Here at Shift, we’re committed to empowering the women in our team through opportunities in leadership and professional development. As disruptors in an industry that is predominantly full of men, we are committed to building a team where everyone can feel welcomed, connected, and engaged as equal partners.
In honor of International Women’s Day and the hashtag #PressForProgress, we asked some of the trailblazing women in our team to share their thoughts and insights about women in the workplace, and how their work impacts the lives of our customers and in shaping our company culture. Read on and get inspired!
Q1: What do you like the most about your work?
Kate Heddleston, Engineering Manager: What I like most about working at Shift is that every part of my job is fun. The team here is collaborative, especially across different functions. We have so much to do that you can work on anything! I love that my work is a combination of different things that interest me. I get to program, and help improve the technology product. I get to work on important processes in the engineering team that improve productivity and equality.
Mary Scipi, Head of Accounting: We having a saying here at Shift that it didn’t happen unless we can account for it. It’s rewarding to lead a team that plays an integral, collaborative role with all the functions at Shift.
Erica Burnett, Head of Design: I like building a marketplace, and all the interesting opportunities that presents for Design. I especially love that our marketplace is aiming to transform an industry not typically known for a stellar customer experience. We have the chance to really impress customers, and take care of them beyond their expectations.
Isabel Friedman, Product Manager: Nothing makes someone cringe faster than hearing “used car sales.” The visceral aversion is powerful. Here’s an industry that’s thrived on smoke and mirrors, discrimination, and inconvenience. I love doing work that brings much needed transparency, fairness, convenience — and joy — to an experience that’s so fraught.
Eva Wei, Growth and Business Intelligence Manager: I appreciate the diversity of projects. I have done everything from building analytical models and SQL views, to project managing a launch, to initiating an acquisition partnership, to creating content, and many more. I really enjoy figuring things out, so the ability to think through, create, and iterate across a variety of domains is very appealing.
Joyce Jang, Engineering Manager: I like how much I’m learning, not just technical skills, but also about the industry of car selling and buying. I’m learning how to best build the product that will have the most positive impact for our customers.
Michelle Wong, Buyer Insider Sales Team Lead: I like being able to develop and train people on my team.
Kristin Montanari, Acquisitions Team Lead: I love my team and the amazing people at this company! The dogs in the office are a huge plus.
Irene Khech, Georgia Team Lead: I love setting up new processes in this startup environment. I have grown and developed my skills with Shift for the past few years.
Q2: How does your work impact life and company culture at Shift?
Kate: My team is currently working on improving how we do experiments. It’s a really fun problem, because it impacts everyone here at the company. Every team runs experiments when they’re thinking of building a new feature, or actually launching a finished feature to make sure that everything we’re building has a positive impact on customer experience. Being able to help improve such a fundamental part of our engineering is both fun and meaningful.
Mary: I view my work as being the “enabler” for Shift to scale and grow in a profitable way. We have a 360-degree interface with employees, customers, vendors, board members, tax authorities, bankers, auditors, and each one of them is important.
Erica: I hope that I can help our team to think beyond the obvious, to ask questions, and to consider creative solutions to customer problems.
Isabel: I enjoy the challenge of creating common ground among divergent viewpoints, negotiating trade-offs, and making plans that our whole team can get behind to solve customer problems. I like to think that that my collaborative and customer-focused working style makes working much more enjoyable.
Eva: My work touches multiple teams, so I’ve enjoyed getting to know people across the company, from Engineering, to Product, to Sales, to Operations, to Legal, to Recon. With my analytical background, I like to challenge coworkers to think more analytically and strategically about their projects, from both a macro and micro level. Building these relationships bolsters the sense of camaraderie as we work through problems together, fosters knowledge sharing across teams, and creates a more close-knit culture.
Joyce: I just recently joined, so I’ve been pretty heads down getting ramped up. I hope to contribute a lot more to the team and product soon!
Michelle: Since I’m very process driven, I help to improve the teams workflow through optimizing the queue, developing best practices, and also provide ongoing training to ensure the success of the team.
Kristin: My goal is to let my team acquire cars. I want to take all the busy work and all the escalations off their hands, so they can be as efficient and as capable as possible.
Irene: The Georgia team is a huge part of Shift operations. Our main job is to support operations to enable certain teams to become more efficient.
Q3: How does your work impact the lives of our customers?
Mary: We have an important relationship with our customers. We ensure that all customer transactions are accounted for correctly, and any post-sale customer payments are handled efficiently and on time.
Erica: Buying a car can be a stressful experience. It’s a big purchase, and you don’t want to make the wrong decision, or feel like you paid more than what is fair. The work we do on the Product team empowers customers to make smart decisions, and to feel confident in their choices. We work to make sure customers know more than they expected we’d tell them. We want them to easily find the information they need, and feel good that they’ve bought the right car for them.
Isabel: Selling your car is a royal pain! I’m helping to build a process that is convenient, less anxiety-inducing than the options out there today. It’s a long time coming in a very broken industry.
Eva: Buying and selling cars is traditionally seen as tedious and shady. My role helps change that perception, and directly contributes to growing the company. From educating consumers about how to pay for their car to deep-diving into the customer journey to help customers find what they want, I am helping to bring our transparent, delightful car experience to even more customers and larger areas.
Joyce: Buying a car is a big decision. Sometimes, it can be an intimidating and overwhelming experience. Our goal is to improve that experience so that our customers can purchase their cars with confidence and they are making the right choice for themselves with the best possible deals.
Michelle: My work provides customers an easier alternative to the traditional dealership route. Providing great customer service and transparency in order to help customers make the best car buying decision.
Kristin: My work makes selling your car transparent and easy! We do not want people to be scared or intimidated of selling their car. It should be a seamless process where you do not feel like you are being taken advantage of.
Irene: Our work stays behind the scenes, but I think that our pricing, merchandising, and user happiness teams all work super hard to deliver the best service that we promise to our customers.
Q4: What perception would you like to change about today’s working woman?
Kate: I would love to change that powerful women are seen as pushy, that women who speak up are seen as aggressive, and that women who are confident are seen as arrogant. It would be nice if the world would allow women to be powerful and warm, competent and likable, outspoken and friendly. It’s exhausting, having to always calculate the trade-off you’re making by taking up space, whether physically, emotionally, or intellectually.
Mary: I think work-life balance was seen exclusively as a “women’s problem”, specifically one faced by mothers. These days, we see more men raising work-life balance issues. Family-supportive policies, which enable women to remain and progress in paid employment and encourage men to take their fair share of care work, are important to achieving gender equality at work.
Erica: I’d like to see a shift in the perception that women need to communicate like men or relate to men in order to be successful. There are many ways to be a strong, effective leader, and I think there’s room for more than a couple of leadership styles.
Isabel: That they bear the burden of advancing diversity and inclusion in the tech industry alone. I encourage women to recruit their male co-workers to dedicate time and resources to even the playing field, as many women do more on top of their day-to-day responsibilities. A rising tide raises all boats!
Eva: I strongly dislike the double standard where strong-willed men are seen as authoritative or assertive, whereas strong-willed women are seen as bossy, boastful, or aggressive. Unfortunately, this is how both men and women think. I look forward to the day when women are encouraged and allowed to speak up and negotiate without repercussions, including subconsciously. We shouldn’t have to be caught in the trap of having to choose between being seen as nice or competent.
Joyce: That our efforts for equal treatment and opportunity are in some way at the expense of those of men. In my mind, we only progress by working together. The future that we hope for is a future that isn’t just bright and wonderful for women, but absolutely for men too.
Michelle: I’d like to change the perception that women lack knowledge in certain industries that are predominantly male, like the automotive industry which Shift is in.
Kristin: That we are no different than a working man. It would be strange if there was someone, in my generation, that didn’t even have a job.
Irene: It is often argued that women lack confidence in the workplace. But as more and more women take on occupations, industries, and roles that were previously regarded as men’s, this perception could change very soon.
Q5: And now for something more light. What do you like to do outside of work?
Kate: I mostly sleep, exercise, and hang out with my small, grumpy dog. I love ocean swimming at Aquatic Park, and then getting sourdough bread at Boudin Bakery afterwards. It’s so cliche San Francisco, but it’s so much fun.
Mary: I’ve never had a bad weekend! I enjoy many things such as hiking, yoga, and lately, reserved movie seating in those fully-reclining chairs.
Erica: I enjoy spending time with my husband and daughter. She’s two and it’s a pretty amazing age, as they’re learning to communicate and develop their imagination. Beyond that, I enjoy painting, trying new restaurants, reading, and hiking.
Isabel: Spending time in the ocean gives me enormous joy and peace of mind. Open water swimming, surfing, and traveling.
Eva: I am a big foodie, so I love exploring the restaurant and cocktail scene. I also love planning trips, from visiting friends to exploring a new country. I also plan to complete a half-marathon this year.
Joyce: I love playing sports, being active, and being outdoors, enjoying the beautiful California weather.
Michelle: I love working on my blog, learning how to code, and cooking
Kristin: I love working out and playing basketball.
Irene: I enjoy traveling and extreme outdoor activities, like skydiving and bungee jumping.