AAPI Heritage Month Spotlight: Soyeong Park’s Journey from Seoul to Ad Tech Leadership

In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, we spoke with Soyeong Park, Head of Measurement Insights and Data Strategy at Sam’s Club MAP, about her life and career, tracing her journey from Seoul, Korea, to her impressive ad tech and digital media career. 

Soyeong Park was originally born in Seoul Korea, but a significant move to Spain brought her unique and diverse perspective. This experience was a catalyst for her continued curiosity about different cultures and traditions, shaping both her personal and professional life.

Park’s professional path took her from Georgetown University and Northwestern University to a role at Williams-Sonoma, where she honed her expertise in data-driven marketing. Currently, Park works at Sam’s Club Member Access Platform (MAP), where she heads the Measurement, Insights, and Data Strategy (MINDS) team. Park also earned the honor of Data Demistifyer as a 2024 AdMonsters & AdExchanger Top Woman in Media & Ad Tech honoree.

We got to speak about her passion for retail, data, and marketing, how her ad tech journey led to her current role and how the industry has evolved over her career. 

Andrew Byrd: Can you tell me a bit about your upbringing, where you’re from, and how that influenced the person you are today? 

Soyeong Park: Born in Seoul, Korea, my early life was marked by a family move to Spain for my father’s job. I was 11 years old then, and this move presented a unique opportunity to experience a multicultural environment. While in Spain, my family and I maintained our Korean culture and traditions at home. I also attended a local American high school, which allowed me to experience the Spanish way of life.

After high school, I moved to the United States to pursue my undergraduate degree in Business at Georgetown University. Following my undergraduate studies, I attended Northwestern University where I pursued a master’s degree in business Statistics and Data Analytics.

Looking back, it is undeniable that my family’s move to Spain was a transformative chapter in my life. That multicultural experience continues to shape me today both personally and professionally. Living in Spain gave me a global mindset at an early age. I continue to be curious about different traditions and ideas, and I enjoy meeting new people and learning about their cultures and backgrounds. 

AB: How did you start working in the ad tech and digital media industry? Most people seem to stumble upon the industry. Is that your experience? 

SP: My first job in the US was at Williams-Sonoma Headquarters. The company was highly progressive at the time, using data-driven marketing and digital media. I was with Williams-Sonoma for 13 years. This is where I gained a deep understanding of data-driven marketing; this included A/B testing, customer insights, hyper-personalized targeting, measurement and attribution models, digital marketing, customer journeys and loyalty, among others. 

I started at Williams-Sonoma as a data analyst and later led the centralized marketing data and analytics organization, supporting all seven brands by Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn. 

When retail media emerged, it was an obvious choice for me to explore. Retail media presents the perfect blend of my three favorite areas – retail, data, and marketing. 

AB: You now work at Sam’s Club Member Access Platform (MAP). Can you share more about your role and responsibilities there? 

SP: For the past two years, I have been leading the Measurement, Insights and Data Strategy (MINDS) team at Sam’s Club MAP – a role I love. This position allows me to apply a diverse range of skills and knowledge that I have gained from my previous roles. These include management consulting at BCG, marketing decision science and customer insights at Williams-Sonoma, and data strategy at Workday. 

At Sam’s Club MAP, I get to build strategic differentiators including our deep first-party members insights and closed-loop measurement which are both made possible by Sam’s Club’s membership model. The combination of member insights and measurement helps our advertisers achieve their business goals. 

AB: With your extensive background in omnichannel retail and digital media, how have you seen the industry evolve over the past decade?

SP: It’s incredible to see the rapid growth and evolution of the retail media industry. Many retail media networks have seen two major evolutions. The first phase of retail media was centered on onsite media and first-party data. The second phase aimed to enhance onsite media capabilities with offsite extensions for broader reach and frequency. Currently, industry leaders, including Sam’s Club MAP, are actively preparing for the next phase by integrating in-store media and developing a truly omnichannel media offering for advertisers.

AB: I’m sure you are a leader and mentor to upcoming ad tech professionals. What leadership lessons have you learned from your experiences throughout your professional career?

SP: Stay curious and never stop learning. This will make your career more enjoyable and exciting. Embrace ambiguity by exploring innovative ideas and creating new rules that work for you!

AB: Any final advice for upcoming ad tech and digital media professionals?

SP: There is so much innovation ahead. It is an exciting time to be in ad tech and media. Immerse yourself in the industry and strive to become an expert in what you are passionate about.