Talent and technology go hand in hand with values

In today’s competitive job market, it can be easy for employers to choose skills and experience over a candidate’s alignment with a company’s core values. But by remaining faithful to an approach of “culture first” helped global sportswear company Lululemon Athletica Inc. mobilize world-class talent and technologists that are critical to the company’s global growth strategy.

Since joining Lululemon in 2017, the Chief Technology Officer, Julie Averillhas been instrumental in harnessing cutting-edge technology to transform the company’s retail business and improve the customer experience.

During an NRF Nexus session titled “Extending Technology to New Markets with a Culture-Driven Approach,” Averill explains how technology supports the company’s “Power of Three” growth strategy, which focuses on product innovation, omnidirectional experiences and international expansion.

Even when it comes to scaling technology, the key is this cultural approach that must prevail. At Lululemon, our values ​​are “Courage, Connection, Inclusion, Personal Responsibility and Fun”. These form the foundation of our culture and are what we stand for as a team. It is essential that we stick to these, even in times of pressure.”Averill maintains.

Among the technology trends in retail, the one that shocks the leader the most is the ability to leverage data, primarily artificial intelligence/machine learning. “The opportunities are endless and I think most retail organizations have only seen silos of their data. What excites me the most is harnessing the power of AI/ML with the ability to fully harness the power of enterprise data.”he says.

Averill’s thoughts on culture, talent and technology

Julie Averill, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Lululemon.

It also emphasizes the ability to “pleasure” to customers with “extremely personalized and relevant experiences”, while reducing time to market. In addition to increasing direct sales, they position themselves “Improve our stores with the right inventory just by having better data and knowing how to use it. We can predict trends and help our business partners have more confidence in their decisions”Averill adds.

Thinking back and thinking about the immediate future of the industry, Lululemon’s CTO says “the IT team” today is “the critical enablers of your business strategies”.

“We need to develop leaders and find talent in places we’ve never looked before. A diverse team that embodies fairness and equality is magnetic and creates a culture that others want to work in. I believe diversity is key, and every organization should ensure they use the broadest perspective possible to consider diverse candidates and continually invest in the development of their staff.”adds the executive.

“For us, top talent includes experience/expertise and alignment of values. I don’t want to hire someone who has an amazing pedigree but doesn’t want to share their knowledge and wants to be part of a team. This further reduces the talent pool.”says Averill about hiring tech talent within the company.

A good year and better planned to end it

The sportswear company’s revenue rose 32% to $1.6 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2022, while profits rose 24% to $870.4 million.

In early June, Lululemon Athletica raised its full-year revenue and profit guidance due to strong demand for activewear. He said the impact of COVID-19-related lockdowns in China was modest and more than offset by the strength in other regions.

The company forecasts revenues for the year 2022 between $7.61 billion and $7.71 billion. It also expects 2022 earnings to be between $9.42 and $9.57 per share, down from its previous guidance of $9.15 to $9.35.

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