Leaning into Leadership: An interview with Eunice Shin
Eunice is a partner at Prophet, based in Los Angeles. In her consulting work, she’s a trailblazer. And as a native Angeleno and a UCLA grad, she’s the kind of trendspotter who seems made for L.A. She loves its diversity, and she is the cool insider you want to show you around the city. Eunice is as comfortable talking about the latest trends in AI and DTC as she is discovering the best tacos in Silver Lake. I always enjoy her unique take on emerging businesses. And since we are both the proud moms of three daughters, she’s got plenty to say about raising fierce women, too.
Amanda Nizzere: In your words, tell me what you do at Prophet.
Eunice Shin: I wear two leadership hats. One is leading our direct-to-consumer (DTC) consulting business, and the second is running our technology, media and telecom (TMT) vertical. I’ve spent the last 27 years consulting specifically in those areas. I’m a deep student, especially of the media and entertainment world — where it’s been, what runs it, where it’s going. (I’m pretty obsessed!) DTC is a big element of that, but we also work with direct-to-consumer companies outside of those industries.
AN: What led you to this career and Prophet?
ES: In college, I wanted to be a movie producer. I did every internship imaginable – I got coffee, picked up dry-cleaning, and went shopping for a producer’s wife. In my senior year, I got a job as the production manager on a pilot. I was so excited and thought I had finally “made it” when I scored that job. Day One, I showed up, and it was awful. It was a lot of people just sitting around. They weren’t excited. They didn’t want to be excellent. And I knew immediately it wasn’t for me. I felt like, `Now, what do I do? I spent the last four years trying to get this job, and I don’t like it.’ A friend said she was going to something called “Consulting Night”, which I had zero interest in, but he mentioned free pizza, and I was in. I met someone from what was then Andersen Consulting, who told me it was launching a new industry vertical in media and entertainment. It was very technology-focused, which was a big learning curve for me. I went from reading the Hollywood Reporter every day to learning to code.
I joined the firm, which was the beginning of so many interesting things for me. I helped build and launch the first disney.com, the first disneystore.com, electronicarts.com, and the first online gaming site.
It wasn’t just that I loved working in the space. It was that everything was new and emerging, and I gravitated to how consumer behaviors would change to follow new technologies. As I look back, that’s what’s held me in consulting for so long – always looking for what’s new, what’s coming out, and the connection to the customer. That’s where I thrive, trying to figure out the risks and the opportunities. I like being a trailblazer.
AN: Is there anybody who’s influenced the way that you’ve approached your career?
ES: What’s interesting and a little sad is that I don’t think I can look at my career and say I’ve had a mentor. Ever. I’ve had momentary coaches and people to coach me on different projects or at different firms. I’ve had to figure it out my way. As a result, I now spend a lot of time working with organizations that mentor young women, because I wish I’d had that.
I learned a lot from my parents. They were immigrants: My dad a chemical engineer; my mom a nurse. They were highly educated and skilled but couldn’t rise in their careers because of the cultural barrier. So they opened a Mexican meat market – naturally. It was hard work. They ran that business 14 hours a day, seven days a week, for 30 years. No vacations. Their business was often unstable, they got robbed many times at gunpoint. But I grew up seeing a strong level of resilience. They never gave up. They didn’t have a choice to not show up the next day. They had to open up the store. I saw that, and that’s how I am.
AN: Client work and building two new verticals is hard. Are there ways you make sure that you start and end your day, or habits that help you decompress?
ES: It is hard. And even though my daughters are older now – 20, 18 and 14 – it’s so much harder to be a working mom now than when they were little. I can’t fluff things over by reading them a book, with thoughts of the proposal I need to build in the back of my mind. They see through that now. My 14-year-old will be telling me a story about one of her friends, and in my head, I’m thinking about the 20 things I need to do and she will call me right out: `Mom, you’re not listening.’ If you don’t open up those moments for them to talk about what matters to them right now, they’ll stop trying. So, I’ve had to learn to shut off work to be more present with my family. Also at this stage of my career, I am a caretaker for my family and my parents. And also for my teams and my clients. It’s hard to find time to take care of myself. But the one time that I carve out is my evening skincare routine. It’s my only me time. It’s my way to end my day and reset my brain and body.
AN: If you could escape trade places with anyone for a day, who would you choose?
AN: If you could pick one age to be permanently, what would it be?
ES: 20. When you’re in college, it is the only time in your life when you are free to focus on yourself and your development. Before then, in your parents’ house, you’re not free. When I was in college, my worldview expanded. I met so many new different people. It was so much fun. And you don’t have to work yet.
Rapid Fire Questions
- First, how are you uncommon? That’s hard because I believe that, at the core, we’re alike in many ways. And what I love about human nature is that we’re all connected. We’re all the same. I feel like my commonality to others is my strength.
- Do you have a hidden talent or claim to fame? I can stand on my head for a long time. I’m not a yogi or anything, but it’s something I started as a kid.
- Favorite day of the year? Thanksgiving. It’s all about gratitude and being surrounded by my family. It doesn’t get better than that.
- Favorite place? Paris.
- What is one thing in business that no one talks about but should? A sustainable work pace. We’ve become accustomed to the amount of productivity that we squeeze in a day. I’ve been saying it isn’t healthy for the last five years. I don’t think it’s good for our mental well-being or physical health. There needs to be course correction or we’re going to implode. I think we have to figure it out.
- What charitable initiatives are you most passionate about? Preventing human trafficking. I work with several different programs. As I said earlier, mentorship is also vital to me. There are people I worked with ten years ago that I still meet with regularly. If there’s anything I can do to give back, that’s an area that I would love to make a dent in. I want to make it a better world for my daughters.
- What’s a wish you have for the future? For people to find their purpose. And once they see it, they have the means to follow it and find success. Having a more purpose-driven world will make this world a better place.
ABOUT THE SERIES
“Throughout my career, I have been fascinated with the building blocks of leadership, from motivation, coaching and communication to mentorship, empathy, inspiration and more. Unraveling and understanding what makes a strong and impactful leader tick can help us implement new strategies to grow as individuals and leaders. Over the years, I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, attended conferences and listened to TED Talks about various leadership topics, but some of the most impactful lessons and pieces of advice I’ve learned have been from those around me—my mentors, colleagues and industry peers—which led me to create this interview series. I invite you to join me as I interview various leaders in my network to share new tools and wise advice from them that you may want to add to your leadership toolbox.” – Amanda Nizzere, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer