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 love building tangible things,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to produce Something.”
The economy was recovering from the recession at a slow pace, and Cecere struggled to find a role in the film industry. Shifting gears, she put her experience producing photo shoots to work for a digital creative agency in New York City focused on luxury fashion and lifestyle brands.
It was there that she first became interested in the application of technology in creative fields.
“I learned what it takes to enable the e-commerce experience – the technology used to manage sites, the lifecycle of e-commerce order fulfillment, how product management works .” said Cecere.
Cecere’s winding path from film production to website production, fueled by her niche experience as a fashion e-commerce professional, eventually led her to URBN Navy Yard Campus in Philadelphia. Today, as a senior product manager, she helps optimize e-commerce experiences for the company’s three leading global consumer brands: Anthropology, free people and Urban outfitters.
Specifically, her role is to develop growth-focused initiatives that will help build customer loyalty, ranging from big-picture strategy, to day-to-day problem solving, to writing genuine user stories. and ensuring that what they build works before presenting it to users. .
Over the past two years, this has included projects ranging from piloting a new membership program with benefits such as free shipping and exclusive access to new product launches, to simplifying the customer process for tracking status of an order.
“We’re always looking for new ways to meet customer needs,” Cecere said. “How can we make our login process more secure or our sites more intuitive so people don’t have to make a call?”
Cecere has found that his more relaxed type B personality is a perfect fit for the role of product manager – a position that most people in the industry associate with the rigidly organized qualities of a type A.
“I’m more of a flexible, creative and sociable person,” she said. “I learned that these soft skills are really helpful, not a hindrance. Understanding the personal side of our business, building relationships, and helping people communicate and collaborate is important to our team.
As such, she found a way to balance the practice of looking at dense quantitative consumer data with a more qualitative and local approach of scrolling through social media and reading app reviews to discover the real feelings, frustrations and needs of consumers from URBN’s e-commerce experiences. These human elements of his technical role, Cecere said, add “a depth and richness to the work, ensuring there’s no chance of getting bored,” while fulfilling his dream of producing something meaningful.
“For me, that’s the most interesting part.”