Top Women in Retail 2017: Helen Vaid, Global Chief Customer Officer, Pizza Hut
What do you enjoy most about working in the retail industry?
Working in retail is challenging, invigorating and meaningful all at the same time. It’s changing at a pace that reflects our customers’ pace, and keeping up with our customers and trying to get ahead is an incredible task. Retail today is a melting pot of science and art that can push your intellectual and creative boundaries, but all of the output has to be grounded in the reality of making it work operationally. I love that balance of building experiences using all the new tools technology has to offer and serving it up in a simple way to those who want to access these experiences. And last, I love interacting with incredible people in retail. You learn something new every day, and that’s hard to beat.
If you weren't working in the retail industry, what do you think you'd be doing?
I’m a firm believer that if you’re not learning, you’re not living. I would be doing something that pushed me to learn new things, concepts, people, technology, travel … the space almost doesn’t matter as long as I was learning and discovering new problems.
How would you describe your leadership style?
The word I hear almost everyone use to describe me is “passionate.” I have to love what I do, and that’s hard to hide. I believe that when you unleash the collective passion of great teams, they’re unstoppable. Our job is to constantly raise the bar and not worry about missing the target. I’d rather aim for the impossible and discover new possibilities than not push the boundary. However, success is never the result of one individual. Great teams are made of people who are curious, driven, demanding (of themselves and each other) and those who leave their ego behind. I think all great teams have to constantly push themselves to live at the edge of their comfort zone.
What's the best advice you ever received, and who gave you the advice?
I recently read an incredible book that encapsulated the advice I’ve received over the years: “Your highest level goal as a person gets written in ink once you’ve done enough living and reflecting to know what that goal is. The lower-level goals get written in pencil so you can revise them and sometimes erase them altogether and then figure our new ones to take their place.”
My greatest learning has been to take time to discover that high-level goal that I might write in ink and letting my passion help me experience and find all the things that I can write in pencil and not being afraid of disrupting myself.
Do you have any mentors in the retail industry?
Retail is one industry where you can be mentored every day not just by senior people, but associates who run stores and interact with customers every day. I’ve been fortunate to have interacted with so many amazing individuals who have taught me how to grow and learn and fail. I’m truly indebted to so many people that it’s hard to give one name.
What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
I have two amazing kids and a husband who is my rock. I like to spend all my spare time with them. When I want time to myself, it’s spent with books or running on trails.
To see the full list of this year's Top Women in Retail honorees, click here.