges. Over the years in my career, I have learned over and over that results are made not by myself but with the collective force that pushes us through together.
Are there any other leadership lessons that you have learned?
For me, I tend to benchmark people or cases to improve upon myself, so I did the same in leadership. The problem was that I’d also been in an industry where female leaders were scarce. As I adopted the traits of other leaders, I found myself wondering if this was the only accepted form of leadership.
Over the course of several years though, as I learned more about myself and received more data and feedback from colleagues, I realized that leadership does not come in an ideal shape or style. Rather, it matters how well you understand and cater to each person that you meet. Leadership comes in different forms. The important thing is to be yourself and establish your own leadership style, but to adapt to the audience for effective delivery.
I imagine there are many young women that are trying to overcome self-doubt out there. Do you have any advice for them?
I’d tell them, "Don’t be afraid to ask others and listen to their opinions.” I’ve found this to be extremely useful for my own confidence and also leadership in better ways. When I begin doubting myself, I acknowledge that female leaders tend to suffer from imposter syndrome and ask my respected colleagues what my strengths are so that I can grow even further. Hearing candid feedback helps me gain that confidence again and keep a level head.
Also, know that compassion goes a long way in really understanding your team and colleagues, which can be key to the success of your work. Take your obsession towards customers and take it straight to obsessing over your internal customers .
Do you find diversity, equity, and inclusion important?
I strongly believe that nobody has it all. There are always strong suits and weak suits for any one of us, and we can only learn from others who are not exactly like ourselves. If we discount and brush off someone else because of their style, traits, or weaknesses, we are also losing the other great things they bring to the table.
At Coupang, we have women’s affinity groups where we can learn from others from both inside and outside of Coupang. It is important to learn from others and see how they have pushed through and built their careers.
Coupang continues our journey towards driving changes to make the leading workplace for all. Join us in celebrating Women’s History Month and beyond by embracing the culture of equity.