One of the many things I truly love about working closely with technology executives is that I rarely meet anyone who says they’re satisfied with maintaining the status quo. Most of the people in the HMG Strategy network are transformational leaders and agents of change. They are trailblazers and pioneers, relentlessly testing the boundaries and boldly pushing forward.
Scott Kessler combines courageous leadership, business acumen and deep technical knowledge in his role as Executive Vice President, Chief Information Officer at BJ’s Wholesale Club. When Scott joined the team at BJ’s in 2017, the retail industry was poised for dramatic change.
“One of our long-term strategic priorities for the past few years has been improving convenience for our members with digital. To do so, we needed to accelerate our omnichannel and build a foundation to grow faster,” Scott explains. “The retail industry evolves at a rapid pace and we knew that the role of omnichannel would continue to grow. We saw an opportunity to quickly expand our digital fulfillment capabilities to remain competitive and help our members shop their way. We embraced the mindset of a start-up and we built a platform that enables us to grow our digital business from a relatively small footprint to a notable percentage of a multibillion-dollar company.”
The transformation was challenging, Scott recalls, and “required a leap of faith. We needed to reorganize how we built technology and how we looked at our member.”
But the hard work paid off. “The most rewarding aspect of it was showing the power of digital channels and discovering how fast we could move. Projects that used to require years or months now took weeks or days. And we opened up new channels of funding by demonstrating the value of digital products and services that accelerated our business and strategic priorities.”
Part of Scott’s role is to communicate openly with non-technical audiences and to demonstrate the value of newer digital technologies. “My job is also to illustrate what technology makes possible. For example, we help folks understand how artificial intelligence and machine learning can be used to solve business problems,” he says. “That’s a very important and rewarding aspect of my role.”
I am deeply impressed and inspired by Scott’s experiences as a technology leader and transformational executive. From my perspective, we are still in the early stages of a genuinely global shift that will probably continue and accelerate over the next two decades. Scott and the team at BJ’s are excellent role models and exemplars, and I am delighted that he is willing to share his unique insight with our global network of technology executives.