2021 Honorees

Ntola Obazee

Trading Director

“My mindset has always been to embrace every opportunity as a chance to learn, grow, and develop.”

Tell us about where you work and what you do there.

I am the Trading Director at Emma Bridgewater — an iconic pottery and lifestyle brand based in the UK. I am responsible for all sales channels (eCommerce, wholesale, retail, marketplaces) with a focus on eCommerce, marketplaces, and international business development. My focus is to lead the strategic Channel/Market and digital growth plans for the business.

Some key achievements since I joined the business: Leading the project to launch our marketplace in China and establishing the brand on the key social channels, repositioning the eCommerce team to have a strategic roadmap focus as a team and with our digital agencies, realigning our account structure and processes in Wholesale as well as launching our B2B Trade-site to facilitate digital orders, and there is more to come in the pipeline!

I enjoy my role as it allows me to work cross-functionally across the business internally and with our external partners. I’m proud to work for a brand rooted in iconic product and design, spearheading its growth through digital acceleration and expansion into new markets.

How would you describe yourself?

I am a goal-oriented person who loves a challenge and opportunity to drive change in my personal and professional life. My motto is “Be fearless,” and “Be curious.” Glass ceilings are meant to be shattered. Representation is important to me and I hope others are inspired by my career journey.

I love building relationships with people across the industry and countries as there is always something to learn and be inspired by in someone’s story, culture, and business. I’m looking forward to when the pandemic is over and I can embrace networking, people, culture, travel, music, and all the things that contribute to my passionate, optimistic, goal-oriented, driven personality.

What is your leadership style?

I see myself as a mentor and love to empower my team to embrace their roles in the business (and how important they are to the business) and encourage them by providing a forum for them to share their ideas and proposals to drive the strategy. My team has made some important contributions to the business and their growth/development is important to me as well as finding ways through technology and development to improve efficiency within my team.

What do you think has been your biggest professional success so far?

My mindset has always been to embrace every opportunity as a chance to learn, grow, and develop. I enjoy a challenge and spear-heading change within businesses. This has shaped my career path and development. I believe i have a good understanding of global markets having worked for a myriad of brands and categories that operated various business models (retail to eCommerce).

I am extremely proud of my ability to penetrate and grow new/existing markets and explore new channels.  I enjoy working with internal and external stakeholders to deliver goals — bringing others along on the journey and sharing the success with them.

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What goals do you have for 2021?

Personally, it’s a significant year — hitting the big 4-0 and coming into my own as a woman. Embracing this new chapter, and continuing to put my health and well-being first physically and mentally. I am an avid fitness enthusiast and document my journey on IG with hope to inspire #Fitat40 #Fitmom.

I am currently pursuing my Master’s degree to supplement by 15+ years of practical experience. Knowledge is power and harnessing new developments in eCommerce and tech has been liberating. Professionally, I have some great strategic projects ahead within the business which will involve my teams across eCommerce, marketplaces, wholesale, and retail. I’m excited about defining the new roadmap and focus to deliver the strategic goals around UK & International with a focus on US & China.

What do you think is the next big trend in eCommerce?

The shift from physical to digital through the COVID-19 pandemic. AI/AR will become more prevalent in marketing and consumer engagement. Visual commerce will become more integral with a requirement for more interactive content, storytelling via imagery, and video content to support the customer journey (CX). Brands will have to adapt to the changes in consumer behaviour and focus on improving the shopping experience on mobile as well as building relationships with them to support customer acquisition and retention. I am excited about spearheading the web development and optimisation projects in our business this year to support our digital growth through CX, CRM, and CRO.

Name an eCommerce brand you admire and why.

I will be a bit biased, but Emma Bridgewater. Embracing digital, new markets and channels for growth, strong people and brand values. Secondly, the commitment to product and design as well as investment in continuing production in Stoke-on-Trent. The brand is also looking to become a B-corp business in the future.

Veja is another brand. I admire their commitment to being a disruptive fashion sneaker brand with a focus on ecological/fair trade production and sustainability at the forefront in Brazil.

What do you geek out over?

I’m a fitness enthusiast, and I’m always looking for the next physical challenge. So far I have run a marathon, numerous half marathons, completed a Spartan, and embraced CrossFit/strength training. Hopefully when lockdown ends I can set some new goals outside of my home workout routines! On the flip side, I love fashion, and interior design and of course all things tech – the inner geek embracing everything that makes life easier or efficient.