1stdibs CPO on Career Path (Part 3)
When looking at your career path, the focus should not be on where you are today. Instead, you need to think about where you want to be after your current job. With this, you can create a path forward much earlier on in your career. For example, I knew that I wanted to work in China and made sure that I worked at companies that allowed me to do so.
Similarly, if your goal is to become a C-suite executive, you need to understand what it’s like to walk in those shoes. With this, I will share some examples of what my day-to-day as a Chief Product Officer.
First and foremost, my job is all about people. From hiring new talent to team building, a big part of my daily routine is cultivating our work environment. In addition, being a CPO requires working in process development. I personally do not love handling process. However, it’s a vital part of my responsibility to ensure that our team is on the same page.
Finally, executives must create strategies to provide direction for the business. Your responsibility is no longer about execution. It’s all about finding gaps in the business model to ensure that your strategy can succeed.
While it’s very exciting to get a promotion or become an executive, this is only the beginning of your new path. I learned this the hard way and I first traveled to China for work. When I arrived in Shanghai, I was asked to present our latest product release in Chinese. Since leaving China for the US at age 9, my Chinese was extremely limited. I only knew how to talk about food and other non-tech items. After suffering through an embarrassing 45-minute talk, it serves as a reminder of working toward goals that go beyond simply “getting to the start line.”
The real work starts when your career path leads to a new role. While I have achieved my lifelong goal of becoming a CPO, I will be the first to admit that it’s way harder than I thought it would be. From managing teams to setting strategy, it’s a much experience than being a director. In the end, this keeps me motivated to continuously learn and improve as an executive.
About the speaker
Xiaodi Zhang joined 1stdibs.com as the first product hire. Over the last six years, she has led the transformation of the luxury marketplace and helped grow the company from 350 today. As CPO, Xiaodi manages the Product and Design organizations. Her responsibilities include leading the annual strategy planning process and developing the right frameworks and tools to ensure success at 1stdibs. Along the way, she has built a team of nearly 30 rockstar product managers and designers. Prior to 1stdibs, Xiaodi held leadership positions at Gilt and eBay. While at eBay, she spent five invaluable years in Shanghai, learning first hand the importance of grit, scale and competition.
About the host
Andrea is the VP of Product and Engineering at One Kings Lane, a digital-first resource for making your home an expression of your personal style. She has spent over fifteen years in Product and Tech, and has led teams at startups and Fortune 500 companies, including Rent the Runway, Zappos, Time Warner, and Verizon. Andrea is passionate about solving hard (seemingly impossible) challenges, developing simple yet delightful products, building teams of entrepreneurial critical thinkers, and creating strategic outcomes with impact. She is a hands-on leader with a player/coach style, diving into the details with her team to partner, advise, and guide them to success.