Lead(H)er Profile - Tzipi Avioz, Executive Vice President Customer Success at Mirakl
Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?
I grew up in Israel, also known as the Startup Nation. It’s one of the most innovative places in the world, and where I think I got my “never give up” mentality. Growing up among people who are really collaborative and open to building on ideas together is what made me who I am today.
As a kid, I was never afraid to take on a challenge, and was always encouraged by my parents. My family jokes that ever since I was a toddler they knew that I’d be a leader – I was always the one at family events who was planning activities for all the cousins, and making sure that everyone was included.
Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?
I had to start by serving on the Intelligence team (known as 8200) in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Being a member of the IDF is something that defines life in Israel. At 18 and a half years old, I managed a team of 20 people. Not many have the opportunity to get that experience at such a young age. It was really formative for me.
My work at Shufersal, Israel’s largest supermarket chain, was the defining moment where I fell in love with retail. It gave me exposure to many different areas of the retail industry – I started as a checkout operator, worked my way up to become a deputy store manager in less than six months, and eventually stepped into a corporate role. Doing all these roles helped me learn very quickly what makes retail tick, and the opportunity to move into the head office to an operations and technology role really set me on the path that I’m still on today.
Fast forward to a few years later, I became the CIO of Tiv Taam Group, one of the most innovative retailers in Israel, which at the time was experiencing aggressive growth. That role was the entry point into a brand new phase of my career, because it led me into a new opportunity with Woolworths Australia. When I went to Woolworths, it was the first of three times in my career where I jumped to a different kind of role at a new company. I had a senior development manager title, and to be honest some of my friends couldn’t believe I was choosing to move from C-level to a manager. But I am always grateful that I had the opportunity and I was open to try this new role, in a new company and country. I spent a decade of my career at Woolworths, guiding the company through its store and online retail development, becoming a leader and expert in the company’s digital tools, and managing large teams of 150 to 300 people. Every day was a learning moment.
There have been a couple of other moves like that one, ultimately landing me where I am today at Mirakl. Mirakl has huge potential: I’m very passionate about what the company offers and what it delivers. It’s been a great way to build on my experience and my career background, and most importantly for me, I’m learning new things each day. That is what makes my role even more exciting.
What is your current role and responsibilities?
I’m the executive vice president of customer success at Mirakl, which offers best-in-class software for companies launching third-party online marketplaces. One of the most important things that Mirakl brings to our customers, in addition to our software, is an unparalleled level of expertise on marketplaces. And our customer success team is a huge part of that.
I lead our customer success team for clients in the Americas and APAC, like Urban Outfitters, HPE, and Best Buy Canada, and work very closely with executives to guide them through every stage of their time with Mirakl. In many cases, that starts even before they sign on to become a customer. We’ll help with implementation and launch, and we’re also a partner for them as they grow their marketplace business. Building those relationships is absolutely key to Mirakl’s success.
Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally? Was it always your goal to be in this position?
The only clear vision of what I wanted my career to look like 10 or 20 years into the future was to do what I love. My view has always been, if I am enjoying it and passionate about what I can offer and what the role offers me, if I am challenged and learning – that's what I want to do. Once you have that mindset, you open up all sorts of possibilities for yourself to use your (diversified) skills. It allows you to follow your passions, and for me, that’s where I’ve seen real fulfillment in my career.
To be honest, I think that sometimes the traditional career advice with the five-year and 10-year plans can put you into a box. I can say truthfully that looking back, each of the roles I’ve held taught me something different that has brought me to where I am today.
For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?
First and foremost, when you’re looking at a new opportunity, don’t stress too much about what it will look like on your resume. Think about what really gets you excited to go to work every day, how the role will impact you, and how you’ll make an impact within the organization. There have been a couple of times in my career where I’ve made a move that some people would call a step down, or a lateral move. Those have been some of the most formative experiences on my resume.
Personally, I’ve held a lot of different roles in different industries, and the connecting thread between all of them is interaction with customers. That goes for my first job as a checkout operator and as a CIO. That’s true for the time I spent at Woolworths focused on the retail experience. And of course, that’s true in my work in customer success.
I might sound a little cliche, but it’s a cliche for a reason: don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, and step up to new opportunities, even when you don’t feel you’re 100% ready for it. That goes especially for women. My mother has this saying – “never a failure, always a learning.” You’ve probably heard the statistic that men apply for roles they’re 60% qualified for on paper, but women only apply for roles they’re 100% qualified for. Confidence is an important factor there, of course. But so is being afraid of failure.
What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?
I’d start by saying proactiveness. Our customers keep us on our toes! I’m constantly working to anticipate challenges, understand strategies, and make connections so that every conversation is useful and meaningful for everyone involved.
Accountability is really important. You have to be able to own your mistakes and your successes, and take responsibility for your efforts. That’s key for any customer-focused role.
And then of course, relationship-building. This role is all about keeping our customers in the center of everything we do, and serving as true advisors to them as they work to achieve their goals. Developing strong relationships with them is critical to that success. When you trust and understand each other, it makes the rest easier.
What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work? What’s most challenging?
I’d have the same answer for both, actually. When our customers are successful, Mirakl is successful. It has created a really rewarding environment for me and for the rest of my team: we enter into the relationship with that in mind.
But it’s not always an easy thing to achieve. The projects we work on are tough and ambitious. Companies come to us with the idea that they’re transforming their businesses. Some of these businesses have been around for more than a hundred years, they have thousands of employees, and lots of “big company” mentalities. We’re supporting them through a transition into a new business model, a different way of operating and to be agile. It makes things both more challenging and more rewarding when we succeed.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
I am so proud of the teams that I’ve built. It’s one of my greatest passions. Finding the right balance of people with different, complementary skillsets to do the work isn’t easy, but when you get it right, it has such an impact. Even now, many of the teams that I helped build in my previous roles are still together. That’s so rewarding to see.
Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?
I’ve benefited in countless ways from mentors who helped me through all sorts of professional challenges and triumphs. That’s the area where I try to give the most back. I actively mentor a number of women who are at different stages of their careers, specifically in STEM-focused industries. I’ve also participated as a mentor with Day of STEM at LifeJourney, where students get to test-drive future STEM careers and develop new skills to help them find their own passion. And finally, I’ve worked with startup CEOs to help them build and develop to their next growth phase, so that their businesses get the kind of guidance that has been so beneficial to me.
What’s next for you and your career?
Right now, my focus is on continuing to build and strengthen Mirakl’s customer success team here in the Americas. We have such a great group of experts here, but as our business grows scalability is key, there’s so much more that
can be done! (And by the way, I have to mention that we’re hiring!)
Mirakl customers join experts from the Mirakl Customer Success team for a meeting of the User Advisory Board
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Work keeps me very busy, so I try to keep things simple in my free time: reading (especially books focused on leadership and business strategy), doing puzzles and of course, spending time with my family.
How do you manage stress?
When I’m dealing with something stressful, I try to give myself space to step away from it so that I can process it at a different time – I find that it helps me to approach things with a cool head. Yoga helps. Walks on the beach. And making time for myself to focus on something else, so that I can come back to a challenge with a clean slate.
How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?
Two – but I have to say that the coffee here doesn’t compare to what you can get in Australia. I miss flat whites!
What's one of your favorite places in the Boston area?
No question, it has to be Cape Cod – every time we cross the bridge, I get excited. It immediately feels like “my happy place.” We are lucky enough to be able to spend some time there a few times a year as a family.
Any book or podcast recommendations?
I just finished reading Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. You absolutely don’t have to be a business leader to appreciate the learnings she shares. Everyone should read it – it’s applicable to so many different parts of life, not just work.