By Lauren Keyson
Susan Thomas is a senior business systems manager for Gilt.com, a provider of instant insider access to designer labels at up to 60% off retail. She works with the company’s business and technology departments to align their program priorities with Gilt’s overarching core business initiatives. Her primary focus–and her passion–involves distilling business concepts into actionable goals.
You can sum up her quest in three words: What’s the problem?
“So the idea is really drilling down and distilling the problems you are trying to solve so that the team knows where they can operate, and they know their bounds,” she explained. “What does the tech team really want to solve? What does the business team want to solve? So we really need to be able to distill that down to executable and small chunks so the team knows how to tackle that.”
The NY Tech Council held a meeting at Gilt’s midtown offices to discuss bridging the communication gap between product managers and stakeholders, Thomas focused on communication strategies for business and technology saying that while they have common goals, each has different priorities.
Asking the Right Questions
She likes to use a vending cart as an example, “If we wanted to start a hot dog cart in the middle of the city, what are some of the things that we’ll need? What are some of the ingredients that we’ll need to make it a successful business? Well you know people will say ‘I want this organic bun, or I want the best relish or the best ketchup’… but really, I want the cart and the location…”
“But really if you don’t have a good hotdog you don’t have a good, viable business. So the concept is talking about really getting down to that real focus, and what are the business problems that we’re trying to solve? What is the business that I’m trying to create? What is the hotdog? What is the main thing, the one sentence that we can focus around so that when people start working, everyone knows what they are driving towards and what are the goals. Not this lofty vision statement, but more what it is we want to do?”
The answer? “I want to have a good hot dog. So I think that everybody talks about being able to say ‘I want this and I want that,’ and people start to throw things in a bucket that they don’t know. So if there’s an initiative that people don’t understand or a company or a business idea that they don’t understand, they’ll start to assume. They’ll start to put things in this bucket. But really, I just want to have a good hot dog, that’s it.”
And what is the answer for Gilt? “It’s really the idea around the hub. We want to be The Luxury brand. We want to be the hub of luxury commerce.”