17 Leaders to Watch in 2017

While there can be plenty of debate about the vitality of the U.S. economy and the outlook for growth as the Trump presidency begins, there are three interrelated truths in the retail industry on which all can agree: Digital influences are transforming consumer behavior, the pace of change is accelerating, and marketplace participants are unrelenting in their quest for innovation.

These macro-trends have been in place for some time, but they continue to intensify and are at the root of actions being taken by a broad range of players impacting the industry in new and interesting ways. To explore who these folks are and why they are special, the team at Retail Leader, in conjunction with our colleagues at parent company EnsembleIQ, developed a list of 17 Leaders to Watch in 2017. The admittedly subjective approach yielded a diverse collection of individuals from retailer, supplier and service provider companies and, in random order, include the following:

Facilitator of CPG Innovation

Jim Andrew, SVP corporate strategy and chief venturing officer, PepsiCo
Serial innovator Jim Andrew turns his attention to PepsiCo.

Andrew joined PepsiCo last September after a brief stint at Sears Holdings, and the veteran consultant brings an interesting background to his newly created role at the consumer products giant. At PepsiCo, a $63 billion global food and beverage leader whose product portfolio includes 22 $1 billion brands, Andrew leads strategy development and strategic planning across all business units and global sectors. It is a key role within PepsiCo, which explains why Andrew reports directly to Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi. One of the most interesting aspects of Andrew's role, which also explains his curious title, is that he oversees PepsiCo's venture scouting activities, developing and nurturing both global and geography-specific venturing strategies and initiatives. His appointment comes at a time when retailers often bemoan a lack of CPG innovation.

Andrew joined PepsiCo from Sears Holdings, where he served six months in 2016 as the struggling retailer's chief administrative officer. Prior to that he was with Royal Phillips Electronics in the role of chief strategy officer. Prior to Phillips, Andrew spent 25 years with the Boston Consulting Group, where he established the firm's innovation practice and served as a senior partner and managing director at the time of his departure.

With an accounting degree from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Harvard, Andrew served as a charter member of the National Advisory Committee for Innovation and was the lead author of the book "Payback: Reaping the Rewards of Innovation."

The Fin-Tech defender

Barry McCarthy, executive vice president, network and solutions, First Data
Barry McCarthy leads the network and security solutions group at global technology leader First Data.

The average American has no idea just how much his or her daily life—and digital security—is affected by First Data. The global leader in commerce-enabling technology and solutions serves 6 million business locations and 4,000 financial institutions in 118 countries. First Data secures and processes more than 2,500 transactions per second, totaling a staggering $1.9 trillion annually.

In an increasingly digital world prone to all manner of threats, the daunting challenge of making sure the backbone of commerce functions flawlessly, safely and securely rests with Barry McCarthy. The 13-year First Data veteran leads the firm's $1.6 billion Network and Security Solutions (NSS) group. It is a role that involves overseeing network solutions including EFT network services, such as STAR, debit, ATM processing, and prepaid network services, such as Valuelink, MoneyNetwork and Gyft. He also leads First Data's Security Solutions, which includes TransArmor, TeleCheck and the company's suite of fraud-prevention solutions and the government solutions business.

McCarthy is a fin-tech veteran who previously led First Data's financial services segment and played a leadership role in the company's collaboration with Apple on Apple Pay. He also chairs a group created in 2015 called FinTech Atlanta, focused on cementing the city's status as the global financial technology capital. Despite his considerable fin-tech skills, McCarthy's business career began in the consumer goods world. He spent 12 years with Procter & Gamble in marketing and sales roles, where he launched new products under the Oil of Olay, Secret, Sure and Old Spice brands.

Architect of Efficiency

Mark Hardy, chief executive officer, InContext Solutions
Hardy's company is showing retailers and supplier there's more to virtual reality (VR) than gaming and entertainment.

The company Hardy has led as CEO since 2012 is transforming the way retailers make decisions about product assortments and shopper experiences. Just as virtual reality offers gamers an immersive experience with eerie realism, so too does InContext's ShopperMX platform. The big difference is InContext leverages the technology to help customers drive real business value by allowing retailers and manufacturers to realistically simulate in-store shopping situations. Doing so allows for the ability to ideate, evaluate and activate all types of merchandising, display, layout and other in-store shopping experiences within a VR store environment. Companies are able to reduce costs and make faster decisions with a higher probability of success by testing and evaluating ideas in the virtual reality store environment instead of physical stores.

Several recent key developments engineered by Hardy have put the company on an explosive growth trajectory. Last year, InContext secured a $15.2 million funding infusion from Intel Capital and private equity firm Beringea. InContext was already working with Intel to push the boundaries of its product portfolio, but the new funding will help accelerate sales and marketing efforts while improving products and developing new solutions for head-mounted devices.

In pursuit of that mission, Hardy brings a diverse skill set accumulated during a career that began at Procter & Gamble and also included executive roles as GfK NOP, Dun & Bradstreet, Survey Sampling International, IRI and Greenfield Online.

The Big Data Deliverer

Andrew Appel, President and CEO, IRI
Appel leads a technology- and data-driven company at the forefront of the consumer buying revolution.

Few people know as much about consumer preferences and shopper behavior as Andrew Appel. As president and CEO of data and analytics company IRI, Appel oversees a vast database of behavioral information, a growing roster of partnerships and an expanding range of predictive capabilities that help clients create value.

Appel joined IRI as president and CEO in the summer of 2012, and since then has led the company's transformation from a leading insights provider to a technology-focused big data company. That means IRI now integrates on a cloud-based platform the world's largest repository of otherwise disconnected data sets from which retailers and CPG companies are able to glean insights to drive value creation. During his tenure, Appel has overseen the development of a variety of products and solutions, expanded IRI's business into new industries and markets, and created a best-of-breed market research ecosystem with more than 30 active partnerships.

IRI's transformation has benefitted from Appel's strong finance and technology background. With an economics degree and an MBA from the University of Chicago, Appel was a senior partner at McKinsey & Co. early in his career and was a founding member of the firm's global business technology and operations practice. From there he went on to hold senior executive roles with Accretive Health and Aon, a leading human-resource consulting and outsourcing firm.

As 2017 dawns, Appel has IRI positioned in the sweet spot of where retailers and suppliers need to be to grow their business.

Kroger's Digital Accelerator

Yael Cosset, group vice president and chief digital officer, Kroger
Kroger is serious about omnichannel and has a new executive in place to drive digital efforts.

A dominant theme at Kroger in 2017 promises to be an intensification of efforts to apply technology and innovation across a retail footprint that includes nearly 2,800 food stores, 787 convenience stores and 324 jewelry stores. That's because in a noteworthy leadership shift announced in December, Kroger said that Yael Cosset would assume the role of group vice president and chief digital officer at Kroger from a retiring Kevin Dougherty.

Cosset brings a decidedly different perspective to the role than Dougherty, a 15-year Kroger veteran who has spent most of his career in logistics. Dougherty became group vice president of digital in 2012 and chief digital officer in 2015. During those years he led ClickList, Kroger's omnichannel effort, which lets customers buy online and pick up at 550 store locations and counting.

Dougherty got Kroger into the digital game, but it will be up to Cosset to accelerate growth by leveraging data, shopper insights and innovative approaches yet to be developed. Cosset's background is that of a technologist, and he most recently served as chief commercial officer and CIO with 84.51°, the curious-sounding company created in April 2015 when dunnhumby and Kroger replaced their longstanding joint venture agreement with a new long-term license and service agreement. Prior to that, Cosset held the role of global chief information officer at dunnhumby for nearly three and a half years.

Cosset joined dunnhumby in 2009 as executive vice president of consumer markets, and in 2011 he became CEO at dunnhumby's KSS Retail division, focused on price optimization.

Over the past decade, Cosset has developed a deep understanding of Kroger's business, given that the dunnhumby relationship is regularly cited as a reason for Kroger's success. Now Cosset is in a position to more directly impact Kroger's digital success.

The next-gen disruptor

Anil Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO, Shoptalk
More than 5,000 people are expected to attend an event Aggarwal created that didn't exist until a year ago.

This March the Aria hotel in Las Vegas will be buzzing with activity, as an estimated 5,000 people gather for Shoptalk, an event Aggarwal helped create and masterfully positioned as the "nextgen commerce event." The inaugural event was held in May 2016, and despite what seemed like an ambitious first-year forecast for 2,000 attendees, the final tally was roughly 3,100. Credit a content-driven strategy, considerable C-level involvement and plenty of promotional bluster for the high level of interest. This year promises more of the same as Shoptalk successfully established itself as a uniquely positioned event in an otherwise crowded landscape that posed the question of whether there was really an unmet need in the market for a new event.

Aggarwal and Shoptalk co-founder Jonathon Weiner knew there was, and had heard similar sentiments in 2011 when they launched a financial technology event called Money20/20 that also needed to differentiate itself from an abundance of other fin-tech events. The combination of content and senior-level executive involvement worked well, and after four years, Money20/20 had become a must-attend event, attracting more than 10,000 attendees in the U.S. and spawning international versions in Europe and Asia.

Shoptalk appears to be on a similar trajectory, with an international version already planned for fall 2017 in Copenhagen with an attendee forecast of 2,000.

Whether in Europe or the U.S., Shoptalk's format is focused on covering the evolution of how consumers discover, shop and buy. It is structured to bring together a diverse collection of leaders from established retailers and brands, disruptive startups, leading tech and internet companies, venture capital investors and pretty much anyone seeking to understand where commerce is headed.

The Master Strategist

Chris Donnelly, senior managing director, retail, Accenture
Accenture adds value with acquisition of Kurt Salmon.

Accenture was already a global powerhouse in the professional services world, with roughly 380,000 employees worldwide serving diverse client needs in more than 120 countries. The broad range of services and solutions Accenture offers in the areas of strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations helped the company generate annual revenues of nearly $33 billion. That figure will grow with last year's acquisition of the well-respected Kurt Salmon firm.

Although small relative to Accenture—Kurt Salmon has 260 employees—the deal brings to the Accenture Strategy division Kurt Salmon's established leadership in operational strategy consulting, including logistics and supply chain, merchandising and product development, corporate strategy, due diligence and omnichannel retail strategy.

Ensuring the smooth integration of Kurt Salmon into Accenture and the delivery of services to clients is Chris Donnelly, senior managing director for retail with Accenture Strategy. In that capacity and as a member of Accenture's Global Leadership Council, Donnelly works with leading global retailers to address the critical issues facing their businesses, from reshaping strategy to rethinking operating models.

For his part, Donnelly has more than 23 years of retail experience with deep skills in the planning, design, and implementation of transformation projects with a particular focus on merchandising, benefits realization and shareholder value creation. Prior to his current role, Donnelly was the global industry managing director for retail and managing director for Accenture United Kingdom and Ireland Retail.

For his part, Donnelly has more than 23 years of retail experience with deep skills in the planning, design, and implementation of transformation projects and a particular focus on merchandising, benefits realization and shareholder value creation. Prior to his current role, Donnelly was the global industry managing director for retail and managing director for Accenture United Kingdom and Ireland Retail.

Global Health Care Provider

Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance.
Challenge of successful integration of Rite Aid acquisition looms for Gourlay.

Alex Gourlay was relatively unknown on the U.S. retail scene until a few years ago. That all changed when Walgreens and Alliance Boots combined to become Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) in December 2014, creating what the company called "the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise."

Now the health care power player is looking to integrate several thousand recently acquired Rite Aid stores into an already sizable 8,175-store Retail Pharmacy USA division that generated $83.8 billion of WBA's global sales of $117.3 billion in the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2016. The acquisition of Rite Aid, which operates about 4,500 stores with annual sales of $26.5 billion, will easily push sales of WBA's U.S. retail division above the $100 billion mark, even if the Federal Trade Commission requires the company to divest upwards of 1,000 stores to grant antitrust clearance. The massive integration, and the increased leverage it gives the company in the health care ecosystem, will occur on Gourley's watch.

Over time, Gourley's responsibilities are expected to expand to the entire WBA enterprise. At 56 and head of WBA's largest division, he is seen as the logical successor to CEO Stefano Pessina, who at 75 would appear to be nearing retirement. Gourley's longtime colleague and co-COO, Ornella Barra, 62, leads WBA's two other divisions, the $22.6 billion pharmaceutical wholesale division and the $13.3 billion retail pharmacy international division with nearly 4,700 stores in the United Kingdom, Thailand, Norway, Ireland, the Netherlands, Mexico and Chile.

Gourley and Barra were named co-COOs in June 2016, but his leadership at Walgreens began shortly after a June 2012 deal that involved Walgreens acquiring a 45 percent interest in Alliance Boots. Gourley had served as chief executive of the health and beauty division at Alliance Boots since January 2009, but in October 2013 he was named president of customer experience and daily living at Walgreens. When Walgreens acquired the remainder of Alliance Boots in December 2014, Gourley was promoted to president.

Maestro of the Millennials

Evan Spiegel, co-founder and CEO, Snap Inc.
More than 100 million people use Snapchat every day, which makes the mobile medium another place CPG companies need to be.

The manner in which consumer goods companies engage with consumers and seek to influence purchase behavior changed forever with the advent of digital. Media such as Google, Facebook and Pinterest currently dominate, but the next big thing is Snapchat. It's already a big thing with 75 million millennials ages 18 to 34, more than 41 percent of whom Snapchat says it reaches daily.

Evan Siegel co-founded the company in 2013, and 2017 is shaping up to be a watershed year. Snapchat changed its named to Snap Inc., on Sept. 24, 2016—the same day the company launched a consumer electronics device called Spectacles and declared itself a camera company. Spectacles are sunglasses with a wireless video camera integrated into a corner of the frames. The camera captures 10-second video clips which are easily shareable via BlueTooth or Wi-Fi to the Snapchat app.

Whether Spectacles are a novelty item or digital game changer the likes of the iPhone remains to be seen. However, Spiegel contends that reinventing the camera represents the company's greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate, and that Snap's products empower people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world and have fun together. Already, Snapchatters, as the company calls users of its app, watch more than 10 billion videos per day, which the company says is a 350 percent increase from last year.

Consumer acceptance of Spectacles will become evident this year, and subsequent versions will surely offer upgrades, along with new possibilities for CPG companies to influence millennials' behavior. In the meantime, Spiegel's popular social media platform is going to make him immensely wealthy in 2017. One of the reasons for the name change to Snap Inc., is said to be the company's pending initial public offering. Speculation about Snap's offering has put the company's valuation as high as $40 billion, which is greater than the market capitalization of Kroger.

New Age Warehouse Club Winner

Heather Mayo, chief merchandising officer, has a key executive in place to disrupt the warehouse club channel. was founded in 2013 as the anti-warehouse club—no membership fees or physical presence—designed to appeal to millennials. Since then, the company has billed itself as the most convenient way to shop for groceries and household products in bulk at the lowest prices. The no-fee, free-delivery approach targets what it believes is the exposed flank of the Costco and Sam's Club operating model.

To help CEO and founder Chieh Huang deliver on that value proposition, the company in November 2016 made a key hire, bringing veteran warehouse club merchant and operator Heather Mayo into the fold. As chief merchandising officer, Mayo leads the development and execution of all merchandising strategies and initiatives, and is responsible for delivering the optimal product assortment consistent with the brand strategy of targeting millennials. Most customers are able to receive orders within two days as Boxed fulfills orders from distribution centers in New Jersey, Las Vegas and Atlanta.

Mayo could be just what needs to take on Costco and Sam's Club, competitors with much greater pricing power, supply chain prowess and ambitious online plans of their own. Mayo should know: She spent nearly 12 years at Sam's in a variety of merchandising roles, which allowed her to develop valuable supplier relationships. She most recently served as senior vice president of operations at Sam's. Prior to Sam's, she did a two-year stint at IBM in an executive consultant role. Prior to that, she spent a decade at BJ's Wholesale Club in a variety of positons of increasing responsibility, including assistant vice president of specialty business.

Offerer of Online Insights

Tim Steiner, CEO, Ocado
The online efforts of supermarkets in the United States lag their European counterparts, but Ocado wants to help narrow the gap.

Ocado is an online grocery leader in the United Kingdom and, while it won't achieve that status in the U.S. anytime soon, it could still have a major impact on U.S. retailers omnichannel efforts.

Steiner's company has been making waves in the United Kingdom's online grocery market since it was founded in 2000. Steiner earned degrees in economics, finance and accounting from Manchester University and then spend eight years with Goldman Sachs at the firm's London, Hong Kong and New York branches. He put those financial skills to use to launch Ocado's delivery service in 2002. The business scaled quickly: By 2005 its coverage area reached 10 million households, in 2008 it implemented a price match guarantee with market leader Tesco, and in 2010 it went public.

Ocado operates roughly two dozen fulfillment centers and employs proprietary technology to gain share in the United Kingdom's highly developed online grocery market. Ocado's average orders per week increased nearly 18 percent to 241,000 in the fourth quarter ended Nov. 27, 2016. Its full-year sales reached more than $1.7 billion. The company's delivery vans average about 175 deliveries per week with an order accuracy rate of 99.1 percent. Steiner attributes the growth rate to Ocado's combination of selection (nearly 50,000 SKUs), competitive pricing and superior service enabled by proprietary technology.

Now Steiner has the company focused on allowing retailers in international markets to use its technology. A service branded as the Ocado Smart Platform allows retailers, including those in the U.S. wrestling with executing an omnichannel program, to leverage Ocado's expertise as a dedicated online grocer. At last word, Ocado said it was in conversations with multiple international grocery retailers to use its Smart Plartform and confident it would sign multiple deals in the medium term.

Walmart's Online Assortment Expander

Tri Huynh, director of business development, Marketplace sales benefit from marketplace assortment expansion.

Before Walmart acquired for $3.3 billion, the company was quietly addressing a key shortcoming of its online product assortment: a lack of breadth, which left it at a disadvantage to Amazon.

To fix the situation, Walmart borrowed a page from Amazon's playbook along with one of its former employees. Tri Huynh spent three years at Amazon in the key role of category leader for the marketplace consumer electronics business. He left Amazon in 2014 to join the team located in San Bruno, Calif., and expand the online assortment offered by third-party sellers in the marketplace. Although created in 2009, only 2 million items were offered when Huynh arrived, but by April of last year that figure had grown to 5 million and by Christmas the number was in excess of 15 million.

Huynh, a refugee from Vietnam, arrived in the U.S. in 1980 at the age of 12, earned a Harvard MBA in 1996, and pursued a technology career at Booz Allen Hamilton, Array Networks, Infosys, Motif and Mu Sigma before landing at Amazon in 2011. At Walmart, Huynh is part of a team led by Seth Beal, SVP of Walmart Global Marketplace, that is being selective in its approach to assortment expansion. Unlike Amazon, sellers must submit an application to be considered for a listing which gives them access to's more than 100 million monthly visitors. Sellers are responsible for order fulfillment and there are no monthly listing fees. Walmart takes a percentage which varies by category, but is said to be smaller than Amazon's cut.

A Fighter for Food Growth

Jon Nudi, senior vice president and president of U.S. retail, General Mills
Veteran General Mills exec Nudi returns to the U.S. and marketplace growth challenges.

Growth in the CPG world has been hard to come by for many of the largest companies thanks to private label, deflationary pressures and the success of tertiary brands eroding demand. That's been the case at General Mills, whose roster of brands such as Cheerios, Annie's, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Fiber One, Häagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Wanchai Ferry and Yoki has been under pressure. General Mills' U.S. retail segment sales for the first quarter (ended Aug. 28) declined 8 percent to $2.33 billion, and that was after sales declined 2 percent to $10 billion during the fiscal year ended May 29.

Welcome home Jon Nudi. The longtime General Mills executive spent the past few years running the company's European, Australian and New Zealand businesses, but last September was tapped to serve as president of the U.S. retail division, which accounts for more than half the company's sales. He filled a position previously occupied by Jeff Harmening, who was promoted to the role of president and chief operating officer and is Nudi's new boss.

Macro conditions in the U.S. market present Nudi with plenty of growth challenges, many of which will be familiar given his diverse background. From 2010 to 2014, he was president of the U.S. Snacks division, with responsibility for brands such as Nature Valley granola bars, Betty Crocker fruit snacks and Chex Mix. Prior to that role, Nudi led marketing for Green Giant vegetables and frozen entrees. Before that he was responsible for Betty Crocker side dishes and strategic growth channels in the company's meals division. He joined the company in 1993 and held a variety of sales roles before becoming a marketing director in 2005 and a vice president in 2007.

The $1 Billion Man

Jeff Jarrett, global head of e-commerce, Mondelez International
Former Kimberly-Clark exec Jarret joins Mondelez to drive an e-commerce agenda.

Snack and confectionary company Mondelez International has set a lofty goal: to generate $1 billion in e-commerce sales by 2020. That's a big number and a short time horizon, especially considering the company drew that line in the sand in the fall of 2015 when its online revenues totaled $100 million.

To deliver on that goal, Mondelez created a dedicated team tasked with the simultaneous objectives of optimizing existing e-commerce platforms by converting every consumer connection into a purchase opportunity while building the next-generation portfolio to take advantage of incremental opportunities. One way to drive growth involved an April 2016 strategic partnership with Alibaba Group that enables Mondelez to tap into the Chinese consumer market. Mondelez offers brands such as Oreo, Chips Ahoy!, belVita, Toblerone, Cadbury and Trident through a flagship store on Alibaba's platform, which it also uses to launch exclusive products.

That initiative occurred prior to Jarrett joining Mondelez last October after serving as Kimberly-Clark's vice president of global e-commerce and commercial innovation. As part of the restructuring effort, e-commerce was moved out of the realm of marketing so that Jarrett reports to chief growth officer Tim Cofer. Reporting to Jarrett, as part of an e-commerce team of about 60 people, is Neil Ackerman, who joined Mondelez in late 2015 from Amazon. He previously held a key role in the online giant's Fulfilled by Amazon program, and together with Jarrett is driving a direct-to-consumer business that just a few years ago would have rankled traditional partners. Today, as the distributed commerce model of shoppers being able to buy products whenever and wherever they want, the $1 billion goal Mondelez set appears readily attainable.

Future Food Investor

Mary Kay James, vice president and general manager, Tyson New Ventures
James leads Tyson's newly created $150 million VC fund.

Tyson has been turning a lot of heads in the food industry with some of its recent moves. First, the world's largest seller of chicken, beef and pork acquired a 5 percent ownership stake in plant-based protein producer Beyond Meat. Then in December it announced the creation of a new venture capital fund called Tyson New Ventures. Seeded with $150 million, the VC fund is part of a commitment to innovation and growth that complements the company's already sizable investments in innovation in fresh meats, poultry and prepared foods, Tyson said.

The venture capital fund, led by Tyson new hire and general manager Mary Kay James, will focus on investing in companies developing breakthrough technologies, business models and products to sustainably feed a growing world population. James brings to Tyson considerable experience in the VC world. She spent more than two decades at Dupont and was part of the Dupont Ventures team from the time it was launched in 2003, serving as managing director of the unit prior to joining Tyson. James also previously served as chair of the National Venture Capital Association.

In her new role, James will collaborate with food entrepreneurs pioneering new products and technology to help them accelerate growth by leveraging Tyson's capabilities in such areas as food and culinary research and development, sourcing, insights, customer relationships and distribution. Areas of focus include alternative proteins, elimination of food waste and leveraging innovative trends in technology.

The appointment of James and creation of the fund comes as Tyson spent nearly $100 million on research and development during its fiscal year ended Oct. 1, roughly double the amount spent just two years earlier.

The New Chief Brewmaster

Kevin Johnson, President and Chief Operating Officer, Starbucks
Filling the shoes of an iconic CEO and driving continued growth at Starbucks is a tall order.

A new era begins at Starbucks on April 3, 2017, when current President and COO Kevin Johnson replaces Howard Schultz as CEO and Schultz assumes the role of executive chairman.

Starbucks is one of those retailers whose tremendous success is attributable to the vision and leadership of its founder. Naturally, there are concerns when that founder decides to hand day-to-day control to an executive who is relatively new to the company and has primarily a technology background.

That is the case with incoming CEO Johnson, who spent 33 years in the technology world, including 16 years in senior leadership roles at Microsoft and five years as CEO of Juniper Networks. He joined the Starbucks board in 2009 and then assumed an operational role in March 2015 when he was named president and COO. When he takes the helm of Starbucks in April, he will be leading a truly unique company that blurs the lines between retailer, foodservice operator and global CPG brand, with designs on growing in all three areas—in addition to several upscale initiatives Schultz will lead to drive Starbucks' brand equity.

The initiatives that Johnson will lead were laid out just days after his appointment was announced and Starbucks held its biennial investor conference. At that meeting, the company shared details of a five-year plan that includes continued expansion of the retail footprint and increased foodservice offerings. The company, which already operates 25,100 units globally, expects to add another 12,000 locations by 2021, including 5,000 units in China, a market the company expects to eclipse the U.S. over time.

Expanded food offerings in existing locations and the "premiumization" of the Starbucks experience are also expected to be key drivers of growth on Johnson's watch. The company is looking to add more food choices to traditional Starbucks stores while introducing an entirely new format with the potential for 1,000 locations. The new concept is called Reserve and will integrate the theater and romance of the company's high-end flagship Roastery locations to offer unique culinary experiences. In addition, Starbucks plans to continue to innovate on the mobile front and drive $1 billion in incremental revenue with CPG products, branded solutions and ready-to-drink offerings.

Champion of Transparency

Michael Forhez, global vice president, consumer markets, 1WorldSync
Transparency and personalization are dominant themes in the retail industry, and 1WorldSync is a key enabler of both.

Most consumers have never heard of 1WorldSync, but if it weren't for the organization's efforts retailers and suppliers would have a hard time satisfying the new normal that is consumers' desire for transparency. 1WorldSync's Product Information Cloud platform is the leading product information network, helping more than 23,000 global brands and their trading partners in 60 countries share authentic and trusted content with consumers to make more informed purchase decisions.

The notion of data sharing and accuracy, trusted and authentic content and transparency have become core competencies for all companies in the digital age. No one knows that better than Michael Forhez, 1WorldSync's global vice president of consumer markets. In that role, Forhez serves as an industry thought leader and passionate advocate for transparency who brings his 25 years of diversified sales, marketing and management consulting experience to bear at 1WorldSync. In regular meetings with diverse stakeholders, Forhez is a key figure helping advance the global product transparency agenda.

There is much work to be done as 1WorldSync is a relatively young organization operating in a field steadily gaining importance. In a 2012 merger of 1SYNC and SA2 WorldSync, the combined entity that emerged was 1WorldSync. It is jointly owned by the membership organizations of GS1 Germany and GS1 US, which are the dominant global organizations in the development of standards to identify, capture and share product information.

Forhez is helping the industry better understand how 1WorldSync enables its customers to provide timely, better-quality product images and information, while reducing the cost of data acquisition so that when consumers are searching for product information they are better able to find it. That's good news for consumers, and the value proposition for retailers and brands is that they spend less time sourcing and validating product information.