Diane Randolph, CIO of retail powerhouse Ulta Beauty, is among a distinguished group of female retail tech executives. It’s a network that continues to grow, and one that Chain Store Age honors in its annual feature, “Top 10 Women in Retail Tech.”
Randolph was a member of Chain Store Age’s sophomore class of honorees in 2015 — the year after she joined Ulta as CIO. Before that, she served as VP, CIO at Canada’s Reitman’s Ltd., for almost a decade.
Chain Store Age recently spoke with Randolph, who discussed her career path and shared insights for succeeding in retail tech.
CSA: What qualities would you say make you an innovator? Randolph: I am extremely fortunate to be part of an organization that continually challenges itself to look for new ways to surprise and delight our guests. At Ulta Beauty, my team and I are encouraged to leverage our talents and experience and look for ways that we can provide technology solutions that enhance human interactions — for both our guests and our associates.
Collaborating across the entire organization has helped develop initiatives that look at all angles of an idea and that include many points of view. I'm particularly proud of the work we have done in building a mobile app that complements and enriches our in-store experience by offering features like GlamLab, which allows guests to virtually try products.
CSA: How has your career changed, and what keeps you motivated? Randolph: IT, at its very core, is ever-changing. To continue succeeding in the field, IT professionals must thrive on the evolution and the challenges it presents.
Throughout my career, I have had many opportunities to learn and develop new skills — from training, development and management to executive leadership — all of which have offered exciting challenges that helped build my career. Earlier in my career, I also moved from providing solutions and services at a software company to a retail company that consumed those products and services — this was one of my most important choices.
I gained a critical advantage in seeing operations from both sides. I am able to impart what I've learned in building my team. Being able to shape and develop new retail IT leaders gives me my greatest satisfaction.
CSA: What advice would you give other female executives eager to achieve IT success? Randolph: Being an IT executive today requires skills across many dimensions. My advice is to experience as many roles as possible, both within the IT domain as well as among other areas of your organization.
Exposure to different points of view is the key to continual learning and improvement. I also believe that networking is a powerful resource to be nurtured. Participating in retail CIO councils is also tremendously rewarding.