As the chief technology officer of fashion and lifestyle e-tailer Zalora, Silvia Thom is naturally in charge of a lot. She drives the vision, strategy, innovation and execution of Zalora’s tech portfolio across Asia, and oversees its customer-facing products such as the websites, mobile apps as well as internal systems used by the company’s operations, logistics, customer service and buying departments—all that is crucial in supporting the business as a whole.
There’s nothing unusual about a woman being capable of rising to a top-management role in this day and age, of course, but what’s uniquely challenging about Thom’s job is that it is in technology, a field of work that has traditionally favoured men over women, in terms of perceived suitability for the role.
But Thom is proof that a woman can be equally, if not more, competent than a man in a male-dominated industry, and that preconceptions relating to gender—whether towards men or women—have no place in the modern workplace and today’s society. We talk to her and learn more about her personal career journey, what led her to make technology her area of expertise, and how she juggles life and work.
What sparked your interest in the technology field?
Silvia Thom (ST) While I have always been curious about working in tech, it was a gradual and organic process that led me to where I am today.
Before I entered the technology field, I had actually worked in a range of diverse roles that took me all around the globe. For example, after graduating from university, I first worked at Sony Music in London, and had a brief stint at Electronic Arts’ European localisation centre in Madrid, Spain. My interest in the music industry prevailed, so I then turned to the digital world of product management with music crowd-funding platform SellABand.
Eventually, I started craving for a work environment that would provide more room for growth and career opportunities. That was when I joined the beauty subscription service company Glossybox in Berlin, overseeing their tech product portfolio across more than 20 markets at the time.
It was my first exposure to e-commerce and hyper-growth companies, and I really enjoyed the experience of navigating such a fast-paced industry, so moving to Zalora eight years ago was a natural decision. I joined the company as a Senior Product Manager in 2013, and have since continued to pursue my passion in tech and in using it to elevate consumer experiences.