Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Lindsey Bleimes and I’m an Engineering Director at Wayfair, a global e-commerce company focused on the home goods industry. My team builds the technology, systems and tools to manage our catalog of a “zillion” things home – in reality millions of items with billions of options in a wide variety of home categories. We build tools for our suppliers to share their catalog and content with Wayfair, we organize and structure all that content, we use data science to determine Wayfair’s retail prices, we generate imagery and 3D models for our products, and we build and manage the system that allows customers to search through the catalog on site. The list of products and suppliers we work with is constantly growing, so we’re always thinking about scaling our technology to keep up and improve the customer and supplier experience.
How did you get to where you are?
My career path looks fairly straightforward: I got a degree in Computer Science and started out in the US government contracting industry in Washington, DC. After building military logistics software for several years, I got my MBA and started managing technical teams. Eventually I realized that the career path in government contracting wasn’t the path I wanted, so I decided to look for commercial software work. I really wanted to work somewhere where I could understand the product as a user and identify with the customer in a way that I hadn’t been able to previously. Not much of that kind of work existed in DC at the time, and it was tough trying to convince people that I really was interested in relocating and changing industries. Eventually I applied for a job in Boston with a retail company I had never heard of before, but who had several openings and was listed as one of Boston’s “best places to work” … and landed a job at Wayfair! Once I got here I was able to rotate through several different parts of the business (warehousing, international, QA and testing, then search and catalog), which gave me a great e-commerce foundation to now help drive the growth and technical strategy for our merchandising department.
What other advice would you give aspiring Women2Watch?
Don’t be afraid to take some risks in your career – change is a constant reality, especially when technology is involved, and getting comfortable with change has been incredibly valuable for me. Try new things, know that some of them won’t work out and that’s OK. The experience of trying and failing is itself really informative. Find roles where you feel supported, where you’re able to express your ideas, and where you have the opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t waste your time at places where that’s not happening, and don’t let imposter syndrome stop you from taking on a new challenge. Also take care of yourself – know which activities drain you vs which ones restore you and maintain a balance. Take your personal time and protect your health, because you’ll be better at what you do if you’re not burnt out or run down. Life is short but careers are long, and it’s all about the long game.
What are you most excited about looking at 2019?
Wayfair had a really great 2018, and what’s crazy is that it just feels like the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much innovation happening in e-commerce right now! The home goods industry in particular is so large yet quite fragmented, and there are so many challenges to tackle in terms of things like discoverability, augmented reality, supply chain logistics, etc. Personally I’m focused on how we provide an even better experience for our thousands of suppliers, how we can take the same thing and merchandise it in different ways, how our content compares to our competitors, and I’m really excited about how fast the technology is improving around 3D models and imagery. Another thing that has me pretty excited right now is all the attention and energy being put into figuring out how to get more women into STEM fields and programming – it feels like real progress is being made in how we talk about the imbalance, how we got here, and how we can make the tech industry a more welcoming and inclusive place for everyone.