Joyce Schofield was born and raised in Kenya before moving to the United States nearly twenty years ago. Today, she works out of Dallas, Texas as Senior product lead in Shopify, specializing in returns and exchanges.

“There is so much opportunity in ecommerce,” she said. “Which translates to lots of opportunities to innovate and rethink how we support our merchants to create better shopping experiences.”

Her self-proclaimed roundabout journey to product was rooted in a desire to solve complex problems. From web development to quality assurance and senior product roles, Joyce’s career is marked by an innate curiosity – and a natural ability to lead.

“It’s been a holistic journey,” she said. “I’ve had roles in IT Audit, release management, testing, partnerships – to name a few. These experiences give me confidence in my intuition.”

Early life and career.

Joyce didn’t grow up with access to technology, a simple truth that may have scared those with a faint of heart to never pursue a career in it – but Joyce is far more courageous than to let that limit her dreams.

“Internet cafes and typing classes were my first introduction to computers. In fact, I didn’t have a personal  computer until I was in college,” she said. “By then, I was fascinated by how computing worked and decided to pursue my computer science degree; I loved the idea of creating something with code.”

Upon graduating from Park University, she began her career in telecommunications where her love for technology and problem solving continued to grow. 

Her passion for inclusivity and mentoring young female leaders.

That’s when certain realities began to unveil. She was often the only BIPOC female in the room, a sentiment she didn’t fully realize until later in her career. 

“Looking back, it was challenging to gain upward mobility in the tech world dominated by male leaders,” she said. “My main focus was my career and excelling in my roles. It took me years to realize that unlocking upward mobility was not based on merit alone or working harder than my peers.”

It was discouraging at times seeing her peers receiving promotions faster than her; a unique juxtaposition because she felt the level of expectation placed upon her was exceedingly demanding.

“Early in my career, I wasn’t in the circle,” she said. “So I wasn’t aware of new opportunities. Today I’m wiser, and recognize the importance of striking a balance between performance and span of influence.”

Overcoming challenges and paying it forward.

No journey is linear, and no one is defined by the challenges they face, but rather by the manner in which they overcome them – and Joyce is no exception. 

She sought out mentorship, a catalyst that would ultimately reinvent how she approached her career.

“I feel very lucky, looking back now, that I always had a mentor or a leader who was willing to both challenge and sort of sponsor my career growth.”

“Mentorship helped unblock my mindset,” she said. “I didn’t have to do this alone, I could seek help and learn from those around me.”

Here a few lessons she’s learned throughout her career:

  • Personal brand: Understand what it is you want to be known for.
    Joyce, for example, realized she was a servant leader and a coach at heart. She is also energized by solving problems, and adding value motivates her. Once she understood this about herself, she began actively seeking environments where that could be cultivated. Today, this is one of the main lessons she shares with others.

  • Know your worth: Both personally and professionally.
    Today, there’s plenty of information available regarding demographics, job expectations, and salary – use this to understand if you’re being fairly compensated. But, as Joyce put it, titles and salaries aren’t everything. Do you have a strong sense of belonging? Are you in an environment where you’re not only growing but thriving? These are important questions to ask yourself.

  • Create your career: Develop a path and begin networking.
    It is important to be intentional about your career path; be willing to take risks and seek out challenging opportunities. Once she developed her ideal career path, she took steps to make that happen. Joyce’s drive to become more aware of opportunities and to build a circle of like minded practitioners led her to be the founder of  the DFW Product Group to bring product professionals together to teach, learn from, and network with each other.
  • Understand success: Know what success looks like for you.
    Success means different things to different people, and understanding what it means for you can be of great benefit. It is important to be intentional about what you would like to achieve. What does success look like in a big meeting? At the end of the quarter? In a year? For your career?
  • Find strong mentors: Seek help from industry professionals.
    Seek mentorship with intention. Remember, mentorship is a two-way road: You need a mentor willing to guide you and provide honest feedback, and as a mentee, you must reciprocate that level of effort with respect, openness, and a willingness to do the work. For Joyce, mentorship allows her to not only push herself, but to pay it forward in return.

Settling in at Shopify.

Today, Joyce finds herself as a mentor far more often than as a mentee – a welcomed dynamic shift. Her role at Shopify enables her to facilitate the growth and development of her team while chasing tangible results.

“We work to make commerce better for everyone by offering seamless out-of-the-box features that are helpful,” she said. “Shopify is truly committed to merchant success.”

Her servant leadership style is both inclusive and empowering. She often seeks opportunities to let her team present their work to upper leadership, creating the visibility she so often felt was missing for her early in her career.

“It’s not just putting your team in front of leadership,” she said. “But helping them prepare for those moments or presentations. It has to be intentional. They need to be ready so they can walk away with a positive and strong sense of accomplishment; ultimately that they also feel empowered to be impactful.”

She feels supported, trusted, and valued at Shopify, which allows her to dive deep into problems and seek innovative solutions with enthusiasm. In nearly two years, she’s gone from the first product manager leading post-purchase initiatives to now managing four product managers – all while driving incremental impact and value, which has also led to the growth  of their engineering, user-experience, and data science teams.

“When I’m hiring,” she said. “I’m looking for diverse talent that aligns with our team’s gaps, culture, and roadmap. I don’t need group thinkers: I need fresh eyes and perspectives.” 

Her day-to-day is marked by that same passion for technology, problem solving, and team building that she’s felt for years. Building a product from zero to one, and building a team from zero to one invigorates her creativity and desire to improve Shopify’s out-of-the-box capabilities.

“Once we realized merchants were struggling to manage returns on their own,” she said. “We began working on a solution. That’s where my relationship with Loop began. Their ability to help growing Shopify businesses streamline their returns make them a valuable partner – because we’re all working toward the same end-goal together: Making merchants successful.”