E-commerce specialist Deborah Lepunski worked for a prestigious group like M6 before joining Woom, a startup specialized in leisure reservation. In this interview, Deborah explained how this COVID period shook up her industry and the challenge she faced working for home and having two kids.
Hello Deborah 👋 Tell us who you are!
After graduating from ESSEC Business School, I joined M6 Web, the web division of the national French TV channel M6, as a product manager. I stayed there for two years before joining Aufeminin, a French website for women. I was the website’s product manager for six years. Then, when they created a new e-commerce business, I became an e-commerce manager. Even as one of the most popular French websites, people are usually surprised to learn that there is an e-commerce division as well. They sell beauty and food-based subscription boxes.
Shortly after the birth of my second child, I started freelancing as an e-commerce consultant. I advised small companies to enterprises and everything in between on analytics and improving their conversion funnels.
Today, I manage customer acquisition and UX at Woom, a click & book platform for leisure activities throughout France. It’s quite funny how I started my latest adventure with Woom. Guillaume, one of the co-founders, was a friend from ESSEC Business School who contacted me one day for advice, and after some time, I eventually joined the team.
What challenges did you face during the Paris lockdown 🔐?
The first challenge is to have professional success while raising my young children because they are always demanding my time.
Then, Woom was entirely disrupted by COVID as people no longer could or wanted to book activities. We first had to adapt our modes of communication, and I have a pretty glaring example. I automated everything with our CRM to send messages automatically. Then, this morning, I received an inflammatory email from a client because the subject of my automatic email had become out of context. With this crisis, I am learning to manually send messages to our customers and not automate everything.
We also need to restructure our team management to adjust to the interns’ needs, who always want to work on several projects simultaneously.
With the crisis, internal communication did not change too much because we were already frequently working remotely. For example, our developer is based in Tunisia. Our way of communicating is quite robust, and we will keep it after the crisis. However, our projects were really shaken up, so we have adjusted our activities to take them day-by-day.
What are your tips for staying productive during this strange time?
It is, first and foremost, a question of time management. It’s challenging to have the same productivity as before. At Woom, everyone continues to work hard, and it pushes me to keep up. A friend in my neighborhood who moved out of her Paris apartment opened it to me to use as a small office to create a productive work atmosphere. I have two young children, and it is not easy to keep pace when working at home.x
Do you have a podcast to recommend 🎧?
I love business podcasts. I recommend Growth Makers;, it is an interview format in French. The people interviewed are always incredible. Whether it is B2B or B2C topics, there is always something to learn from it, especially the questions: what are your biggest failures, and what are your biggest successes? I love learning marketing stacks of successful startups, as well. Automation is a subject that fascinates me.
On the whole other side, I think Slate Transfer, another French podcast, is also fantastic. It is a 45-minute monologue format where a stranger tells their story. What fascinates me is that these are always ordinary people to whom unusual things happen. The first episode is about a regular man who started to spy on his neighbors.
I also enjoy the French podcast Les balls sur la table. Production is excellent, and each episode has an interesting point of view on subjects such as feminism or sexism.
I’m a little less proud of it, but I like listening to Christophe Ondelatte’s podcast, a French television host, on horrible murder stories. It’s interesting to find out how the criminals get caught by the authorities. It’s always in an unexpected way.
Which book impacted and why ?
I would have to say the French book A Little Treatise on Manipulation for Honest People by Robert-Vincent Joule and Jean-Léon Beauvois. It is a book that popularized the field of social psychology in France. It cannot be read like a novel. Nonetheless, it is an excellent introduction to cognitive biases and was my first exposure to the topic. I found that it was relatively easy to change someone’s perception and behavior. In retrospect, I tell myself that this book is ultimately why I specialized in user experience!
Cite me an article that you particularly liked recently 📖 ?
I am a big fan of Medium. “Hammer and the Dance” by Tomas Peyo is an article that made me realize the magnitude of the COVID pandemic long before the containment measures began.
Another lighter article, “What Everyone is Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage,” explains how the shortage of toilet paper is mainly due to a supply chain problem. The biggest buyers of toilet paper are typically businesses, which use larger rolls. Demand on the business side dropped suddenly but spiked dramatically on the consumer side, causing the problem. There was plenty of toilet paper, but it was packaged for bathroom stalls in businesses instead of for at-home consumption.