Women in Operations 2016 | Pooja Agarwal

Pooja-AgarwalPooja Agarwal
Birchbox
VP of Operations

Education: BA in Economics and Anthropology from the University of Michigan.

A key component to operations is relationship management and in particular working with many different types of people in many different roles. Anthropology as a domain focuses on learning about different cultures from an unbiased position. I think bringing this same perspective to my career has helped me build relationships that are most beneficial for all partners.

My job: At Birchbox I manage our warehouse, transportation, procurement, supply chain, subscription operation and web production functions. I also work cross-functionally with other internal teams to support all new initiatives and ensure our company can scale in the future.

One of my main priorities is to ensure that all cross teams are aligned and informed regarding operational execution on current and new initiatives. I have regular touch-bases with my cross-functional partners to ensure that we have a close pulse on current business; but then with each new initiative we also have larger planning meetings to ensure that we build a fully aligned support plan so that each project is successful, not just at launch but also once fully implemented.

Which best describes your career path?  I started my career in a different field and, over time, decided logistics/operations was a better fit for me.

Before operations I had spent time working on merchandising, creative operations and strategy. However I ultimately decided to focus on operations since I think it is an area that not only has a significant impact within the business but it also has a direct impact on our end customer.

Which of the following resources have helped you in learning to become a logistics/operations professional? InternshipMentors (both outside & on the job); On the Job/Experiential; Self-study.

My first job in retail operations was: Sales Operations Coordinator at Gilt Groupe. I was responsible for coordinating all creative, distribution and merchandising for upcoming sale launches.

I’ve been in this field for: 7 years

I’ve been in this role for: 1.5 years

Roughly, what percent of your company’s operations team are women? 50%.

What is the most interesting part of your job and why? The most interesting parts of my job are that it is constantly evolving and that we have a direct impact on the experience our customers have with Birchbox.

What is the most challenging part of your job and why? The most challenging (and arguably the most exciting) part of my job is that I’m constantly being pushed by competition and motivated by continuous innovation to constantly evolve our operation. Managing through change can be difficult tactically but is also incredibly challenging to lead a company through since often processes for many different teams have to change as well. The truth is that customer expectations are evolving so quickly in operations that it’s almost as if right when you’re done with one project a next one has already started.

When looking to hire logistics/operations managers, what techniques produce the best results? Networking; Promoting from within your current team; Working with schools/universities.

What are you most proud of accomplishing in logistics/operations? I’m most proud of the work we have done to scale Birchbox’s operations. We have experienced fast growth and spent the last year building an infrastructure to support scaling to even larger numbers in a profitable way.

I’m also proud of my beginnings at Gilt Groupe, where we built a new retail model and had to figure out how to execute from beginning to end.

If asked by another woman interested in the field of logistics/operations, what would you list as the pros and cons? I would say the biggest pro is that it is an incredibly fulfilling field where you get to solve hard problems and make a direct impact on consumers. I would say the biggest con is that at times, you do have to prove yourself in this field since it has historically been led by men. You have to be assertive, tough and extremely decisive as an operations leader.

Are you currently mentoring other women interested in logistics? Yes

See which Women in Operations were profiled in the September 2016 issue of Multichannel Merchant:

Pooja-Agarwal-75

Pooja Agarwal

Laura-Barrett-75

Laura Barrett

Kristin-Bauer-75

Kristin Bauer

Angela-Goldstein-75

Angela Goldstein

Catherine-Harrison-75

Catherine Harrison

Lynn-Jeffrey-75

Lynn Jeffrey

Christine-Miller-75

Christine Miller

Kimberly-Silva-75

Kimberly Silva

Nancy-Spector-75

Nancy Spector

Angie-Stocklin-75

Angie Stocklin

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