Careers in the Consumer Business

Perspectives from Ami Silverman, CVP Worldwide Consumer Channel Sales & Marketing at Microsoft 

For this interview style blog post, I had the pleasure of meeting with Ami Silverman to dive into her career path and experiences in the consumer business. Today’s goal is to share Ami’s perspectives and advice for tackling a career centred around marketing and consumerism.  

What is fascinating about the consumer business? 

At the end of the day, we are all consumers. There is an emotional feeling attached to every buying decision we make, from cars to groceries—which is why consumerism is such an emotional business. It is exciting to imagine the customer journey, starting from the moment people hear about a product, think about it, and until they make the final decision to buy it. Ultimately, products are meant to help people achieve certain goals, so there is always a personal connection.  

What consumer trends should we look out for? 

The customer will continue to be the center of everything, especially as customer expectations grow. Omni-channel is a strategy that puts the customer (aka decision maker) in the center. According to HubSpot, the omni-channel experience provides an “integrated and cohesive no matter how or where a customer reaches out”. For a decade or so, companies had certain parts of omni-channel, but nobody was doing it brilliantly until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Going forward, speed, convenience, and digital engagement with brands and products must continue to improve.  

How do you compare the fashion vs. tech industries? 

Fun Fact: Ami used to be in the fashion business at Ann Tayor and GAP 

Both industries are always evolving and changing. In the fashion industry, apparel comes and goes every season and fast moving. The tech industry tends to roll out new products on an annual basis, usually in the Fall. However, the tech industry has moments of novelty that ignite sentiment to the products that are brought to market.  

Engineering is critical in both industries. Oftentimes, we marvel at the engineering marvel of cool technologies like Microsoft Mesh. However, the fashion industry also requires a lot of engineering behind the scenes, such as with the washing and colouring process of denim.  

How do you define customer obsession?  

Customer obsession needs to be more than a statement or fancy poster. It needs to be part of the entire process of designing and building any product. Starting with the end user, be clear about how they will experience your product… Is it intuitive? Logical? Practical? Easy to understand? Always put yourself in the customers’ shoes to make sure that the experience is desirable. Be prepared to cancel your launch if you don’t believe the quality experience is there yet—the dollar sign should not come before quality. 

Which career skills are most important? 

Collaboration is a critical skill no matter what role or company you are in. Since you need to work with others to get your job done, create an environment where people will enjoy having you as part of the team. Whenever you face challenges, remember that every role and function has a purpose. Instead of seeing people (or their roles) as bottlenecks, think of them as resources to achieve your goals. It is also important to be thoughtful about your approach to collaboration. Be aware of your mannerisms and behaviours, because we are all observing one another. 

Learning mode must always be on. It is important to keep your mind open to learning because it can come when you least expect it from challenging situations and times of failure. Don’t ever think that you are the only person who doesn’t know the answer. Be curious, ask questions, and listen carefully to others. When you are genuinely interested, you give other people the opportunity to explain and model the answers.  

Key Takeaways 

  1. Consumerism is an emotional business, and omni-channel is critical  
  1. Customer obsession needs to be more than a fancy statement, it needs to live throughout the entire process and organization 
  1. Collaboration skills and the ability to learn are critical in any role or organization  

Thank you to Ami for taking the time to meet with me and share your perspectives on the consumer business!