Bunmi Ayeh is an MBA student at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, where she is currently wrapping up her final dissertation. Although her background is in mobile technology, it’s always been her dream to step into the fashion field. Earlier this year, it all became a reality when she was awarded a place on YNAP’s MBA University Program and embarked on a ten-week adventure with our e-commerce teams at the YNAP Tech Hub in London. As the final week of her internship commences, Bunmi lets us slip into her shoes as a YNAP intern for a day.
How did you find your way onto the MBA program at YNAP?
At school, we regularly have leaders from industry come to speak to us, and give guidance on our career paths.
I found out Deborah Lee, who is the Chief People Officer here at YNAP, was going to be giving one of the talks and so I went there. She spoke of how she had made the move from telecommunications into fashion, which is exactly what I dreamed of doing.
After the talk I approached her and was like “Hi, I really want to work for you!”
I hadn’t actually known at the time that YNAP has opportunities for MBAs, but she explained the program to me and so I applied. That was back in January, everyone was crazy busy at school, completing hundreds of different applications and doing interviews. Sadly, I didn’t actually get accepted – and so my search for the right experience continued. Then, out of the blue, in April, the recruitment partner called me back. She said new places would be opening on the program, and that there was an ecommerce and product management one she thought would match my experience. I interviewed, and within two weeks I got the good news!
What have you been working on this summer?
My project was to build a front-end product strategy, on how the front-end can develop products post-migration. In simpler terms, this means my job is to understand what the core capabilities of our technology platforms are, and decipher how we can leverage those to build products. When I say products, I’m not talking fashion, I mean it in the tech sense. Solutions, like software applications, that YNAP create for customers to improve their experience on their sites.
Usually in e-commerce what happens is that front-end teams will come up with product ideas and goals, and then ask the tech team to build it. Then the tech teams will come back saying we can’t build this because of A, B, C and D. Or, the platform doesn’t allow this or that.
Whereas, at YNAP my team was working backwards, well not at all backwards, but the entirely other way around. They work from the ground up. So they look at what the foundations are, what they can support, and from there decipher what products could be created and what we can build most efficiently.
What has been your favourite part of working at YNAP?
What I loved most was that I got to interact with people from 13 different teams. From back-end teams, like the Order Management System teams, and the developers; to the teams at IBM, who are YNAP’s technology partner. Then front end, I worked with everyone from the strategy team, to analysts, site merchandisers, personal shoppers and beauty buyers. One major project I got to support teams with was enhancing payment options, and making it easier for customers to complete transactions and subscriptions. You would find yourself in a room, between the finance team and the PORTER Magazine team. It was nonstop variety and collaboration.
Beyond working with different teams, there was also a huge learning curve from working with such a diverse mix of talents.
My boss for example, when I met her at first, she oozed such tech intelligence I was sure she had a computer programmer background, but she actually studied history at university. That’s what is so amazing about tech, you can lead tech without a tech background. A critical mind and outside-the-box thinking is all that’s needed.
What was the biggest learning you will take away?
In my past experiences as a product manager, I tended to have to do a lot more “idea to business case” work. There was always lots of analysis of products, about why customers were not using products, and top-level thinking around product strategies. Whereas my time at YNAP has been spent looking at the other side, and thinking back-end first; how will we build this, is it feasible, and even if it is, how much resources will it take? This has really flipped the way I think, and I really enjoyed that as it has forced me to think very differently to how I usually would.
Now I understand how tech works and how you build a strategy on a whole other dimension. Which will help me to be a more educated and informed strategist.
Where to next?
In the early next stages, I would like to take what I have learnt during the MBA program and move into a strategy role, so as to gain more experience of a business from end to end. From my time at YNAP, I got exposure to so many different teams, and there is definitely no better way to understand how a business works.
And, well in terms of industries, now I am in the door, I definitely want to stay in fashion. It is an industry I have always wanted to crack, and I loved my time at YNAP even more than I ever thought I would!