Zipporah Allen

VP, Digital Experiences, Taco Bell

VP, Digital Experiences, Taco Bell

As a senior marketing executive at Yum! Brands, Zipporah (Zip) Allen has a passion for creating experiences that consumers will love and creating environments that bring out the best in people. Now Vice President, Digital Experiences at Taco Bell, Zip’s responsibilities center around driving the customer experience through the brand’s digital channels – kiosk, app, web and delivery.

Prior to relocating to her native Southern California for her current role at Taco Bell, Zip was Chief Marketing Officer for Pizza Hut U.S., based in Dallas. She was responsible for driving brand relevance and business growth for Pizza Hut’s 7,500 U.S. locations. In that role, Zip and her team led the national marketing campaigns, brand purpose initiatives, and brand partnerships for Pizza Hut. She overhauled the company’s pricing strategy to regain market share, orchestrated a multi-year sponsorship with the National Football League and launched the first-ever rewards program to drive incremental visits to the brand.

Prior to Pizza Hut, Zip held various global marketing and strategy roles at McDonald’s Corporation. Most notably, she spent three years in Australia re-structuring the company’s approach to business planning and launching the award-winning “McDonald’s becomes Macca’s” campaign.

Zip earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from USC and her MBA in Marketing and Finance from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. She lives in Southern California with her husband Jason and their two young children Millie and Emmett.

Wade Allen

Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer, Brinker International, Inc.

Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer, Brinker International, Inc.

Wade Allen serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer for Brinker International, Inc. where he oversees information technology, data security, and analytics. His team bridges technology and marketing to create a seamless digital experience for Chili’s® Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy® Guests and Team Members. During his tenure, Wade served as vice president of digital Guest experience and analytics for Chili’s where he led the implementation and continued the advancement of tabletop devices, My Chili’s Rewards and Chili’s mobile app and website.

Prior to joining Brinker in 2014, Wade served as president of CouponFactory, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rockfish Interactive. He held positions as vice president of retail for Rockfish Interactive and as an account director/solution lead at the integrated marketing agency, RAPP, where he worked on a number of Brinker brands. Wade enjoys reading about emerging technology, politics, and history. Wade serves on the digital innovation advisory council for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® and is an active member of his church. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from Northwestern University.

Glenn Allison

VP AI, Automation and Innovation, Tractor Supply Co.

VP AI, Automation and Innovation, Tractor Supply Co.

Glenn Allison is Vice President, AI, Automation, and Innovation for Tractor Supply Co., the largest rural lifestyle retailer in the United States with over 1,900+ stores and approximately $8 billion in annual revenues. Tractor Supply is leveraging Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and Innovation to personalize the customer experience in-store and online, as well as leverage machine learning to meet and anticipate shopper’s needs.

Prior to Tractor Supply, Glenn worked at Kellogg Company, where he led global architecture and engineering functions to support supply chain modernization. Glenn also previously held several leadership roles at W.W. Grainger, one of the largest eCommerce retailers in the United States.

Glenn received his MBA from the University of Chicago and a Masters of Science in Information Technology from Northwestern University.

He currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Technology Leadership Council for the National Retail Federation (NRF), Board of Directors for the Nashville Technology Council (NTC), and a lifetime member of the FFA. For his work with technology and innovation, he was named to the “40 Under 40” list by the Nashville Business Journal.

Sumit Anand

Chief Information Officer and Chief Strategy Officer, At Home

Chief Information Officer and Chief Strategy Officer, At Home

Sumit Anand began serving as the Chief Information Officer of At Home in 2018 and has recently added Chief Strategy Officer role to his set of responsibilities.

Prior to joining At Home, Mr. Anand was the Senior Vice President of Information Technology from 2015 to 2018 at Signet Jewelers, a large specialty jewelry retailer in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom with over 3,500 stores. In that role, Mr. Anand was responsible for leading the Technology Modernization and Transformation initiative across 8 global brands and several capability areas, including stores, e-commerce, omnichannel, supply chain, analytics, merchandising, HR and finance.

Before this, Mr. Anand served as an executive in Accenture’s Retail Digital practice from 2007 to 2015. Mr. Anand was the Strategy Account Lead for Accenture’s largest retail client and worked with various national and international organizations including Best Buy, Signet, Neiman Marcus around their corporate strategy, supply chain, financial services, M&A integration and digital and technology transformational initiatives.

Mr. Anand received his MS – Information Systems from the University of Colorado.

Julie Averill

EVP and Chief Technology Officer, lululemon

EVP and Chief Technology Officer, lululemon

Julie Averill is lululemon’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. Ms. Averill joined lululemon in May 2017 and brings more than 25 years of experience leveraging innovative technology to transform retail businesses and enhance guest experiences.

Ms. Averill comes to lululemon from REI, where she most recently served as the brand’s first-ever Chief Information Officer. While at REI, Ms. Averill led the company’s technology strategy, overall IT operations, and technology transformation that enabled its member and employee base to more deeply connect with its purpose for people to enjoy the outdoors.

Brett Bonner

Vice President R&D and OR, Kroger

Vice President R&D and OR, Kroger

Brett leads a team focused on creating sustainable competitive advantage by inventing advanced technologies and developing projects for retail and logistics that individually have at least a $50 million contribution.

Before joining Kroger in 2006, he served 25 years at Federal Express in various positions Technical Fellow, Managing Director of Scanning Technologies, and VP of FedEx Internet Technologies. During his time at FedEx, he invented and developed many diverse systems and his profit contribution for such systems exceeds $600 million per year.

Brett serves on the ZigBee Board of Directors and the TechPoint Advisory Board. His FAST Alerts system won a 2015 CIO 100 award and ranked #3 in InfoWorld Elite 100 for QueVision for 2014. He is honored to be a 2013 Franz Edelman Laureate for Achievement in Management Science and a 2010 Planet Retail Innovator of the Year. He is honored to have received many awards from Federal Express during his time there. Additionally, Brett is a named inventor on 23 US patents from Federal Express and Kroger.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Memphis and attended graduate school at Rensselaer and Western Michigan, in addition to studying law at Concord School of Law. He is a professional engineer registered in Tennessee.

Karime Benaissa

SVP, Digital and e-Commerce, Neiman Marcus

SVP, Digital and e-Commerce, Neiman Marcus

Karime Benaissa is Neiman Marcus’ Senior Vice President of Digital & e-Commerce. Mr. Benaissa joined Neiman Marcus Group in Summer 2019 and brings more than 20 years of experience in turning around, transforming and accelerating the growth of digital platforms through the creation of seamless, intuitive and business-accretive omnichannel experiences.

Previously, Mr. Benaissa spent 3 years at Petco, where he turned around a fledgling e-Commerce business, bolstering both growth rates and EBITDA, while focusing on LTV-driving programs like its subscription business. Mr. Benaissa also spent many years at Amazon in key leadership positions across the Retail and Ad-based businesses, accelerating the growth of key retail businesses in Amazon’s nascent years.
Mr. Benaissa received an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and a Master’s of Sciences in Mathematics from the University of Minnesota.

Steve Carley

Board of Directors, Big 5 Sporting Goods and former CEO, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers

Board of Directors, Big 5 Sporting Goods and former CEO, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers

Steve is a seasoned and effective member of multiple Boards in both independent and executive roles for public, private and hybrid (private equity with public debt) companies. He has experience as a Chief Executive Officer/C-level executive across a range of industries including restaurants (QSR, Fast Casual and Casual Dining), Entertainment (multi-unit family and national theme parks), B2C web-based technology and CPG. He earned his MBA in Marketing from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

Rich Carryer

SVP Information Technology and CIO, Giant Eagle

SVP Information Technology and CIO, Giant Eagle

Rich Carryer serves as the Senior Vice President of Information Technology for Giant Eagle Inc. In this role, Rich is responsible for all technology that supports all areas of the company. Rich also leads Giant Eagle’s technology R&D and innovation group. Rich has worked for Giant Eagle for 20 years in various roles all within IT. Prior to working for Giant Eagle Rich has worked at PNC and Allegheny Technologies.

Carl Ceresoli

Chief Technology Officer, Pacers Sports and Entertainment

Chief Technology Officer, Pacers Sports and Entertainment

Carl has been focused for the past 20 years on pushing the technological envelope redefining what’s possible and will spend the next 20 pushing even harder. His career has been a balance of startups and Fortune 50. This combination taught him the value of an intellectual property, the importance of the necessary process, and the power of scale.

Right now his professional life is all about retail technology and team building at Microsoft. He had the privilege of serving on the Microsoft Retail Technology Group’s leadership team for almost two years and is looking forward to the build-out of our new Flagship facility in Manhattan.

Chris Chapo

Senior Vice President, Customer Data and Analytics, GAP

Senior Vice President, Customer Data and Analytics, GAP

Chris is Senior Vice President, Customer Data and Analytics, within the Customer and Strategy Team at Gap Inc. In this position, he plays the lead role in increasing the company’s ability to best take advantage of quantitative information about customers, ensuring that all GAP brands take a data-driven approach in transforming the company to be customer-obsessed.

Prior to joining GAP, Chris lead data teams for a wide variety of companies, including Apple, Intuit, JCPenney, and Enjoy. Chris has extensive experience building data science organizations, teams, and platforms, and applying statistical and analytic rigor to a variety of functions including marketing, customer experience, loyalty, and customer service/support.

Nitin Chaturvedi

Chief Digital Transformation Officer, KFC Global

Chief Digital Transformation Officer, KFC Global

Nitin serves as the Chief Digital and Technology Officer at KFC Global. He joined Yum! in 2019 and spearheads the digital transformation of KFC globally. In his role, he is defining a digital vision, a strategic agenda and working in partnership with markets and franchisees to drive the execution of our digital agenda.

Nitin’s prior work experience includes roles with I2 Technologies as a Solution Architect and McKinsey and Company as an Associate Partner. He later joined Google and managed global retail sales and operations, and rose to become Director (GM), Chrome OS, US and led the US business and operations for Google’s Chrome operating system.

Nitin received his Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Master of Science from Purdue University and an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Varadheesh Chennakrishnan

Chief Information Officer, Joann Stores

Chief Information Officer, Joann Stores

Varadheesh joined Joann as CIO in March 2019. He is responsible for all technology solutions at Joann that advance the initiatives of integrating customer-facing technologies into the stores and interacting with customers on their connected devices. Prior to joining Joann, he was SVP – Applications and Enterprise Architecture at ULTA Beauty.

Cari Covent

VP, Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Automation, Canadian Tire Corporation

VP, Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Automation, Canadian Tire Corporation

Cari is currently developing and leading Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Automation at Canadian Tire, with a focus on the art and science of engaging and serving customers, employees, and suppliers by leveraging artificial intelligence technology and a human-centered approach. She has held multiple leadership roles at IBM Canada and Canadian Tire.

Albino Feijo

VP Process Innovation and Automation, Target

VP Process Innovation and Automation, Target

Albino joined Target in 2016 and he is one of the leaders of the Strategy & Innovation team. In his position, he is responsible for the implementation of cross-functional projects across Marketing, Merchandising, Product Design, and Sourcing teams to deliver on the company’s strategic roadmap.

Prior to joining Target, Albino worked for MetLife, The Coca-Cola Co as the Latin American Leader for Operational Excellence and as a consultant for McKinsey & Co.
Originally from Brazil, Albino received his B.Sc in Mechanical Engineering from Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica in 1996 and his MBA from Insead in 2001.

Cy Fenton

Senior Vice President, IT Security & Infrastructure, Chief Information Security Officer, Ralph Lauren

Senior Vice President, IT Security & Infrastructure, Chief Information Security Officer, Ralph Lauren

Cy Fenton is Senior Vice President IT Security & Infrastructure, Chief Information Security Officer at Ralph Lauren. Previously, he served as Senior Vice President and CIO of Books-A-Million, Inc., and President of Booksamillion.com. While at Books-A-Million, Cy held various roles including VP of Store Technology and SVP of Internet Operations. Prior to joining Books-A-Million, Cy was Founder and Principal Consultant of THS, a technical consulting firm serving the music industry in Nashville. He also co-founded NetCentral, Nashville’s first Internet marketing and development agency, which was acquired by Books-A-Million in 1999. He was named 2014 Public CIO of the Year for Middle Tennessee by the Nashville Business Journal.

Cy is very active with industry, government and community groups. He is the Chairman of the National Retail Federation’s IT Security Council and serves on the executive committee of the NRF CIO Council. He is a member of the Department of Homeland Security CyberStorm V Planning Group for the Retail Sub-sector and a member of the Orvis Innovation Forum. Cy serves on the Advisory Board for Atlanta based non-profit TechBridge.

He is a member of the MIS Advisory Board for the University of Alabama – Culverhouse College of Commerce, the Industrial Advisory Board for the School of Engineering at Vanderbilt University, and the advisory board of the Retail Analytics Council at Northwestern University. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern University.

Dave Finnegan

Customer Experience Officer, Orvis

Customer Experience Officer, Orvis

Most recently Dave joined The Orvis Company where he is the Customer Experience Officer. Prior to Orvis, he held a senior leadership role with Build-A-Bear Workshop, serving as Chief Information and Interactive Officer for the company. He was instrumental in the development of the award-winning, Build-A-Bear Workshop Store of the Future, an innovative blend of digital technology and store experience. Dave currently serves on the Executive Committee of the National Retail Federation-Chief Information Officer Council. The CIO Council is an invitation-only group of many of the most influential CIOs in the retail industry. Dave also serves as the CIO chairman of the Knowledge@Wharton program, which brings together thought leaders and academics throughout the retail industry.

In 2013, Dave was named to the “Top 100 CIO” list by CIO Magazine and was nominated as “Innovative CIO of the Year” by Retail Information Systems magazine. He was also nominated as “CIO of the Year” by Oracle Retail in 2012 and 2011. In 2011, Dave was named an honorary Arch Angel by WiredKids.org for his meaningful service on their board, including testifying before Congress on internet safety for children.

Dave’s work has been featured in numerous publications including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Ad Age, Retail Information Systems News, Integrated Retailer, and Retail Connections. Dave has been a contributing author of two books. The Thomson Reuters book “Inside the Minds,” focused on Dave’s involvement in the development and successful launch of the newly imagined Build-A-Bear Workshop store and “The Strategic CIO: Changing the Dynamics of the Business Enterprise” (Taylor and Francis), which focuses on the role that CIOs play in innovating in today’s ever-changing business environment. Dave serves as an advisor/mentor at Plug and Play Tech Center in Silicon Valley, a tech start-up incubation company that has a long history of incubating innovative companies including Google, PayPal, and DropBox.

Derek Gaskins

Senior Vice President, Merchandising and Procurement, Yesway

Senior Vice President, Merchandising and Procurement, Yesway

Mr. Gaskins directs all marketing, merchandising and procurement efforts for the Yesway brand. He leads the effort to establish a marketing and merchandising playbook to improve the organization's go-to-market strategic plan. He also helps to further cultivate the growth and stewardship of the fast-growing Yesway brand with a keen focus on ensuring the organization's social, mobile, and loyalty initiatives are best in class.

Prior to joining Yesway, he served as Chief Customer Officer for Rutter’s convenience stores & Dairy business. Mr. Gaskins holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Iowa and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

Martin Gilliard

U.S. Head of Industry, Retail Superstore and Grocery, Facebook

U.S. Head of Industry, Retail Superstore and Grocery, Facebook

Martin Gilliard’s career has been built at the intersection of data, technology, and media. As Head of Industry, Retail Superstores and Grocery at Facebook, Martin has driven the company’s development of data products for the retail vertical.

This pursuit of innovation has propelled Martin throughout his career including stints as the Chief Information Officer at Barneys New York, where he ran all the infrastructure and e-Commerce business. Prior to his position at Barneys New York, he was with WPP’s Media Innovation Group, where as Vice President of Platform Services, he was a key member of the team that developed the company’s platform that launched the industry’s first digital advertising trading desk, the precursor to Xaxis.

Jerel Golub

Vice-Chairman of the Board, Price Chopper Supermarkets

Vice-Chairman of the Board, Price Chopper Supermarkets

Jerel Golub, Vice Chairman of the Board of Price Chopper Supermarkets, began his career in the supermarket industry in 1973 when, at the age of fifteen, he bagged groceries and collected shopping carts at the company’s Central Market store in Schenectady, NY. After earning his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Boston University and completing General Electric’s Financial Management Program, Mr. Golub began his full-time career with Price Chopper in 1982. He later took the time to earn his MBA degree from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, which he completed in 1985.

During his career with the company, Mr. Golub’s responsibilities have spanned the marketing, merchandising, and operational side of the business, as well as finance and administration. As Vice President of Marketing, he led the company’s efforts to use its loyalty card data and other research to better understand its customers, as well as to develop more meaningful, targeted promotional offers. On the administrative side of the business, he led a number of store acquisitions during the late ’90s and early 2000s. Named Executive Vice President and COO in 2008, he was a driving force behind the company’s efforts to refine its brand vision. He served as President of the company from 2010 to 2015, and CEO from 2012 to 2016.

Jerry’s professional activities have also extended to the broader business community. He is currently a Board member of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), as well as a Board member of the Business Council of New York State. In the past, he served on the committee that established FMI’s Future Leaders conference, which is designed to attract, educate and inspire both current and future industry leaders. In addition, he served on the Coca-Cola Retail Research Council for North America, which completed a major study in 2011 on social media and its implications for the supermarket industry.

Jerry is also actively involved in the community. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Albany Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he is a member of the Finance Committee of the United Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York Endowment Fund.

Joe Hartsig

EVP, Chief Merchandising Officer, Bed Bath & Beyond and President, Harmon Stores

EVP, Chief Merchandising Officer, Bed Bath & Beyond and President, Harmon Stores

Joe Hartsig is EVP, Chief Merchandising Officer at Bed Bath & Beyond and President, Harmon Stores. Previously, Joe served as Senior Vice President of Merchandising at Walgreens, where he managed all marketing, brand strategy, and digital commerce units. He has also held positions as Chief Merchandising and Marketing Officer at Essendant, Inc., a Fortune 500 wholesaler of office supplies and Senior Vice President at Walmart.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Hillside College and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

Kathy Hilt

Division Vice President, Macy's

Division Vice President, Macy's

Kathy spent her formative years in the business as a merchant and then running high volume department stores, initially single locations and later as a District Vice President. She transitioned to a corporate leadership role in 2012 as Senior Vice President of Customer Experience and Specialized Selling, a newly expanded role at Macy’s. In this capacity, Kathy drove the store's organization forward into the age of digital transformation. She created executive mobility by supplying tablets, greatly enhancing store management effectiveness. She pushed for custom application development that automated, streamlined and simplified administrative processes.

Exceptional passion for delivering differentiated customer experiences has been a hallmark of Kathy’s career. She shepherded the development of a modernized Clientele system to enable Macy’s best store associates to optimize their relationships with the best customers. She transformed Macy’s legacy personal shopping service to appeal to a broader customer demographic, rebranding it as My Stylist @ Macy’s, and created a hybrid concept called Connect @ Macy’s to scale a personalized shopping experience to more stores. Kathy enhanced the focus of Macy’s Wedding & Gift Registry by injecting a “total lifestyle” approach to drive increased customer lifetime value. She partnered with Macys.com to add “store mode” to their consumer mobile app to more seamlessly integrate the physical and digital customer experience.

In her recent transition to leading the flagship Herald Square location, “The World’s Largest Store,” Kathy will continue to innovate and transform the customer experience for the Macy’s Brand. Kathy received her BS in Marketing from Penn State University.

Simon Hughes

Senior Data Scientist, The Home Depot

Senior Data Scientist, The Home Depot

Simon Hughes is a senior data scientist at The Home Depot, where he works on personalization, ranking, and project shopping for the core recommendations team. In his time at Home Depot, he has built a number of different recommender systems including a personalized deals recommender, a model for recommending essential accessories for core products, and a solution for recommending ‘how to’ guides for customers working on DIY projects. Simon has a Ph.D. in Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing from DePaul University.

Michael Jacobs

Senior Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, J.Crew

Senior Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, J.Crew

Michael S. Jacobs is a 25-year industry veteran who recently joined JCrew after 4 years leading the Infrastructure team at Ann Inc. Prior to the role at Ann, Jacobs held technology leadership positions with Kaiser Permanente, Warnaco, and GE Retail Finance.

Matt James

Chief Operating Officer, Hickory Farms

Chief Operating Officer, Hickory Farms

Matt James is the Chief Operating Officer at Hickory Farms, where he is responsible for leading the Strategy, Product Development & Merchandising, Supply Chain, and Technology functions. In this role, Matt leads the efforts to drive growth at Hickory Farms and build the infrastructure, process, and analytics to support it.

Previously, Matt was SVP of Operations and Merchandising at Redbox. Matt’s team at Redbox consisted of over 1,400 employees nationwide and was responsible for inventory stocking and optimization, kiosk repair, and preventative maintenance, as well as, route optimization, kiosk and employee telecom, fleet management, spare parts fulfillment, inventory management, and merchandising analytics to support new growth and operational efficiency initiatives.

Prior to joining Redbox, Matt worked in strategy consulting at Bain & Company and Marakon Associates. He earned a bachelor’s degree in the Integrated Science Program and economics from Northwestern University and an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

Srini Kandala

Head of Local Commerce, Innovation, and the Deep Learning Center, Sears Holdings Corporation

Head of Local Commerce, Innovation, and the Deep Learning Center, Sears Holdings Corporation

Srini Kandala serves as the Head of Local Commerce and Innovation at Sears Holdings Corporation. He also leads the Sears Deep Learning Center. Sears Deep Learning Center develops retail specific products based on convolutional neural networks, generative adversarial networks, and deep reinforcement learning. Prior to joining Sears, he held positions at Amazon as Head of Amazon Marketplace WebStores and Head of Amazon Payments.

Charlie Larkin

Senior Director, GameStop Tech Institute

Senior Director, GameStop Tech Institute

Charlie Larkin serves as Senior Director of the GameStop Technology Institute (GTI). GTI is a business unit focused on creating affiliations with leading technology corporations and academic institutions to discover and deliver business innovation and technology solutions to better address the needs of today’s empowered consumer.

In this role, Charlie is accountable for accelerating business growth through the application of emerging technologies that create next-generation customer experiences. Current research and development activities are focused on connected smart-store experiences and digital marketing within the retail space.

Larkin has more than 15 years of retail technology experience and a knack for combining emerging technology, business strategy, and innovation to solve big problems. He previously led GameStop’s retail digital sales eco-system and formed strategic partnerships with digital vendors leading the technology advancement of GameStop’s brick and mortar stores.

Sean MacCarthy

Executive Director of Global Analytics and Store Segmentation, Claire's

Executive Director of Global Analytics and Store Segmentation, Claire's

Sean MacCarthy is the Executive Director of Global Analytics and Store Segmentation for Claire’s Inc. Sean has worked in Retail, Operations, Supply Chain and B2B Analytics and Strategy for the last five years across the Home Appliance, Chain Drug Retailer and Fashion Accessories Industries with a focus on utilizing cross-functional data and insights to drive company strategies. He has been the “boots on the ground” cleansing the data and building the models, the leader in introducing emerging technologies and working with IT to implement them and the strategist who utilizes his team’s insights across their various functions to provide company direction. Prior to his corporate work, Sean was a Philosophy Professor whose area of concentration was epistemology.

He completed his Philosophy graduate work at Fordham University and his undergraduate work at Miami University (OH).
Sean resides in the Chicago, Illinois area with his wife and three children.

Bernardo Meza

VP Marketing/Head of Marketing, Payless ShoeSource

VP Marketing/Head of Marketing, Payless ShoeSource

Bernardo joined Payless ShoeSource in 2018. He leads all advertising, media, market research, and public relations efforts domestically and internationally. In his position, Bernardo is responsible for generating in-store and online traffic, as well as, developing the Payless brand worldwide. Prior to joining Payless, Bernardo spent over 20 years in roles of increasing responsibility in developing brand strategy and marketing plans at P&G, Anheuser-Busch, and MARS.

Originally from Mexico, Bernardo received his B.Sc. in Industrial Engineering from ITESM, his M.Sc. in Business from Foundation EPF, and his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management.

Robert Mills

EVP, Chief Technology, Digital Commerce and Strategy Officer, Tractor Supply Company

EVP, Chief Technology, Digital Commerce and Strategy Officer, Tractor Supply Company

Rob Mills is a highly respected technology executive with a distinguished career spanning more than 20 years in strategic technology planning, digital channels, and operations leadership in customer-oriented environments. His expertise leveraging custom and package solutions —including SAP, ATG, JDA, Manhattan, SAS, IBM WebCommerce and open source technologies — enables Mr. Mills to outpace competitors and establish new industry standards by providing high-level direction to drive innovation and direct market-leading products and services. He offers a proven record of success in developing strong teams and organizational structures to build CRM applications, loyalty programs, finance, pricing analytics, and Web/mobile platforms and analytics solutions, as well as improving customer experience through the design of leading-edge Web, mobile, and retail integration.

Mr. Mills joined Tractor Supply Company in 2014 as their SVP, Chief Information Officer, where he quickly made substantial impacts on IT performance, e-commerce platform stability, and merchandising analytics. Upon joining Tractor Supply Company, he initiated a major overhaul to IT and Engineering operations, including consolidating and streamlining roles, implementing an on- and off-shore model, and establishing career development paths to maximize his team’s potential. Mr. Mills also developed a comprehensive three-year technology plan to manage the rapid and aggressive expansion of both the retail and e-commerce business. Mr. Mills was recently named the 2015 CIO of the Year by The Nashville Business Journal for the Public Company category. He was one of two honorees.

Prior to joining Tractor Supply Company, Mr. Mills served as the Chief Information Officer at Ulta Beauty and at Sears Holdings Corporation. At Ulta, he supported the growth of over 400 retail locations, accelerated their e-commerce growth, introduced mobility and CRM capabilities throughout the organization, and modernized their ERP solution. In his final role at Sears as Chief Information Officer of the Online Business Unit, Mr. Mills was instrumental in positioning the Sears and Kmart brands as key players in retail and e-commerce sectors. By continually incorporating emerging technologies and strategies, including in-store mobility, integrated mobile applications, social media and analytics, and a centralized call center, Mr. Mills vastly improved relationships with existing and new customers. During this time, he also achieved dramatic improvements to IT operations and processes through the implementation of Agile methodologies, improved team collaboration, creation of formal architecture and project governance boards, and recruitment of top talent within the United States and abroad. Mr. Mills was a member of the Sears and Kmart merger team; he was instrumental in managing the consolidated technical roadmap to ensure a seamless transition and integration.

Mr. Mills’ early career includes technology and customer-focused roles with Allstate Life Insurance, Rockwell International and Household Finance Corporation (HSBC North America).

Mr. Mills has two patents with the United States Patent Office — System and Method for Providing Self Service Checkout and Product Delivery Using a Mobile Device and Systems and Method for Managing Orders Made via a Computer Network. Mr. Mills possesses a Master’s Degree from DePaul University and holds a Leadership Certification from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. He is an active member of several professional and industry organizations.

Sherif Mityas

Chief Experience Officer, TGI FRIDAYS

Chief Experience Officer, TGI FRIDAYS

Sherif Mityas is the Chief Experience Officer for TGI FRIDAYS with oversight for the Brand’s Strategy, Marketing, Operations, Technology, and Digital efforts. Mr. Mityas has more than 20 years’ experience in the retail and hospitality industries in both senior consulting and executive industry roles.

Prior to joining TGI FRIDAYS, Mr. Mityas served as the Managing Partner for JS Consulting and as the Chief Executive Officer for Hollywood Video/Movie Gallery.

Mr. Mityas received a B.S. degree in aerospace engineering from Boston University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and an M.B.A. from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

George Nahra

SVP Strategy, Business Development & International, Chico's

SVP Strategy, Business Development & International, Chico's

George Nahra serves as SVP, Strategy, Business Development, and International at Chico’s FAS. In this role, George oversees strategic planning, innovation, new business development opportunities, strategic program management, and international operations for the Chico’s, White House I Black Market, and Soma brands. Chico’s FAS is a $2.5B+ retailer with 1,500+ owned stores and approximately 80 franchised locations.

Before joining Chico’s FAS, he advised several companies in the consumer space. Work included defining consumer trends for a mass retailer, identifying growth opportunities for a plus-sized retailer, and re-imagining pricing strategies for a global athletic apparel/accessories brand. He also served as Vice President of Strategic Planning and Customer Insights at Abercrombie and Fitch., where he formulated A&F’s long-range strategic plan, built a Program Management Office to manage the overall strategic planning process, and built a Customer and Competitive Insights Team.

Prior to joining A&F, George held senior roles at Bridgewater Associates, a hedge fund with roughly $170B in assets under management, and McKinsey & Co., where he was an integral member of the Retail and Marketing & Sales practices, serving clients in grocery, consumer electronics, specialty apparel, specialty pharmacy, wholesale jeanswear, and other retail sectors. George started his career in merchandising at A&F.

George holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and English from Duke University and an MBA from The Wharton School.

Gregory Otte

Head of Americas Retail Operations & Strategy, Google

Head of Americas Retail Operations & Strategy, Google

Greg has more than fifteen years of international supply chain experience working in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. At Google, he combines his broad operations experience honed as a management consultant at McKinsey, combined with deep industry experience in retail (Marks and Spencer), 3PL (APL Logistics) and tech/consumer electronics (Google). Greg received his MBA from Vlerick Business School (Belgium).

Mark Patton

Chief Technology Officer, Studio Movie Grill

Chief Technology Officer, Studio Movie Grill

With over 30 years of technology implementation and leadership experience, Mark draws on unique perspectives from industries such as manufacturing, telecommunications, insurance, retail, and entertainment. Mark has managed and architected solutions that exploited the benefits of multi-tiered computing and service-oriented architecture with such telecommunications giants as Motorola, Sprint, and Cingular/AT&T – yielding a U.S. patent and awards recognizing his contributions to the wireless standards community.

Over the past 10 years, Mark has focused on establishing Enterprise Architecture, Business Intelligence, and System Integration practices at companies such as HealthMarkets, JCPenney, and GameStop, both as a consultant and as an IT Executive. Today, Mark is Vice President & CTO of Studio Movie Grill where he leads all technology innovation, development and operations in the fast-growing and exciting industry of full-service, dine-in cinema.

Mark earned his B.S. degree in Computer Science from Sam Houston State University and his M.B.A. from the University of Dallas.

Anu Penmetcha

Global Product Marketing Lead-Retail, Facebook

Global Product Marketing Lead-Retail, Facebook

Anu Penmetcha has over fifteen years of experience working with retail companies in the U.S., Canada, and U.K. Anu has worked with numerous Fortune 100 retailers helping them to grow their digital business and implement omnichannel strategies.

Currently, Anu serves as the Global Product Marketing lead for Retail at Facebook, working across sales and product teams to drive a customer-focused vision for retail. Prior to her current role, she was at HBC where she was responsible for digital merchandising, dropship, strategic planning, and driving innovation & omnichannel efforts across four banners (Saks, Saks off 5th, Lord and Taylor and The Bay). Anu holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and an MS in Computer Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Rob Price

Sr. Director, Data Science and Software Engineering, Walmart

Sr. Director, Data Science and Software Engineering, Walmart

With over 30 years of technology implementation and leadership experience, Mark draws on unique perspectives from industries such as manufacturing, telecommunications, insurance, retail, and entertainment. Mark has managed and architected solutions that exploited the benefits of multi-tiered computing and service-oriented architecture with such telecommunications giants as Motorola, Sprint, and Cingular/AT&T – yielding a U.S. patent and awards recognizing his contributions to the wireless standards community.

Over the past 10 years, Mark has focused on establishing Enterprise Architecture, Business Intelligence, and System Integration practices at companies such as HealthMarkets, JCPenney, and GameStop, both as a consultant and as an IT Executive. Today, Mark is Vice President & CTO of Studio Movie Grill where he leads all technology innovation, development and operations in the fast-growing and exciting industry of full-service, dine-in cinema.

Mark earned his B.S. degree in Computer Science from Sam Houston State University and his M.B.A. from the University of Dallas.

Diane Randolph

Chief Information Officer, ULTA Beauty

Chief Information Officer, ULTA Beauty

Diane Randolph joined ULTA Beauty as Chief Information Officer for Information Systems in October 2014. She is responsible for advancing the company’s strategic goals through technology-solutions delivery and operations support for all functions including marketing, merchandising, stores, distribution centers, e-commerce, inventory management, desktop and data centers.

Prior to joining ULTA Beauty, she was Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Reitman’s (Canada) Limited, Canada’s largest specialty apparel retailer with nearly 900 stores. From 2003 to 2004, Diane served as an independent consultant for several retailers, providing strategic and tactical counsel on initiatives ranging from new concept start-up to warehouse implementation. Previously, she spent 25 years in roles of increasing responsibility at NSB/STS Systems (now Aptos), a leading supplier of retail software and professional services. Her roles at NSB/STS Systems included Vice President of Software Development.

Wesley Rhodes

COO Sunrise Technologies, VP Technology Transformation, Kroger

COO Sunrise Technologies, VP Technology Transformation, Kroger

Wesley is the Chief Operations Officer for Sunrise Technologies, a Kroger commercial technology venture company that invents and licenses Kroger advanced technologies to other companies. He also serves with Kroger Corporation as the VP of Technology Transformation, with a focus on the application of new technologies, paradigms, methods, and innovations to better serve Kroger customers.

Prior to joining Kroger, Wesley had an eighteen-year career with IBM, where he served in numerous capacities including as the Chief Technologist in Artificial Intelligence, Cloud & Cognitive computing, as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Sensemaking, as the CTO for Corporate Strategy, as the Deputy CTO for US and NATO National Security and Defense, as Director of IoT and the Network Science Research Centers. Wesley specialized in managing high-risk projects, architectures, and technologies for advanced insight in Retail, Financial Services, Oil & Gas, Energy Services, Manufacturing, and for National Defense and Intelligence domains. Throughout his tenure with IBM, Wesley was assigned by the CEO and executive staff to IBM’s largest customers as a subject matter expert to resolve their hardest business and technical issues.

Wesley holds numerous academic appointments in the fields of Cyber Security, Health Informatics, Supercomputing Applications, and advanced R&D research. Wesley holds the required Federal security clearances to work on hard National Security and Defense topics for the US, UK, and NATO.

Wesley graduated with an MBA from the University of Houston, an MS in Project Management from the University of Western Carolina, an MS in Technology Commercialization from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MS in Technology Management from the University of Maryland, University College.

Karen Adler Ryder

Vice President, Growth & Category Management, Michaels

Vice President, Growth & Category Management, Michaels

Karen Adler Ryder is the Vice President of Growth and Category Management at the Michaels Companies. In this role, she works across functions and divisions to identify and execute organic and inorganic growth opportunities.

Prior to Michaels, Karen served as Global Head of the Retail Development division at rewardStyle + LIKEtoKNOW.it, the world's leading influencer marketing platform. At rewardStyle, her team partnered with 500+ top retailers across the world to drive sales and return on marketing investment. Before that, Karen drove innovation and corporate strategy at The Estee Lauder Companies and spent time at Target, Brideside, and the Boston Consulting Group. She holds an MBA from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and a BA from Rice University.

René Saroukhanoff

Senior Director of Global Merchandise Planning Reporting and Analytics, Levi Strauss & Co.

Senior Director of Global Merchandise Planning Reporting and Analytics, Levi Strauss & Co.

René Saroukhanoff is the Senior Director of Global Reporting and Analytics at Levi Strauss & Co. He has been in retail for over 15 years with extensive experience in inventory management, systems implementations, and data analysis. He is currently driving a global transformation of reporting and analytics at LS&Co.

He has a BS in Finance from the University of Southern California and lives in Pleasanton, CA with his wife and three children.

Vijay Sankararaman

Head of Supply Chain Product Management, Walmart

Head of Supply Chain Product Management, Walmart

Vijay is responsible for Digital Product Management for Walmart Supply Chain. In this role, he drives digital innovation and technology capabilities for customers in Integrated Demand/Supply Planning, Connected Logistics of inbound and outbound transportation, and Automated Distribution that encompasses global warehouse management solutions. Prior work experience includes positions at Home Depot and Sprint. He holds a Masters in Chemical Engineering and a Masters in Information Management from Arizona State University. He is also a graduate of the Program for Leadership Development at the Harvard Business School.

Matthew Seitz

Head of Insights & Analytics, U.S. Retailers, Google

Head of Insights & Analytics, U.S. Retailers, Google

Matt’s team focuses on developing innovative insights for Google’s largest retail clients. Areas of focus include mobile, omnichannel, media attribution, merchant/category insights, and store health. Matt has also worked with telecom and consumer electronics on performance and brand analytics. He has a bachelor’s degree from Miami of Ohio and an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Prior to joining Google, Matt has a background in consulting and held full-time positions with McDonald’s and Abbott Laboratories.

Tarang Sethia

Chief Digital Officer, 7-Eleven

Chief Digital Officer, 7-Eleven

Tarang Sethia serves as the Chief Digital Officer at 7-Eleven. His focus is on all digital consumer experiences and the stakeholders who serve them (Franchisees & Store Systems, and Field Teams). He also builds and leads the User Experience and Design Teams that support 7-Eleven International. He received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, an MS from the University of Texas, Dallas, and B.E. from Bhavnagar University.

Chris Stephens

Vice President of Data Technology, American Eagle Outfitters

Vice President of Data Technology, American Eagle Outfitters

Chris Stephens is Vice President of Data Technology at American Eagle Outfitters. In this role, he is responsible for all aspects of data for the company. This includes strategy, people, technology, governance, and analytics. Chris has over 20 years of experience leading product teams in data science and cloud computing.

AJ Sutera

Executive Vice President, Chief Information and Technology Officer, The Finish Line

Executive Vice President, Chief Information and Technology Officer, The Finish Line

AJ Sutera is the EVP, Chief Information and Technology Officer at The Finish Line, where is responsible for the leadership and long-range strategy of Finish Line’s technology, customer experience, analytics and innovation functions. Previously, he served as CTO of the Hudson Bay Company, where he was responsible for consumer experience and engagement strategies, as well as omnichannel technologies for all banners of the Hudson’s Bay Corporation including Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Off5th, Lord and Taylor, Hudson’s Bay and Home Outfitters.

Prior to joining HBC, Mr. Sutera has held a variety of executive technology positions in organizations including JetBlue Airways, General Electric, and Volvo North America.

Mr. Sutera is a graduate of Montclair State University with B.S. degrees in Accounting and Finance, as well as advanced degrees from Stevens Institute of Technology.

Maria Pople Toliopoulos

Vice President, Real Estate Strategy, Ulta Beauty

Vice President, Real Estate Strategy, Ulta Beauty

Ms. Toliopoulos is responsible for retailer intelligence and all national account relationships, overseeing multiple leasing related functions, including portfolio reviews, legal leasing review, and processing, as well as big data analysis and technological advancements in the industry.

She received her B.A. in English Literature from Loyola University of Chicago and her J.D. cum laude, from The John Marshall Law School, where she also received her L.L.M. with honors in Information Technology and Privacy Law. Ms. Toliopoulos is a licensed attorney and member of various trade organizations, including the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), where she holds a Certified Retail Property Executive (CRX) designation and has presented on various topics including big data and technology. She has also presented and been published on various topics from technology and privacy to commercial leasing.

Charlotte C.J. Tsou

Global Head of Marketing & Channels Analytics, HSBC (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation)

Global Head of Marketing & Channels Analytics, HSBC (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation)

Charlotte Tsou has more than 17 years of business experience, including 15 years in the retail banking and financial service industry, with a special emphasis on consumer lending and credit card marketing strategy and product management. Her core expertise is in analytics problem solving applied in setting strategies for consumer-facing international corporations. As Senior Vice President at HSBC Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Tsou currently heads up the Analytics and CRM function in the Latin Americas Region. She is focused on transforming the organization by centralizing the analytics resources, commercializing the data-driven strategies, building digital platforms, developing customer insights, and driving revenue growth for the region. She leads a team of 150+ analysts and data scientists across five countries.

Prior to joining HSBC, Tsou led a Mortgage to Consumer CRM function for Principal Mortgage (Citi Mortgage), responsible for direct-to-consumer lead generation and optimization. In this capacity, she was responsible for developing an integrated marketing program for both the contact center and digital channels. Before joining Principal Mortgage, Tsou was a Funding Manager with a Venture Capital firm in New Jersey.

AJ Udechukwu, PhD

VP, Data & Artificial Intelligence, Walgreens Boots Alliance

VP, Data & Artificial Intelligence, Walgreens Boots Alliance

A Data Science thought leader with a successful track record of building high-impact teams and transforming business functions, AJ joined Walgreens Boots Alliance in September 2019 as Vice President, Data & Artificial Intelligence.

Prior to joining WBA, AJ was Senior Director of Data Science for Lowe’s Companies in Charlotte, NC. He led enterprise data science within the Data, Analytics & Computational Center of Expertise. Areas of focus included large-scale optimization problems such as store associate scheduling and supply chain flows, and large-scale forecasting such as item demand forecasts by location and store traffic forecasting. A prior role with Lowe’s was Director of Analytics, providing thought leadership for digital initiatives including Personalization and Product Recommendation Algorithms, On-site Search Innovation and Improvements Leveraging Data Science, and Digital and Customer Analytics.

Before joining Lowe’s, AJ was Global Head of Content Analytics for Amazon Video in Seattle, supporting digital video products spanning transactional video on demand (TVOD), subscription video on demand (SVOD) and ad-supported video on demand (AVOD), offered in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan. With T-Mobile, he led Device Financing & Strategic Analytics. Earlier roles include Strategic Retail Analytics with Guitar Center and Director of Forecasting & Analytics for Fox Interactive Media (News Corp), and Advisory Services with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Arthur Andersen.

AJ has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Calgary, an MSc in Computer Science from the University of Windsor, and a BSc in Computer Science & Economics from Obafemi Awolowo University.

Emily Xu

Vice President, Strategy and Enterprise Business Intelligence, Crate & Barrel

Vice President, Strategy and Enterprise Business Intelligence, Crate & Barrel

Emily Xu is Vice President of Strategy and Enterprise Business Intelligence at Crate and Barrel, an industry-leading home furnishings specialty retailer, known for its curated design, superb quality, and excellent customer service. She joined Crate and Barrel in 2015 to lead the eCommerce business strategy and analytics function. She is currently responsible for developing strategic growth solutions and customer experience innovation via data and technology. Prior to joining Crate and Barrel, Emily worked at Sears Corporation and Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, where she managed eCommerce and omnichannel customer experience. Prior to Sears, she worked at AT&T BellLabs/Alcatel-Lucent, at various capacities in their R&D and service organizations.

Emily is a member of the National Retail Federation Digital Council and RTech Center for Innovation at the Retail Industry Leaders Association. She holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois and a bachelor's degree in Engineering from the Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

Daqing Zhao

Dir. Advanced Analytics, Macys.com

Dir. Advanced Analytics, Macys.com

Daqing Zhao has over 20 years of experience in analyzing and taking actions on very large data. Trained in data analysis and large scale simulations on molecular systems, he gained extensive expertise in customer-centric marketing, optimizing for all stages of customer experience in acquisition, conversion, and retention. He has worked on segmentation and predictive modeling on banner ads, weblogs, search keywords, emails, transactions, call center data, for insights as well as personalization, media optimization, and customer lifetime values.

Daqing is currently Director of Advanced Analytics at Macys.com, leading the predictive analytics, test and experimentation and data science teams. He previously held senior management and technical leadership positions at Ask.com, the University of Phoenix, Tribal Fusion, Yahoo, Acxiom/Digital Impact, and Bank of America. He also worked on client analytics projects for Intel, HP, Wells Fargo Bank, SBC, Dell, T-Mobile, MSN Search and Travel, Intrawest, PayPal, wine.com, MasterCard and others. He also served as a coach for data science teams and graduate students.

Daqing received his Ph.D. from Stanford University, specialized in scientific data processing, simulations, and optimizations.