Mentor Spotlight: Allan @ Shopify

Mentor Spotlight

Meet Allan, a Mentor at The Commons and a Business Operations Lead at Shopify.

To summarize Allan's career path in one line: Network Forecasting, Business Strategy @ Bell → Marketing Analytics, Strategic & Planning, Sales Planning & Analytics @ Uber → Business Operations @ Shopify.

Describe yourself with 3 emojis

  1. 🤔 Eternally curious, and always trying to figure out new things about myself and the world around me.
  2. 🎧 Huge music fan, and my genre of choice varies with my mood (CHVRCHES is my forever obsession though)
  3. 🐶 Have a 1 year old corgi, Saki! If you ever jump on a call with me I’m sure she’ll make an appearance sooner than later! 

Current role & location?

📍In Business Operations at Shopify, based just outside of Toronto.

What prompted you to pivot into tech?

For me it was all about chasing after the right opportunities as they arrived. Over my career, I have come to understand what my strengths and weaknesses were; more importantly what I enjoyed doing in my roles. This understanding has allowed me to view new opportunities to make career pivots into the following:

  1. Will I be excited to join this company and make an impact? 
  2. Will this role allow me to grow further or is it more or less the same job but new company?

As long as potential roles checked off these 2 boxes, I was more than happy to research more on the job and dive into this further.

What was the interview process like?

Most of my interviews were broken down into the following. Every company is different, and the process can be as short as 1-2 weeks to as long as 3-4 months!

  1. Meeting the hiring manager and discussing a) my background and how this would fit well with the team/company and b) My skillset, specifically around how I would be able to answer questions around the position. This can be live business cases, on-the-job scenarios and/or problem solving exercises in order to determine if I would actually thrive in this role. 
  2. Take home exercise: A lot of my roles were heavy on the insights & analytics side of things, therefore the take home business cases usually involved a lot of data manipulation in order to make a recommendation. This could be taking an excel spreadsheet and creating customer segments for effective marketing or examining a product launch in a new market and creating P&L projections with various use cases. 
  3. Meeting various members of the team: Similar to the hiring manager screen, I had the opportunity to chat with various team members on anything & everything from team behavioural questions to walking them through decision making frameworks when working cross functionally at a company.

What are your favorite things about being a Mentor at The Commons?

  1. Empowerment
  2. No cohort is the same
  3. Community

What should people who are thinking about joining The Commons know about it?

  1. We want to see you succeed! 
  2. You’ll never know where this community will take you next.

Tell us more about your current role at Shopify!

I am currently at Shopify as a Business Operations Lead. More specifically, the team I am on is the Core Products; Shopify Core is what’s “in the box” when they buy Shopify (Online Store, Checkout and the Admin to set up and run their business). While we are still building out the Biz Ops team, the goals of the team are to structure complex and ambiguous business issues for our Core leadership team. This usually involves us working very closely with Product & Data Science in order to develop insightful recommendations & track progress on our business.

What’s a fun perk people can expect working at Shopify?

  1. Permanent work from home: the benefits of not having to commute, but also how much of an emphasis Shopify places on trying to create working environments that match not only your job, but also your lifestyle! There will always be pros & cons to having a fully digital working environment, but Shopify ensures that you have everything you need to be successful from day 1, and offers support in case you need help along the way. 
  2. Destination 90: a program that allows staff to work remotely from anywhere in the world for up to 90 days per calendar year. This perk allows you to “live your best life”, but your life can also dictate your working situation instead of the other way around! 

What's an impactful project you've worked on?

Project Objective: At Uber, I was tasked with developing our customer segmentation that will be utilized across all operations teams.

Project Overview: The challenge was to leverage both internal (eater behavioural & transitional data) and external (demographic & psychographic data) in order to create meaningful segments that teams can leverage in their work.

Your Role: In charge of the data analysis piece & the creation of key insights that would be used to create each segment. 

What made it so rewarding? It was a huge effort cross functionally, but it was amazing to see how specific projects/teams were built around the segments that we created (for example: a project around “Families” and how we should change our approach to menu creation).

What advice would you give to your former self at the beginning of your job search? 

It’s okay to not know what you plan to do out of school. In no way did I ever plan to stay at a telecom company for 6 years, then transition right into tech doing business operations. Each role I had allowed me to develop the necessary skills to uplevel my career and I’m truly grateful for all of the experiences that my career has thrown at me. More importantly, start trying to talk to as many people as possible so you can see what roles are available for you! You never know when that coffee chat might just turn into something amazing.

Any words of wisdom for people who are looking to make a similar career move?

  1. Life isn’t a race, and it isn’t always about upward progression (aka promotions). There are often times where taking that lateral move to explore a new team/skill set will only benefit you in the long term. I’ve been told that your resume shouldn’t be a list of everywhere you’ve worked, but rather a bunch of stories that you’ll be able to learn from & share with others! 
  2. Take the time to explore opportunities that come your way, whether it’d be meeting people for coffee chats to hear about their journey or to uplevel your skills (SQL always goes a long way regardless of the position 😊) 

And now, a few of your favorites:

  1. 📚Book: The Cold Start Problem: How to Start and Scale Network Effects by Andrew Chen.
  2. 🎨What you're doing outside of work: My puppy likes to keep me busy even after working hours.
  3. A handy shortcut: If you haven’t been grouping tabs in Chrome, you definitely should.

Tell us two truths and a lie:

  1. I had my bachelor party in Japan.
  2. I somehow ended up in the background of an episode of Suits.
  3. I completed in a Dance Dance Revolution tournament.

Join our Strategy + Operations Sprint to get 1:1 access to mentors like Allan.

Interested in more?
Mentor Spotlight: Aritra Ghosh
Mentor Spotlight: Aritra Ghosh
Meet Aritra, Product Manager at Azure (Microsoft) and Product Mentor at The Commons!
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