Digital business leader Jamie Lee shares her rich experience of traveling and knowing people with different backgrounds and cultures. She took classes in countries that gave her a global perspective as a learner and eCommerce professional.
She is passionate about driving change for industry leaders and impacting customers globally. Jamie brings her learnings from working with iconic brands Sony Electronics, Electronic Arts, Walmart, and Nike to her current role at a sustainable fashion brand, Everlane, as Head of Digital Experience.
We also delve into why Jamie decided to take her MBA when she’s already being offered leadership roles in huge companies. Listen to her story to know how she managed to finish her MBA while still fulfilling her duties at work.
On why she went to business school even when she was already working with big brands
[00:13:48] I wanted to learn from a broader set of people from very diverse backgrounds. Haas was that ideal destination for me. You have a lot of top-tier tech talent, but at the same time, you have people from all walks of life, such different people and different backgrounds. And I felt that the learning environment could challenge me as a business leader and shape the way I think differently that might not be homogenous to other very similar people in the retail e-commerce space. So that was the big draw, that diversity of thinking that could be achieved in a Haas experience and MBA.
On transitioning from Nike to Everlane
[00:31:00] I realized I’ve been doing the big company thing for a long time, essentially my whole career. Why not take a shot and a chance now to be a part of a high-growth organization that can still drive impact as an industry leader? Thinking about sustainable fashion, I believe Everlane has a unique position in that space, changes the conversation around radical transparency and sustainability, and starts fighting climate change. Being a part of a purpose-driven organization and a smaller business unit with really fast growth and growth potential was compelling.
Advice for students who want to build a career in consumer goods, apparel, or digital space
[00:33:37] There really isn’t one true path that could lead you to success. Have a clear understanding of what you foresee your career to look like. That could be at a digital consulting agency, late-stage startup, or large enterprise. Each one is going to teach you something different. Don’t be afraid to explore different routes that could teach you or give you the experiences to lead you to where you want to be in the next 5 to 10 years. Have a clear goal of what that end-game or outline looks like, and always be flexible along the way.
- Jamie Lee on LinkedIn
- Global Network of Advanced Management
- UC Berkeley Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC)
(Transcripts may contain a few typographical errors due to audio quality during the podcast recording.)
[00:00:05] Chris Kim: Welcome to the OneHaas Podcast. I’m Chris Kim. Today we have Jamie Lee, digital business leader and Head of Digital Experience at Everlane. Jamie is a Haas EWMBA alum and a seasoned executive with experience at Walmart and Nike before taking the role of Head of Digital Experience at Everlane. Jamie has a passion for driving change for industry leaders and impacting customers on a global scale. Welcome, Jamie, and great to have you on the show.
[00:00:31] Jamie Lee: Thank you for having me, Chris. Really excited to be here.
[00:00:34] Chris Kim: It’s great to have you. We always like to start with the origin story. So would you mind just kind of sharing a bit about where you grew up and what your journey was like before you got to Haas?
[00:00:42] Jamie Lee: Sure. So I would say born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, in Grays Harbor, Washington, about 45 minutes away from Seattle. Grew up in a pretty small community. So it was in the same school preschool through 12th grade, which is exciting. You really get to form these close-knit connections, but in a small community, especially in a school, you get to try your hand at a lot of different things. So it started to instill a spirit of curiosity. And because I grew up in such a small area, my parents and family always loved taking us out to travel the world too. So really instilling both a love for the Northwest, a love for travel, and also that experimentation curiosity growing up as well. And I would say growing up there, I really started to appreciate the 10 PM summer sunsets, which is a big benefit living in the Northwest. The great outdoors is an access to that. And then top-of-the-line seafood as well.
[00:01:37] Chris Kim: Ah, very cool. What did trips look like that as a kid growing up?
[00:01:41] Jamie Lee: So I think one of the interesting highlights as a kid too is that in our school, we had twice a year mandatory outdoor ed trips in our school. They would take us on 25-mile bike rides, going river rafting, or camping in the Olympic mountains. So that was embedded as a part of our culture. So it was cool to just have that as part of the community and school, so, access to that, or even access to Oregon or Vancouver. So when you think about rivers, lakes, mountains, that’s all within a 30 minute, one-hour drive. So that was a great part of our lifestyle, and definitely not taking that for granted living here in Oregon.
[00:02:18] Chris Kim: My gosh. That’s awesome. That’s a really unique experience. I think maybe it’s not unique for some folks who’ve grown up like that, but for folks who are coming from big cities or maybe more traditional suburbs, that sounds like an amazing experience. Did you have any early experiences early on that shaped how you approached life or have you noticed that it changed the way that you look at things versus maybe folks who had a different type of upbringing?
[00:02:41] Jamie Lee: I would say so. I went to undergrad at the University of Southern California, down in LA. So escaping to the sunshine is always fun compared to the rainy winters up here. And I would say mentioning travel is a big part of my upbringing. One of the biggest takeaways from undergrad is that I learned that life is really more of what you experience out of the classroom than in the classroom. So the global component, the travel element was really important to me and USC really opened a lot of doors there for that. So I took some global trips or stints in China, Mexico, and then worked abroad in London for a summer internship which was awesome, just to gain more of a global perspective. And funny enough, I feel like I learned more about the culture and the people there than the actual work or classes, although that was great too. My big pro tip to other folks kind of thinking about going global is definitely try to study or work abroad where you can in college; that is that perfect playground to be able to do that.
[00:03:39] Jamie Lee: So that’s something that I took with me as well. And then I also, a lot of life lessons learned in college and happy to share some of that too.
[00:03:47] Chris Kim: Oh yeah. That’s amazing. You know, USC is a huge school; it’s got a huge alumni base and is super diverse in many ways. What was that experience growing up in the Pacific Northwest Seattle area and then making that trip down to Southern California and one of the probably biggest schools in terms of that greater LA Area?
[00:04:11] Jamie Lee: It was definitely very eye-opening. So growing up in a small community where a graduating class was 63 people to one of the largest universities in the US is a big shift and exciting. I think a couple of highlights for me is experiencing life outside of the classroom in LA, which had a wealth of different experiences beyond the campus itself. So we had outings to Huntington or Venice Beach. We had the USC football tailgates as a part of the big culture, or getting extra seat fillers at the Emmy’s or Grammy’s was a common theme and experience in LA. So I feel like that big city feel was something I appreciated. And having more of that global or diverse perspective, having so many of the students also come from Asia or Europe or different communities in LA that were so different from mine, really appreciated that point of view and experiencing undergrad together with them.
[00:05:13] Chris Kim: That’s awesome. Well, Jamie, for folks who know maybe even just a little bit about you, you were pretty active in undergrad. I mean, you’re crushing academics, academic scholar, you’re in student government, and you racked up like a ton of awards, and then you also studied abroad; how did you manage all that? What was driving you to do all that? You know, a lot of people come to college and think about taking it easy, but you were just crushing every opportunity that you had the chance to.
[00:05:41] Jamie Lee: USC had such an amazing opportunity to just explore and dabble in so many different areas. And knowing that you only have four years, I’m all about how do we maximize every minute or every day out of these four years with such a unique group of people. So I think that curiosity from my upbringing and being in this really big sandbox of different experiences and such amazing people really inspired me. And I think that love for learning, just learning through conversations, different experiences, and different organizations, has taught me a lot or even going global. So I feel like that was one of the main drivers of that curiosity and learning. Funny enough, taking that strengths finder test now, my biggest strength, according to the test, is being a learner. So I think that’s always been a part of who I am and what’s really encouraged and inspired me to explore and take part in a lot of different things.
[00:06:36] Chris Kim: Great. Oh, so what did you do after college? Where did you go, and what was that experience like?
[00:06:41] Jamie Lee: Yeah. So after college, I went a little bit further south to San Diego and kicked off my career at Sony Electronics. What I loved about the role, it was a leadership development program that focused on direct-to-consumer innovation. We’re looking at new ways to drive the future of Sony through digital, through stores. I learned a lot of best practices about how we think about commercial moments, scaling a new concept store, or even driving the digital business and learning how to connect with so many different people in a ton of different business units. So I’d say the biggest takeaway for me is that I learned that I wanted to continue to be a part of high growth areas in the business, direct to consumer to drive the brand, and love being a part of brands that, again, could connect with consumers globally.
So that was my biggest learning and kind of my story pre-Haas too, is after Sony, I knew I wanted to be closer to digital and technology. So I made my way up to the Bay Area and worked for Electronic Arts for about a year to help grow the digital business’s foundation. Thinking about pricing tools, a go-to-market blueprint, and category management for the EA Sports and Sims lines, both very fun games. So had a stint there and then later took that experience and brought it to Walmart Labs, an innovation group within Walmart eComm. I’m focused on finding new ways to grow the enterprise through digital. So I had a chance to test and build out food subscription models and launch Market One for Walmart online grocery buy online pick up in-store, and scale that with the team to a thousand markets and led the digital transformation for toys and baby brands. So again, my biggest learning there before joining Haas was, I love these high-growth initiatives and how do I go to Haas, learn more from this community and show me a broader perspective of how to impact these brands.
[00:08:33] Chris Kim: That’s awesome, Jamie. If you wouldn’t mind, some folks aren’t familiar with Go-To-Market and those business strategies. Could you share a bit about how that works practically at a company and why is so important, especially from a sales or a marketing perspective?
[00:08:50] Jamie Lee: Absolutely. I can speak to our Walmart online grocery experience. A lot of our Go-To-Market was really understanding what our business and financial model is. How will this make money for Walmart e-Comm and the broader enterprise of Walmart stores in general? So I think that was a part of it and also establishing product-market fit. So what is our value proposition? How do we win and cut through the marketplace with this distinct service, and how do we provide long-term value? And then, as we devise the playbook for launch, what we deemed as go to market in this context is a value proposition? What does the media spend, what does the consumer experience and operational element to launch this for the consumer, and understanding what is the blueprint it takes to deliver that top tier customer experience while hitting our revenue targets. And knowing that Go-To-Market activation is so critical as we think about scale and knowing that we’re going to have some growing pains in that Go-To-Market experience, but being able to land the financial targets, the business impact, and also a really clear understanding of the consumer journey at launch.
[00:09:55] Chris Kim: If I hear you right, just to summarize, it’s all of the details around the business that you might have, you know, what’s your product, how is that going to resonate with customers? How does that turn into, you know, meaningful revenue for a business? And then, how do you grow beyond kind of the first version of that and just keep adapting and growing over time? Is that right?
Jamie Lee: Precisely.
Chris Kim: Awesome. I mean, and this might be a question for some folks who might be unfamiliar like, digital today is a huge thing, but could you give some context in terms of what it was like when you were at Walmart Labs? There’s been a ton of transformation and change that’s happened in retail generally, but huge organizations like Walmart specifically as well. Could you share a bit of what that experience was like? Especially at the time that you were at Walmart, and you got to see all that transformation and lead that first hand.
[00:10:44] Jamie Lee: Absolutely. So I can give you my inside take on my time at Walmart. So much of the business was obviously driven through Walmart stores. So when we think of where a lot of the resources area and where the priorities are, that was the bread and butter. And e-comm was sort of the new kid on the block. So how do we start growing more of the business through that? So in terms of digital maturity, I would say it was still pretty nascent. I think some people would argue, maybe it’s a little bit later in the development, but so much of the work there was building the foundation of what sort of data do we need to make informed decisions in e-com? What is an e-com organization fully look like at scale to support the world’s largest grocer or retailer? And a lot of the conversations were also how does Walmart eComm play in the broader space of competing with other giants, like the Amazons or the targets of the world and also smaller competitors.
So I would say it was pretty nascent at the time with really trying to understand the fundamentals. And that was what I would say about seven, eight years ago. So not too long ago and still trying to figure out how does eComm has become a profitable part of the business. So that was a really big focus. It’s like user growth. And then, how do we think about profitability long-term and specifically in my work, on the digital category management side, when I was working with toys and baby partners, so much of their business was still in stores that a lot of the conversation was, Hey, we believe that TV ads should be our biggest investment without a full understanding of how digital marketing, how could digital marketing impact or serve their business. So a lot of it was still education, which was very interesting. So I would still say to summarize a very nascent kind of infant to toddler stage of eComm about eight years ago.
[00:12:32] Chris Kim: Jamie, you’d worked at some of the biggest brands in the world; why go back to the MBA? What was that process like when you decided what to do and whether or not you’d go to business school?
[00:12:43] Jamie Lee: I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of learning new things over my career. And also the excitement of seeing that learning translate into the business impact, how it impacts the people on my team and around me, and also the consumer. And my whole life philosophy is that if I’m not scared, I’m not growing. And so a big part of me was I’m learning so much from amazing retailers and eComm professionals. Still, I wanted to learn from a broader set of people from very diverse backgrounds. Haas really was that ideal destination for me, where you have a lot of top-tier tech talent but at the same time, you have people from all walks of life from a medical field or a musical field, or maybe professional athlete. Such different people and different backgrounds. And I felt that the learning environment could challenge me as a business leader and shape the way I think differently that might not be homogenous to other very similar people in the retail e-commerce space. So that was the big draw, that diversity of thinking that could be achieved in a Haas experience and MBA.
[00:13:48] Chris Kim: Yeah. Do you have any memories of your time when you were prospective, or did you visit the campus? Did anything stick out to you while you’re going through that process? Because I know a lot of folks are thinking about it, contemplating, and they’re about to put that opt-in. So, I would love to hear if you had any of those experiences.
[00:14:05] Jamie Lee: Yes. So I would say in trying to— I’m scratching my head and trying to remember all the different events I went to cause I went to quite a few. There was a women’s dinner where we met with various women within the Haas community. The obvious kind of like meet and greet with Haas on campus and in the San Francisco area. But I would say the big takeaway I had there was everyone is so smart and competent yet humble at the same time. And it really felt like a community of people that I would love to be around, and I could grow from, and it just felt like they were so open to bringing in that next generation of Haas that I didn’t necessarily see across other schools. So that was the biggest kind of advantage with Haas. And that’s one of my biggest memories too, of why Haas was so uniquely different from all the different walks of life and the backgrounds and how welcoming they were in bringing people along in their Haas journey and how open they were about their experience and their journey to Haas and at Haas as well. And that the MBA can sometimes be challenging and difficult as it pertains to prioritization in time and life trade-off. So I really appreciated the authenticity of my conversations in those outings.
[00:15:17] Chris Kim: That’s great to hear. When I was a perspective, I had almost a very similar experience to what you were saying. And for me, it was, the people really cared about building the next generation and bringing the next generation of Haasies, and that kind of cemented it, sealed the deal for me there. So it’s great to hear that you had a similar experience.
[00:15:36] Jamie Lee: And I love the campus. It just felt like home. To me, which I didn’t feel necessarily another spot. So I think that was the biggest draw. Sometimes you also have to lean on your gut when making that final decision.
[00:15:46] Chris Kim: That’s great. What was the experience like when you got to Haas, and you got that acceptance letter, and then you started classes? Was it similar or different to what you thought it was going to be like? And how did that evolve as you were going through the program?
[00:16:01] Jamie Lee: So I’d say like the first month and orientation, there was so much focus on Haasies culture, which I thought was unique and something that I didn’t anticipate but loved, specifically around challenging the status quo and being a student always, those resonated with me. But I thought that was a really interesting element to Haas in bringing that community together. To your question of what was expected or unexpected. What was unexpected was how that diverse thinking challenged how I thought through problems or thought through problems differently in class. What was expected was doing my undergrad in business; some of the classes are pretty similar, but just seeing it in another light is always helpful. So I think there is some continuity and familiarity with the actual subjects and the classes, but with the people and the conversations and the richness of thinking from people who may be earlier in their career are more seasoned, I think that diversity in the classroom was really powerful and surprising in a really good way.
[00:17:01] Chris Kim: Yeah. Do you have any memories or experiences that stick out to you, especially on the, I think for a lot of, Haasies the idea of the diversity of thought or the different, like having a broader perspective, how to approach problems like that comes super intuitively once you experience you kind of get it, but do you have any memories or anything that like aha moments that came up while you were in the program?
[00:17:21] Jamie Lee: Yeah, I would say, I don’t know if there’s one Aha moment, but I can give you some examples. There was the VCIC competition that we entered. And I think just hearing things from venture capitalists or people I don’t meet necessarily interface with, but understanding how to truly value a company. And I think hearing it from that perspective versus being in these public companies, as opposed to hearing from the other side, was really eye-opening to me or a class that I took called Turnarounds. Chris, I don’t know if you took that as well.
[00:17:51] Chris Kim: I took, who did you take that with?
[00:17:53] Jamie Lee: Peter Goodson.
[00:17:55] Chris Kim: Same, I took his M&A class.
[00:17:58] Jamie Lee: Gotcha. You’re a classically challenging class. Yes. Very, very challenging. I think hearing it through the lens of business cases and these speakers of people going through Turnarounds, they’re coming from backgrounds that are so different from mine versus, okay, I’m coming from high growth areas of more established businesses. It’s a different journey that we’re taking. So I’d say that accumulation of different perspectives, it’s so hard to say just one, but I’d say all of that has kind of laddered up to how I’m approaching things today too and really taking from at Haas.
[00:18:30] Chris Kim: Yeah, just for folks who may be unfamiliar, VCIC is essentially like a VC investment competition at Haas. And students can join. Is it? I think it, I don’t know if this was the format when you had it, like you create a team, and then you pitch, and then they give you real-time feedback, and these are real VCs or folks who have that kind of background or experience is that right?
[00:18:52] Jamie Lee: Exactly. Yeah. And then we get to play the role of a VC as well, which is interesting. And then we’re kind of judging these entrepreneurs, some of them with real products and kind of challenging them. So actually putting our heads as if we were VCs and seeing how we would assess the value of a business.
[00:19:11] Chris Kim: That’s a unique opportunity to play both ends and be able to see both sides. And it’s one of the things I think is like a huge draw to the program. You have people in venture capital who are investors, and you have people in tech; you have people in marketing and sales and product. And it feels like a United Nations of all different types of jobs and companies and backgrounds. Whether you’re an evening or weekend MBA like us or full-time, when you come to class, it’s an awesome experience.
[00:19:40] Jamie Lee: Absolutely. And also, being in some classes with full-time MBA students, EMBA students, and students from other schools within Berkeley and then some international trips with GNAM, oh yeah. So from other business schools, too, I thought those were really unique touches on the Haas experience.
[00:19:58] Chris Kim: That’s awesome. Were you able to take advantage of any of those programs? Like IBD, which is international Business Development or one of the tracks they have, like the international tracks or anything like that? Jamie, when you’re at Haas?
[00:20:10] Jamie Lee: Yeah. So I took two GNAM classes, one in Mexico City and one in Shanghai. So a few Haasies, but then also probably five to 10 other schools. So I thought that was amazing.
[00:20:21] Chris Kim: Can you share with some listeners who aren’t familiar with what GNAM is?
[00:20:25] Jamie Lee: So GNAM, I believe it is the Global Network of Advanced Management, but it’s essentially a consortium of different universities from around the globe and about three to five students per university, where you get to learn a specific topic. So when I went to China, it focused on doing business in how that works as a business or if you want to start your own. And honestly, how difficult that is for both angles. And in Mexico City, it was doing business in Mexico within that context and climate, and what to consider when building out a business in that location. So it’s giving us a bit of that global deep dive, but a unique opportunity to meet with students about their universities as well.
[00:21:07] Chris Kim: That’s awesome. Jamie, you had such an amazing time at Haas, but you also had an amazing journey slash transition to another iconic place, which was Nike. What was it like going through that process, going to Nike, and what did it feel like being somewhere so iconic as the shoes?
[00:21:25] Jamie Lee: So this was back, I’m trying to remember, 2017, when Nike had reached out about a really awesome role within their digital business space. So it was a global digital business director role to lead a lot of the strategic growth initiatives for nike.com. I think one for an iconic brand, like the shoes, I’ve always loved being a part of brands transforming the industry, and Nike’s always forever will be doing that as we think about the culture of sport and access for athletes. So I think that brand was one that’s always been on my radar. And then, just my passion for sport and truly making sport a daily habit, I could identify as both the consumer of the brand and being a part of that. So when they had called about this dream role, it was everything I wanted in a role and a brand where I could connect to the consumer.
So I couldn’t pass that up. And I was midway through my Haas program when that happened. So it actually pushed me to move to Portland, Oregon for the role and find a way to continue to travel for classes or stack up classes to make that work for maybe another year, year and a half. So it became a good opportunity to rack up some miles through Alaska Airlines as kind of the silver lining to that experience. But I would say that I’m happy to dive into a little bit of the Nike experience, too, but when the opportunity came, I just couldn’t pass up.
[00:22:49] Chris Kim: That’s awesome. Yeah. For folks who aren’t probably familiar, amongst the programs that we have at Haas is the evening weekend MBA. And typically, from my experience, especially in the weekend cohorts, essentially folks come in all day, Saturday, you have a ton of folks who come in from different cities. So not just the Bay Area, but from places like Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, Colorado. Could you explain for folks what that experience is like having transitioned from being in the bay and then also kind of commuting as part of the EWMBA program?
[00:23:20] Jamie Lee: Yeah. So I’d say both experiences are very different and compelling in different ways. Being a part of the community in the bay and seeing classmates multiple times a week does allow you to develop stronger relationships and more of that community. So I’d say that’s a big plus, but there’s also a lot of that commute time. I was driving to school twice a week. Yeah. That’s about one and a half hours each way, commuting from San Bruno at Walmart to Berkeley after class. So that required even more flexibility. I would say the weekend cohorts are a lot more efficient in school. You find really interesting ways to prioritize your time. So airplane and airport time was when I was doing homework and projects or studying. And I’ve learned to kind of listen to classes during those commutes as well. Like if I missed a part of it or wanted to relearn something. So you find really interesting pockets of time, and you maximize a lot of your time more when you know you have less of it. So I would say that was a big plus, and you also formed a new community. All the other commuters go on the same flights with you. You end up sharing Lyfts or Ubers to school and back. So it’s a bit more unique and different but was also able to create a community and strong ties through that cohort.
[00:24:35] Chris Kim: That’s awesome. Can you share a bit about it, you were already in the program when you moved up to Portland, but you needed that kind of potential flexibility, even though it might have been on the weekend, like for folks who are thinking about having a similar conversation, maybe with their employer, could you share a bit about what that experience was like with you and how you coordinated slash communicated that?
[00:24:52] Jamie Lee: When Nike had reached out about the role, I let them know, Hey, I’m also wrapping up my MBA. So they knew upfront that that was a part of essentially what I would be bringing on if I were to take on the role. So I think being upfront with your employer, letting them know that these are the expectations with school, but I will still be committed to hitting the goals in this role. I think that clarity and communication are really important. And having that alignment with your manager too, to say, Hey, on this Friday, I might be out for school or need to take a week off. But honestly, communication with that usually organizations are pretty flexible as long as you’re able to still deliver on your specific role. So I think my whole philosophy is if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. So always continue to push, but companies are more flexible than you might think for these particular roles.
[00:25:43] Chris Kim: Yeah. That’s great. Jamie, can you share a bit more about your Nike experience? For folks in the States, Nike is a huge brand domestically, but the global aspect of the Nike business is also a huge thing. Could you explain what that was like and when you first got to Nike and how that evolved over time, as you’re doing more and more things, both domestic, but also globally as well.
[00:26:04] Jamie Lee: So what I was excited about with the Nike opportunity is that the role had the ability to, again, change the enterprise in not only terms of how Nike thinks about digital as part of their broader strategy, but also the industry and culture, and honestly who has access to sport. That potential was really exciting, I would say. My journey there in the first year was to help build out the foundation for the digital business and what that looks like in the context of Nike. And then my last three years there, I was focused on strategic growth around apparel. So Nike is known as a footwear business, specifically running, but the excitement of growing a new business within that and building out a new division and offense and team was particularly memorable for me. And also leading things like category expansion into maternity or yoga or extended sizes, and the hijab to redefine who can connect with a brand and offer sport to these communities on a global reach and global scale. So I would say like in short, that would be my fondest memory of some of the work there, but also a lot of fun memories that I’m happy to share, too is part of the Nike experience.
[00:27:20] Chris Kim: Yeah. Any memories that stick out to you, you’ve you that you keep or that you think about a lot, especially at a place like Nike, I think it seems like a lot of folks have their own experiences with an iconic brand like that, but you got to see it both from the inside and then also from the user consumer perspective and anything from your experience that sticks out and shapes how you lead today.
[00:27:41] Jamie Lee: Yeah. I would say in a larger organization, to make change happen, it’s so important to be able to have shared goals and a universal language across partners with digital as a newer part of the Nike strategy became important to say like, how is digital a win-win for everyone versus trade-offs about like, Hey, how does this almost compete or conflict with store strategy or third party retailers. So showcasing how it benefits Nike, the brand, and everyone else, and taking everyone on that journey together is so critical. And I think in a larger organization, sometimes it takes a while to see that momentum. But knowing that’s sometimes it might take six months to a year to see the fruition of a concept, but once you can unlock that bigger win, that momentum that carries after will go pretty far. So continue to see where you can make those small wins as you develop more of that momentum.
So I think finding ways for those small wins and being patient if something does take a long time because when that unlock happens, a lot of potentials can go from there. I’m happy also to share some fun memories of the social and some more fun memories. Some of the most interesting things I will always remember is when I’m in a meeting room, you will always be surprised about how many professional or Olympic athletes are also in the room with you. So your coworkers and colleagues, many of them are former Olympians or played with all these notable iconic athletes or were professional, or at least the one scholarship athlete. So you’ll never realize how unathletic you are until you’re actually in the room with them. So that was pretty impressive. I’m like, who in this room today is actually a professional athlete?
So that was fun. Let’s see the number of athletes you’ll also see on campus. So I bumped into Michael Jordan once in the cafeteria, you’ll see a lot of cell phones taking photos of him, but then he is also surrounded by five bodyguards. We saw LeBron James in the cafeteria as well. And then Chloe Kim did kind of a fun meet and greet with people. So the number of athletes and the personas that you’ll see both in the US at the Beaverton campus and also globally when you travel kind of more local micro-influencers, it’s cool to be able to connect with so many people who have achieved excellence in their craft and in their sport. And then I’d say from a lifestyle standpoint, and the gyms were something else there. So there were pools for training. Pelotons were all over the place. There was a rock wall, a mini-putt area, obviously a volleyball court, soccer, basketball, any sport you name of, and it’s almost like the Disneyland for anyone who’s into sports. And you would have maybe a fitness class every hour. And I would say about four or five different, big gyms across the whole campus. So for me, that was an awesome kind of lifestyle perk too.
[00:30:29] Chris Kim: That’s amazing. Jamie, how did you decide to leave Nike and join Everlane? I know you’re now doing a ton of awesome things at Everlane, but could you explain maybe that experience and what drew you to what you’re doing today?
[00:30:41] Jamie Lee: So I would say in my Haas experience, I mentioned that diversity of thought and working and going to class with a lot of folks that have been a part of pre IPO companies or late-stage startups. And that was honestly what piqued my interest, and one day exploring a startup opportunity. And I realized I’ve been doing the big company thing for a long time, essentially my whole career; why not take a shot and a chance now to be a part of a high-growth organization that can still drive impact as an industry leader. So thinking about sustainable fashion, I believe Everlane has a unique position in that space and changes the conversation around radical transparency and sustainability and starts fighting climate change. So that piece was compelling, being a part of a purpose-driven organization and part of a smaller business unit with really fast growth and growth potential. So I’d say that was the biggest draw and also learning about everything that I learned in what we did from Nike apparel; how do we bring that to also impact change at Everlane. And the chance to really build out a team was compelling too.
[00:31:46] Chris Kim: That’s awesome. Yeah. Could you maybe share a bit about what Everlane does for folks who may not be familiar? I think some folks maybe we were sharing earlier before the recording that our house is familiar with what Everlane is, that there are some products very close by. Could you share for folks what Everlane is? What’s the big differentiator from the brand, and could you share a bit about it because you’re on the digital side? What does digital mean for Everlane and your team and your group over there?
[00:32:13] Jamie Lee: Yeah. So Everlane is a sustainable fashion brand, really focuses on sustainable innovation across the industry. So how do we essentially help consumers look good and feel good through their experience and empower them to be a part of this broader community? And a big part of our competitive advantage is the point around radical transparency around price. So you know, where your products are made, how they are made, and how we think about pricing. And we always want to deliver the highest quality items at the most radically transparent price. And I think that kind of sustainable value proposition makes people feel like they’re doing good while living a sustainable lifestyle. So that’s been the big push for Everlane. And in terms of what digital means, it is a majority of our business. We do have a bit of a store footprint, but digital is a big part of that equation as we think about growth. So different from other organizations where digital is a bit more nascent and eComm, this is sort of the bread and butter, but a chance to take it to the next level.
[00:33:18] Chris Kim: Jamie, what advice would you give for people interested in following a very similar journey with you? Like, do the MBA go into global or apparel or digital, they want to position themselves in that. It’s a growing area of interest for current students. So we definitely see that, but I would love to know if you had any advice for those types of folks.
[00:33:37] Jamie Lee: So I would say for folks interested in consumer goods, apparel, or digital, I’ve gone the other direction of learning a lot of best practices through larger organizations. I think that’s benefited and taught me a lot of areas like, what does success at scale look like? But I would also say there’s another parallel path that is equally as compelling, if not more of being a part of a late-stage startup or early stage in consumer goods, apparel, or digital, whereas maybe a younger employee, you can have a lot of impacts say that you are maybe at a more entry-level role, you can wear so many different hats and that you’ll have access to a lot of different leaders, even C-suite or CEO that you wouldn’t have at a larger company. So I would say that my advice would be there really isn’t one true path that could lead you to success, but have a clear understanding of what you foresee your digital, e-commerce, or apparel career to look like?
What are the different facets of what great looks like then and reverse engineer it to say, like, Hey, different puzzle pieces could add up? That could be at a digital consulting agency. It could be at a late-stage startup. It could be a large enterprise. Each one is going to teach you something different, but don’t be afraid to explore different routes that could teach you or give you the experiences to lead you to where you wanna be in the next 5 to 10 years, but having a clear goal of what that end game or outline of it looks like, and always being flexible along the way, too.
[00:35:11] Chris Kim: That’s great to hear. I think for so many folks, you kind of stay on the traditional or the well-driven path, and you don’t want to come off of it, but it sounds like what you’re saying is it, it’s almost the opposite you want to think about what’s the destination and be a little bit more flexible and how you get there, even though you want to have a plan and have an idea.
[00:35:30] Jamie Lee: Exactly. And I think the biggest learning for me too is like having an outline of what that looks like, but not a blueprint or something set in stone or written, knowing that there will be so many changes that happen. It’s like a pandemic could happen or a supply chain crisis that could really shift the industry and consumer behavior. So just knowing what your ideal lifestyle looks like down the line, but being adaptable in that change, Chris, you said it perfectly.
[00:35:56] Chris Kim: Yeah, no, I appreciate it. What is it like for you to have remote teams and things like that in the pandemic? I think many folks understand what that’s like from an individual contributor or individual employee perspective. From your perspective, increasingly trying to grow teams and building a culture and driving a business, how’s that been in the pandemic and as we’re trying to transition to this post-pandemic period, being in that leadership position and being the person helping to shape that?
[00:36:29] Jamie Lee: Yeah. I would say it’s challenging going through all these changes and learning like one bringing in new folks to the team and onboarding people remotely. I think that’s just a new challenge we’re all trying to learn, adapt and grow in. And I think building a culture and sustaining that digitally and remotely is also another curveball. We’ve been able to do it by having a clear vision for how your culture connects with a broader company mission. And how your team culture might differ positively and having unique DNA with your organization and your brand, and making sure the people you hire are also aligned with that and bought into that mission. So I think starting from the top, bringing in people right for that culture, but finding ways to sustain it.
And I think the biggest question is, what is the right way to build that out? Luckily, since the pandemic has softened a little bit in meeting safely in person, we’ve been able to have in-person meetups, whether it’s outside to discuss culture and build that together as a team, to brainstorm whiteboarding sessions, and also having every other week connects with the team. So lunches, whether it’s trivia or just something fun, just to connect the team. Because one thing that can get lost in a remote culture is that people element, so really being able to connect with people as humans first, the results will follow if you invest in your people. So really leaning in with a more people-first mindset.
[00:38:05] Chris Kim: Well, Jamie, it’s been great to have you in conversation today and to hear a bit about your story. We tend to end with a lightning round, hopefully, no controversial questions, although it can be sometimes divisive based on where you sit. But we’d love to do a lightning round with you and just pick on some fun last questions before we close today.
[00:38:23] Jamie Lee: Sure. Let’s do it.
[00:38:25] Chris Kim: So, first question here, name a favorite class at Haas or a class that’s been most relevant to how you lead today.
[00:38:32] Jamie Lee: Ooh, my favorite class at Haas would have to be Turnarounds, but I would say that is not how I lead today. So that would be in direct contrast. And I don’t know if there’s a class that taught me how to lead, but rather the people, the professors, and the guest speakers that started to shape more of that player’s coach servant leadership mindset. So it’s more the community that’s inspired me. So the opposite of the Turnarounds for us, but I would say that challenged my mental limits of like what I knew I was capable of doing in the course of, say, a week.
[00:39:06] Chris Kim: Absolutely. For folks who haven’t had the opportunity, I definitely recommend trying it at least once, whether it’s M&A or Turnarounds PE, I think it’s a super difficult experience, but it definitely makes you feel different when you come on the other side for both positive and just having gone through that experience as well. Here’s one that’s maybe a little bit more divisive. What was your favorite place to eat when you were at Berkeley?
[00:39:31] Jamie Lee: Ooh, that is also a tough one. As a commuter, let’s see, a lot of it was, you know, that catered lunch. I would say Vic’s was a highlight. Indian food, high quality, and good access. I would say that’s a good one. And then, it’s going to sound a little bit cliche, but I did really like Cheeseboard. I would get that sometimes on the way out. I know it’s a little touristy. I know it’s a bit basic, but I feel like it’s still a pretty good staple if you’re craving pizza.
[00:40:00] Chris Kim: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Cheeseboard, you get another shout-out. Well, what about two more? One, what’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?
[00:40:11] Jamie Lee: Is a good one. I would say that you will always be your greatest advocate, so never put limits on yourself. Situations, people, and contexts might be more flexible and open-minded than you think. And a lot of things in life end up being flexible or negotiable, if it is a win-win for everyone, or if you just ask, the worst thing that could happen is no. So always be your greatest advocate.
[00:40:35] Chris Kim: And last question. What is something that gets you excited about the future?
[00:40:40] Jamie Lee: That is a good question. And so open-ended too. I would say if we were to stick the future of work, I’m curious to see the companies and organizations that come out of this pandemic on the other side, whether it’s companies looking to IPO and what their solution was to battle through these two tough years, whether it’s a people-first mindset, the agility through a remote kind of focused environment, or dealing with supply chain and apparel. I’m curious to see what comes from the other side and how potentially, sustainability plays a role in terms of companies and how we think of that secondary market. So I’m pretty interested to see how retail and digital kind of take on that next chapter and next frontier.
[00:41:27] Chris Kim: Well, Jamie, it’s been great to have you on the show today. Definitely appreciate it. And, as we always say at Cal, go Bears!