We wanted to give you a behind the scenes look at the folks that are driving the next generation of shopping innovation – here at Westfield Labs. In our new “Behind the scene ” series, we’ll introduce you to the talented, smart and just plain awesome members of our team. To kick-off the series, today we’ve invited Alex Wong, Director of Product Marketing (@alexkaiwong) to give us an insider’s look into his typical day at Labs, why he loves it and what inspires him.
Q. Why did you join Westfield Labs? What was the path that brought you here?
A. Believe it or not, I started as an intern at Westfield in 2006. I was interested in marketing, and digital marketing especially piqued my interest. Remember, this was 2006 – Facebook was still brand new! – and not a lot of companies were embracing digital marketing quite yet. Westfield was on the cutting edge and it was exciting to get my foot in the door.
Over the next few years, I worked at three different Westfield properties in Connecticut, and then landed at the corporate headquarters in LA working as part of the digital marketing group. As digital and social and mobile became bigger and bigger players in the marketing space, the idea of Westfield Labs started to take shape, and about a year ago I found myself moving San Francisco, the heart of the industry, to help bring Labs to life.
Q. What would we find you doing at 10 a.m. on a typical work day?
A. I try to take time every day to read up on the news and keep my finger on the pulse of the tech and retail industries. TechCrunch is one of my go-to sites because they report on what’s brand new in the tech space.
Right now, I’m working on a top secret project (stay tuned for more info soon!), a global publishing platform for our centers, and an analytics dashboard, so I’d also likely be diving into any one of these projects.
Q. What are some of the things you love about Westfield Labs
A. People that work here are truly specialists in their field, so you can learn something from everyone and each of us has something unique and important to contribute. We live by the “Work Hard, Play Hard” mentality here at Westfield Labs and everyone has the chance to raise their hand and find a place to shine. I’ve been given so many great opportunities to try out new things and take risks.
Q. Where do you draw inspiration from when solving for the new retail world?
A. Westfield Labs is based on the 4th floor of Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre, so our customers are right outside our door. When I really want to know, “what is driving consumer behavior,” I just head out into the mall and talk to the actual customers – no one knows what drives a shopper or what they really want better than the shoppers themselves.
Q. What are your insider recs on places to shop, eat and/or relax at the mall?
A. I head downstairs to the Food Emporium or Restaurants Under the Dome almost every day for lunch. I really love the variety and that I can keep it fresh and interesting every day. In terms of insider recs I would say, learn your elevators! There are so many here in the mall and some only go to certain floors or bring you into certain stores (Stay tuned for a new service from Westfield Labs that will help with this).
Q. What is the hardest challenge you find in developing retail/shopping technologies?
A. Our biggest challenge – and the reason why Westfield Labs exists – is finding a way to bridge all the different Westfield properties and platforms worldwide to create a unified seamless experience. Westfield doesn’t want to be just another landlord to retailers – we want to create an experience that you get online and in-store no matter where or how you shop. Creating that unified point of view can be challenging, but I think we are leaps and bounds ahead of others in the industry and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Q. What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?
A. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and reach for your goals! Take risks, try something different, go after what you want – you’ll be surprised how receptive people are when you take a stand and go after what you want.