The modern business arena of today relies on the provision of augmented solutions and adapting to trends. In such progressive times, a combined effort of the team that is overlooked by a strategic leader not only aids in growth but is also the reason behind the flourishing of any venture. All in all, any industry today demands an all-rounder as a leader.
Beth Horn, Director, Head of Industry, Retail & Ecommerce at Meta, is a versatile retail & eCommerce thought leader with 20 years of experience building high-performing teams, delivering outstanding performance, developing innovative technologies, and inspiring an industry through growth and change. Beth is also a proven strategist and a sought-after expert speaker on technology and digital media, which makes her the successful influence for her team that she is today.
CIOLook had the privilege to interview this exceptional leader, where Beth conveys the methodologies, she utilizes that, in turn, affirms growth for her organization.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Brief our audience about your journey as a leader until your current position at Meta. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
I started my career in tech 20 years ago in the creative department of Macys.com. The two decades since have taken me from in-housework at a retailer to agency work in search engine marketing, and for the last twelve years, I’ve been leading Meta’s retail and eCommerce business, first in the US and since 2018 in the UK.
The challenges in getting here are what have made the journey so enjoyable, and that’s been the ever- accelerating pace of change. In those early days at Macy’s, we had to work through the building of the infrastructure of a digital business, from creative production for a website to new distribution centers. With search, the challenges were about helping companies move from the famous adage ‘half of my marketing is working, I just don’t know which half’ to a world where we were harnessing intent and measuring marketing’s impact like never before – but also drowning in data and needing to find the signal within the noise. And in my time at Meta, we’ve moved from a desktop world to a mobile one, from text updates to photos to videos, and we’re now moving into the metaverse with AR and VR.
Change can be overwhelming, or change can be galvanizing, and I always choose to look at it as the latter – it’s an opportunity to learn, grow, and define the future.
Tell us something more about Meta and its mission and vision.
Meta’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. Becoming Meta signaled a new chapter for our company. We think the next big shift is from mobile to the metaverse. The metaverse is not here yet, it could take between 5 and 10 years, but we think this is really going to be the future of social technology. We and other companies, developers, NGOs, and policymakers are all working towards building a metaverse that will provide people with economic opportunity, offer privacy and transparency in products, keep them safe and ensure the tech is designed inclusively and in a way that is accessible.
Enlighten us on how you have impacted the retail sector through your expertise in the market.
I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the most iconic retail brands in the world, counseling them through digital transformation journeys and helping them embrace technology to facilitate growth. This has meant working with CMOs to think about brand positioning in a mobile-first world, which necessarily changes how we tell brand stories and build creativity.
I’ve had a front-row seat with some of the most exciting pure-play startups over the past decade as they have moved from launch to rapid user acquisition to transitioning to profitability to focusing on lifetime value. I have greatly enjoyed being a voice of the market back to our product team at Meta, helping to ensure that the products we build are fit for purpose for the industries that we serve.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.
We have six core values at Meta: 1) move fast; 2) focus on long-term impact; 3) build awesome things; 4) live in the future; 5) be direct and respect your colleagues; and 6) Meta, Metamates, and me. We believe that values should be specific, actionable, and useful– which, as our CEO Mark Zuckerberg has put it, means that they should be ideas that good companies can reasonably disagree with or emphasize differently. They have to be specific to us.
What I’ve found from the dozen years of working in a mission-based, values-led organization is that it is enormously empowering and puts the power in the hands of everyone at the company. There’s a sign in the onboarding room at our headquarters which says, ‘This Is Now Your Company.’ That sense of ownership comes from our first day at Meta and informs how we all work together. The people here are the best in the world at what they do, and the chance to have learned from and with this community of builders has been the privilege of my career.
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
A big part of my role is to the voice of the EMEA retail market back to our global product teams. This is to make sure that we don’t build products purely as an American company but as a global one. And as the sector is incredibly dynamic, our way of leveraging technological advancements is to build them in the first place, led by data, insights, and user behavior. Market feedback is crucially important to what we do, and it makes us better every day.
What, according to you, could be the next significant change in the retail-tech sector? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?
To me, this is all about the rise of the metaverse and the opportunities it represents. Even though it’s still 5-10 years away, we’re already seeing really slick and engaging augmented reality activations from brands, whether it’s for trying on a new lipstick shade or checking if that new sofa will fit in your living room. I think it’s going to be massively exciting to see how this comes to life in virtual reality as well, and we aim to be central to the development of this next major computing platform.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for Meta?
Whatever the future holds, I know I will be proud to work in a sector that touches so many lives. At some point, I will likely go back to working in-house at a retail brand I care about, bringing all of my experience to bear to help a brand grow and evolve. For now, though, there’s so much to continue to learn and accomplish at Meta as we serve our clients and partners, and it’s an invigorating role to be in.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the retail sector?
Retail is an industry that touches literally everyone. Retail is the engine of the economy, in the millions of jobs, it creates and the needs it fills for shoppers. For entrepreneurs looking at the retail sector, I’d evaluate ideas in terms of utility and magic. For utility, how can we make it easier for people to discover new brands and products? How can we make it easier for them to transact wherever they want that to take place? How do we ensure that their digital goods are portable and not tied to any one platform?
And then for magic – never underestimate the power of delighting customers. How can you help a consumer feel known and valued by a brand? How can you weave surprise & delight into every interaction? What are ways to tell your brand’s story with emotion and purpose? Weaving together utility and magic, the prosaic and the profound, will be a fertile place for entrepreneurs to play.
Quote: “What I’ve found from the dozen years of working in a mission-based, values-led organization is that it is enormously empowering and puts the power in the hands of everyone at the company.”