We will be featuring Women in Retail Leadership Circle members and advisory board members in Inner Circle Q & As over the next several months. We want you to get to know them! The interviews will highlight what makes our members so special–from their leadership styles to their favorite vacation spots and everything in between. This week’s Q&A features a conversation with Ivy Chin, a member of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle’s Advisory Board and divisional senior vice president of digital for PetSmart.
Taylor Knight: What are your thoughts on the retail industry today?
Ivy Chin: It’s a challenging yet exciting time in retail. Technology has accelerated the expectations of consumers and lowered the cost of market entry for competition. Retailers with a business model that focuses on addressing consumer needs, providing incremental values and delivering disruptive innovation have a better chance at maintaining success or becoming successful.
Additionally, marketing to target audiences with a more personalized approach is a much more complex process than ever before. Leaders need a broader skill set and knowledge base, as well as innovative tools, to successfully navigate today’s rapidly changing retail landscape.
TK: What types of retail technology trends are you most interested in right now?
IC: Voice-enabled experiences and devices where people can shop verbally. I see this as major milestone in how people interact with devices to enhance their lifestyles. In my career, we moved from a green screen DOS user interface to icons and a mouse, which was much better, but still isn’t as natural of a user interface as talking to a device. As we move to voice-enabled experiences, we’re allowing people to engage through our most natural form of communication — speaking — and I believe that will elevate the experience to a completely different level in the next few years.
TK: To whom (or what) do you turn to for inspiration?
IC: Every day, I’m inspired by those around me. Inspiration can be found everywhere if we open our ears to listen, eyes to watch and heart to feel. For business-specific inspiration, our customers are at the top of my list. At PetSmart, we’re all about our pet parent customers — their needs, desires and wants.
TK: Do you have a mentor? Are you a mentee? Can you tell us about your relationship(s)?
IC: I am both a mentor and a mentee. I have multiple mentees that I’ve met through different channels, including college mentoring programs, programs at work and LinkedIn. Additionally, as a mentee, I have several mentors that I like to think of as my personal “board of directors.” When looking for mentors, I identified people who I believed would be a good fit for my particular strengths and developmental areas. I also considered how I could help them in return.
Both my mentees and mentors have changed over the years as I moved through different stages and challenges in my career. The most successful mentorships I’ve had typically share the following characteristics: mutual respect, trust, openness, shared interests and expertise, and a safe environment to share results from previous discussions and determine follow-up action. I’m forever grateful to the mentors I’ve had and thankful for all they’ve taught me.
TK: What’s your favorite vacation spot?
IC: Last summer, my family and I took an incredible trip to St. Petersburg, Russia. No photograph or video can fully capture the experience of walking into Russian churches with all the beautiful, detailed artwork. The architecture of the buildings and palaces was simply breathtaking. I could easily spend three months there to go through the collection at the Hermitage Museum. If you haven’t already been to St. Petersburg, I would highly recommend a visit!