Stephanie Horton is currently Global Consumer Marketing Director for Commerce at Google, where she leads the B2C Marketing teams helping to shape and drive the vision and strategy for Google Shopping and Travel. Her previous roles include Chief Executive Officer at Hemp Tailor, where she implemented strategic vision focused on long-term growth, and Chief Strategy Officer at Alexander Wang, where she built strategic partnerships and new revenue streams. She has also worked at Dayton Hudson/Marshall Fields and has since worked at Draft Worldwide, The New York Times Co., Vogue, Shopbop.com, and Farfetch. A 25-year veteran of the luxury fashion and marketing communities, Stephanie has developed and executed creative marketing solutions for both domestic and international brands. Here, she discusses charting a career path that works for you.
You've had numerous senior roles at high-profile companies. How have you approached designing your career?
Good question. I have never really been a career architect or a big fan of the 5-year plan. Directionally I know where I want to go, but as far as opportunities, I have always been focused on the scope of the role, the potential of the opportunity, if it is filling any gaps in my resume or if it's giving me a new skill set. I have for sure taken some risks with startups like Farfetch. Still, fortunately, those risks paid off and were actually the roles where I learned the most and got exposure and working knowledge to several aspects of the business that I would probably have never worked on, like operations, international and strategy.
You've transitioned from working with luxury fashion brands such as Vogue and Alexander Wang to Google, a tech company. How is the company culture different, and what steps did you take to adapt and build relationships in the new role?
There was for sure a strong learning curve for me on the engineering and product/ tech side. While I have worked at e-commerce companies and have experience working with product and engineering teams, it was much more on the customer journey and site design side so working on the actual product was very new to me. One box that I always check before I take a job is to identify how I can add value to the role, company and bottom line. If I don't see that line of sight, I will usually turn the role down. In the case of my current role at Google, I saw that I could add immediate value on retail, e-commerce and core marketing strategy. So while I was ramping up on the tech/product side, I was able to build credibility in my role by offering expertise on improving customer experience, starting to build an understanding of the brand, and offering advice for product improvements along these workstreams. While Google lends itself to creativity, it is much more of a performance culture than I'm used to, so this was really helpful.
How would you say your style of leadership has evolved throughout your career?
My style has for sure changed as my career has progressed. Most recently, I have started managing senior-level team members. I began as a coach who was focused on offering guidance, helping teams to grow their careers, and spending time developing their skill set. Now that I work with a senior-level team, I'm more of a visionary leader. I'm focused on strategy, inspiration, innovation and letting my team have more autonomy to carry out their version of these attributes while I offer support and guidance.
What is the best advice you've ever received about managing people?
I think the best advice I have received was from one of my former bosses - always be clear and transparent. I have also, over the years, experienced some bosses who were great marketers and super inspirational leaders but were poor communicators and failed to set clear expectations. This really brought this advice to life for me, recognizing the importance of clarity and transparency with my team and how crucial it is to set expectations and effectively communicate with them. The more transparent and precise I am about the team's goals, strategies and KPI's the clearer my leads are on how to get there.
What is a recent career highlight?
I think for sure the partnerships we were able to put together with Google Shopping. 15% Pledge and American Express came together with the goal of helping Black businesses. Both partnerships were focused on bringing awareness to consumers of Black-owned brands as well as offering training by our Think with Google teams that help these businesses thrive in an online and omnichannel environment which is now very much the new normal.
Who is one person that has been instrumental in your career success? And Why?
Wow, this is a really hard question as I feel so many have helped me along the way. I would have to say Jose Neves, the founder/CEO of Farfetch. He took a big chance on me as an unproven CMO and put me in charge of building the brand and strategy to grow what is now a multi-billion dollar global business. He als