As a McKinsey & Company consultant, I traveled to Guangzhou, China to teach a workshop on Merchandising Fundamentals to a group of Chinese-speaking merchants. No one in the audience spoke or understood ANY English.
Facing the language barrier, I quickly realized the importance of translators. As I prepared for my presentation, my husband's advice was “approach the challenge like an officiant reciting wedding vows with the happy couple — the officiant has to make sure the recipients remember and recite what is spoken to them.” So I carefully chose my words (dropping the typical retail vernacular) and slowed my pace to effectively convey my personal insights and practical tools the merchants could understand and use immediately.
Now at Assemble Inc as SVP of Global Retail, I find myself in the role of the translator, listening to the challenges and dreams of business owners and leaders, and communicating the vision to our team of engineers, developers and designers. After over thirty years in retail, having walked in their shoes, I understand their issues and goals, and translate them into a language our technical experts understand, paving the way for transformation and success.
Without someone to bridge the gap between the “art & science” and transfer information from one side to the other, the real problems might remain uncovered or the solutions might miss the mark!
I spoke about this and much more as a guest on a recent podcast with Future Commerce and BigCommerce.