Anna, who oversees the online retail company’s operations is responsible for making sure the organisation is sustainable and efficient – a far cry from her school days when she didn't exactly know what business was! After earning her CA, Anna went on a career journey that took her from a Big Four firm to a senior leadership position with Groupon before settling with THE ICONIC. She's now living the dream, working for a company she is very passionate about.
Here's a look at Anna Lee's typical work week:
I like to get to work early and spend the time before the day starts finding out what everyone has been up to on the weekend. Working hard is important, but being a human is even more important. Next I'll analyse the retail trading performance from the week prior, and look at the key metrics. I'll make a mental note of any actions that might need to be taken ahead of my post-weekend catch-ups.
My first meeting each week is the 'executive team standup'. It's a short team huddle with the rest of the executive team where each of us talk about our top three priorities for the week ahead. This is important because it ensures we're all aligned despite working in different parts of the business.
Next I catch up with my teammates to get an understanding of any issues or challenges their teams or projects might face and how I can use my skills and expertise to support. I am surrounded by some pretty amazing individuals, so I always make sure I'm in constant contact because I find that work benefits the most from collaboration.
In the evening I have one of my two weekly sessions with my personal trainer. I'm a real believer in looking after myself physically, which translates to a clear and productive mind. I've learnt that having a balanced life that incorporates healthy eating and exercise is essential.
Tuesdays are a big day, but also one of my favourites because I often spend them at our fulfilment centre here in Sydney. It's where our inventory is housed, organised and then shipped out to our customers. More than 400 people work in our fulfilment centre, making it the largest in Australia, so there's a real buzz and energy that comes with all the activity.
There are a lot of moving parts to the operation. It's like conducting a really large orchestra! I love getting out on the warehouse floor and saying hello to the team. I'm an extrovert so I enjoy chatting with people, but this opportunity also gives me insight into team morale, what's working well, what's not, and in general, a really good sense of what's happening and where I can lend support.
Another highlight is working with the fulfilment strategy team on cool new ideas to improve how we deliver our service. For example, we just had a meeting where our future development plans were presented to me to see using virtual reality (VR) technology. That was really exciting.
There is no typical Wednesday, and in a way, this reflects my role quite well because anything can happen and you always need to be ready to respond. However, I do like to set aside some time to really focus on the culture here at THE ICONIC.
Our company culture is something that we have continuously evolved and we're really proud of it. Our core focus is recognising people as individuals, each with their own unique value. It's why people want to join THE ICONIC and why people stay for a long time.
As a senior leader my role isn't just about operations, but also actively embodying and promoting our culture. So for me that means showing empathy, taking the time to get to know people, investing in my team's development and leading by example with a dedication to our customers.
THE ICONIC is an online retailer, so we don't have physical stores. This means our phone and online customer service channels are where we have some of the most valuable interactions with our customers.
At least once a month I visit our customer service team who handle all customer queries via phone, email or online chat. I normally shadow a team member for one hour, which means I listen into their calls and get a real sense of what our customers are saying and the reasons for contacting us. It also means I'm able to appreciate how our customer service team resolves any issues.
Visiting the customer service team is really important because it enriches my understanding of the business and the work the various teams do. In senior leadership, it can be easy to get caught in a bubble, so I make an effort to get out and experience the business for myself.
I typically spend Friday morning at our production studio where all our merchandise is modelled and photographed. It's great seeing our models, hair and make-up, and photography teams bring each item to life.
Back at the office, we do a 'Stand Up' session at lunchtime where various members around the business share updates on what's been happening during the week, various members around the business share updates on what's been happening during the week. We want to encourage a transparent culture, and this open way of communicating goes a long way to achieving this.
At 4.30pm we host office drinks, which are always well received by the different teams. Everyone has a chance to catch up and share a few laughs, and for some of the more active ones. The teams normally then head to the local watering hole - sometimes I join them, but often I'm just as happy to head home and have takeaway sushi and a glass of wine with my husband.
Online businesses need accountants too. Working as a CA can be just as much about shoes and fashion as it is about business growth and profitability.
Note: Since this story was first published, Anna has moved onto a new position as the Chief Executive Officer at Flybuys (Loyalty Pacific).