LeTisha Shaw ’99 Brings the Voice of the Customer to Life
A deep sense of curiosity about the world and how it works led LeTisha Shaw ’99 to the study of mechanical engineering. She continued to follow her interests through career roles at Merck, The Walt Disney Company and Evernote. As Director of Product Marketing for UserTesting, Shaw is drawing on her Stevens education, varied work experience and an innate gift for storytelling to help companies create better experiences for their customers.
LeTisha Shaw ’99 was fascinated by mechanical engineering (ME) in high school. “ME touches on so many disciplines and employs a systems thinking approach to solve problems,” she explains. “I loved understanding cause and effect and being able to design how objects move.”
After studying Shaw’s high school transcript, a high school guidance counselor suggested a summer engineering program at Rutgers. “At first I didn’t want to go,” she says with a laugh. “But I ended up really enjoying it – the learning, the lab work and the presentations. I liked seeing tangible results of my efforts.”
The guidance counselor then suggested applying to Stevens, where Shaw was offered a full scholarship. “I was fortunate to be a Stevens-Exxon Scholar, which included an academic scholarship to Stevens, plus paid internships and mentoring at Exxon” she says. “During the program, I formed close relationships with my mentors and we are still in touch to this day!”
At Stevens, Shaw developed a more complete vision of who she was going to be as a professional, and as a person. “Stevens taught me how to be resourceful,” she says. “The academic course load was intense, and with my involvement in sports and other extracurricular activities, it was critical to manage my time well.”
“I also learned how to work with people who have different backgrounds, interests and approaches, through my involvement in the Stevens community,” she continues, noting that she was a scholar-athlete and member of the Black Student Union.
In fact, during the course of her Stevens career, Shaw served as captain of both the Women’s Basketball and Soccer teams as well as captain of the Track and Field team. In 1998, she earned the Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sports Scholar Award.
She has particularly fond memories of working with the Ethnic Student Council and the Black Student Union to present a skit about the history of Black music, dance and culture through time. “There were performances from different points in history– African music, blues, jazz and funk through more modern genres,” she recalls. “I enjoyed being the director and showcasing the talent in our community. It was very rewarding to help others find the confidence to perform on stage.”
That diversity of experience in her college years led to diversity of experience in her professional career. After completing a two-year leadership development program at Merck, Shaw became Franchise Manager, Resource & Decision Management at the Fortune 100 pharmaceutical corporation. “At Merck, I learned about the discipline of long-term business planning, and best practices for making investment decisions in product development portfolios,” she says.
Shaw, who has also earned an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering-Biomechanics from Stanford University as well as an MBA, Marketing Strategy from University of Michigan, is a breakthrough leader who takes on complex challenges and develops solutions to help companies realize value. “This is where the systems thinking approach meets storytelling,” she says.
Although her career experiences have been varied, Shaw wouldn’t have it any other way. “Every experience helps to form and shape who I’ve become,” she says. “It is a perspective I developed at Stevens. And when I had doubts, one of my mentors assured me that success would follow pursuing problems I am interested in solving. She opened my eyes to new possibilities.”
As Senior Manager, Piracy Intelligence & Behavior Strategy at The Walt Disney Company, Shaw developed her expertise in market research and competitive intelligence to inform marketing, sales, and distribution strategies for movie and TV studios. She founded a team to bring these insights into the company’s strategic process to mitigate revenue risk during a time of digital transformation.
Her next stop was Evernote, a startup tech company, where she started in Product Marketing and transitioned to Product Management on the Growth team. “Working at a startup was quite different from my previous experiences. At Evernote, I had direct line of sight to the impact of my team’s work. The levers for successful companies that deliver subscription software services are quite different from physical products and experiences.”
In her current role as Director of Product Marketing at UserTesting, Shaw joined the tech company while it was scaling up, before it became a public company. But while product marketing at Evernote has a direct-to-consumer model, UserTesting has a business-to-business focus.
“We provide a solution for companies to get video feedback and insights from customers about their experiences,” she explains. “ UserTesting makes it easier for companies to make more informed decisions to improve their products, brands and services.“ In her role, she is responsible for bringing new cross-platform product features, packaging, pricing models, professional services, and security solutions to market, as well as running adoption campaigns to fuel user growth.
As a regular contributor to panels organized by the Stevens Technical Enrichment Program (STEP) and the Lore-El Center, Shaw is lighting the path for the next generation of dynamic leaders. “It is so important for women and people of color to see that there are many options available for them to find success,” she says. “I enjoy helping others to find their path.”
“As a student, I found it extremely helpful when alumni would come to Stevens to talk about their careers,” Shaw adds. “I’m glad to see that students today are more focused on their values and finding new paths for careers. My career hasn’t followed a traditional path, and I’ve been the first person in most of the jobs I’ve had. What’s my advice to my younger self? It’s not easy to be a trailblazer and forge your own path, but it’s very rewarding to do so. Trust your instincts and believe in yourself. Ask for help when you need it. Don’t let anything or anyone block your path. When there is a will, there is a way..”