Story by Steve Neumann
Photo Courtesy of Brita Turner
Brita Turner ’04 seeks success for women in tech.
Brita Turner ’04, finance, believes every successful business focuses on three key components: infrastructure‚ data and culture. Infrastructure is the sum of the people‚ processes and technology of a business‚ while data is used to make informed long-term and daily decisions. Culture is the manner in which business leaders support the people who make those decisions.
The role an individual’s instinct plays in managing a business remains constant‚ while the role that technological innovations play in running a business is becoming increasingly important. New technological advancements are rolled out daily, offering more data to consume‚ and frequently inundating business leaders with more insights and decisions than ever before. The sheer amount of data that’s available can be overwhelming and lead to decision paralysis.
“I try to leverage data to inform every decision I make‚ but you learn more every day‚ meaning some decisions will be based on dated information‚ so you do the best you can in the moment to drive decisions‚” Turner says. “What matters is how you use that data‚ as well as your experience and those around you to iterate on the next decision‚ and then the next decision‚ and how you keep going.”
Learned from the Best
Turner‚ who also has an MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School‚ is a digital executive with over 20 years of experience at firms such as Amazon‚ Bed Bath & Beyond‚ Godiva‚ and IBM. Two years ago‚ she brought her consumer-centric and data-driven approach for decision making to eBay.
“When I started at eBay‚ I led the North America operational strategy team‚” Turner said‚ “and now I’m the general manager of Collectibles‚ Home & Mainstreet— one of eBay’s largest businesses.”
Turner can trace the path of her career success back to her summer internship in accounting at Johnson & Johnson as she headed into her senior year at Lehigh. That internship experience helped Turner land a job at IBM, working for a strategy group led by Lehigh alumnus Raymond Trakimas‚ ’76‚ engineering‚ ’77 MBA. Turner worked with Trakimas’ group for five years.
“I wouldn’t have gotten that job if it wasn’t for Lehigh and for Ray‚ who was amazing‚” Turner says‚ “and I wouldn’t have been equipped for that job if I hadn’t received the phenomenal business foundation that my Lehigh education provided.”
“Although I didn’t go on to be a corporate controller or CFO‚” Turner adds‚ “my business acumen coming out of Lehigh equipped me with the skills to manage a large P&L‚ including all functions of a business, in a cohesive and comprehensive way.”
Communities of Inclusion
In addition to her emphasis on the shrewd use of data and focus on the needs of her stakeholders‚ Turner spends a good deal of time bolstering the success of women in business‚ especially in the tech world. For example‚ Turner takes pride in being the president of Women @ eBay‚ one of the largest of the company’s “communities of inclusion.”
“I was fortunate to have a group of senior women guiding me throughout my career‚” she says. “That’s why I’m always excited to give back to women. I want to make sure women feel supported in whatever way they need, so they can be successful in their roles and advance their careers. There aren’t as many women executives in technology as I would like to see.”
Outside of eBay‚ Turner is an active member in Chief‚ a private network for women‚ that focuses on connecting and supporting executive leaders.
“I really love working in tech‚” Turner says. “I love the innovation and the pace‚ especially at eBay‚ where I’m not only able to run a very large business‚ but also able to give back to the eBay community by helping women become more successful.”