Wanda Ma is aiding Sephora’s digital transformation, from Omni Channel capabilities to backend business applications. The senior vice president of technology is responsible for modernizing and digitizing the entire back office (supply chain, ERP, automation, and employee experience) for one of the biggest names in personal care and beauty. But that’s only one part of Ma’s impact.
The SVP is a natural advocate. The National Diversity Council named her as one of the “Top 50 Women in Technology,” and she landed on Women in Retail Circle Leadership’s “Top Women in Retail.” Then she was awarded the “Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business”’ by the San Francisco Business Times. Those accommodations are just as much about her mentorship and advocacy for other women as her three decades of proving strategic and tactical leadership across the information, tech, and retail spaces.
“I believe in advancing women in technology and encouraging more diversity in leadership,” Ma explains. “With diversity in leadership, especially in technology, broader perspectives and approaches can be brought to light in innovations, leadership, and problem solving.
“Many times, I have been able to help simplify a problem or advocate for something that would have been ignored.”Wanda Ma
“I have been in many situations where I am the only woman leader in a roomful of men having to offer a different approach to fixing a problem,” she continues. “Many times, I have been able to help simplify a problem or advocate for something that would have been ignored.”
At Sephora, Ma acts as a volunteer, speaker, and executive sponsor for the Women Who Tech ERG. She’s also a member of the diversity committee task force, participated in the Girls Who Code program, and is an advocate for Sephora’s tech summer internship programs.
Ma is also a board advisor for the Women in Retail Leadership Circle, whose mission is to foster leadership development for its members.
The SVP is a fierce advocate for creating more welcoming and inclusive environments for women and other underrepresented communities in leadership positions. Along with recommending interviewing more people whose backgrounds may not check more “traditional” boxes, Ma says employees need to be provided with mentors and structure to grow and feel supported.
“We need really think about how to be inclusive through our actions,” Ma says. “We also need women leaders to support and amplify other women in tech. That is why I helped create the ERG for women in tech at Sephora.”
“We also need women leaders to support and amplify other women in tech.”Wanda Ma
In her role today, Ma oversees a team of six direct reports, 140 full-time employees, and up to 300 contractors. It’s an optimal position from which the executive can help drive change in her industry and provide more opportunities for those who may have been overlooked in the past.
For those earlier in their careers, Ma says it’s incredibly important to be confident in one’s abilities. She advocates taking risks, building allies, and never hesitating to ask for help.
“Pick an area that you want to make a difference in,” the SVP says. “Learn and don’t give up. Take every role as an opportunity because you never know where it might lead.”