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Julie Averill has been at lululemon athletica for just over a year and still can’t believe how innovative and entrepreneurial the 20-year-old company is. “It truly acts like the startup that it was,” she says. As chief technology officer, Averill’s job is to ensure all the tech that keeps the business running smoothly, from inventory and supply chain to store management and human resources, are cutting edge and competitive.
Averill joined the co-hosts of Retail Gets Real in San Francisco while attending NRFtech, retail’s premier technology conference for CIOs, CDOs and senior IT executives, to discuss the role of tech in retail’s transformation and opportunities for women to rise to the top.
Technology is integral to any business decision and the IT department is no longer merely the service department of a business. An effective CTO is well-versed in the business process; the two fields have become as intertwined as ever. “It’s a partnership now where we are all driving the business,” Averill says. “We are all leading technology.”
When she started out, Averill wasn’t thinking of studying computer science or a career in tech even though she loved computers. “The idea of a degree in computer science was just so foreign,” she says, “because I didn’t know any women in computer science.” Times have changed, yet there’s still much to be done: Averill says she would start by educating students about technology and the opportunities the field offers for a career.
Listen to the episode for more on how lululemon athletica is implementing technology for business growth. Also check out why computer science grads should consider a career in retail just as much as in Silicon Valley.
Nadee Bandaranayake is an assistant producer on NRF’s Retail Gets Real podcast. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.