Vice President of Technology Transformation and R&D, Kroger
It’s easy to see why Wesley Rhodes is so enthusiastic about his role as Kroger’s Vice President of Technology Transformation and R&D – it’s a dynamic position that requires out-of-the-box thinking, collaboration and a desire to make a profound difference, in a world that is constantly evolving and expanding into exciting new territory.
“Throughout my career, there have been two burning desires fuelling what I do,” he says. “Number one, I'm motivated by solving problems. It’s what I do. When you’re problem solving, there is going to be a certain level of failure but it’s about focusing your mindset – failure is a victory, because now something's been eliminated and you can try something else. The other thing is that I'm highly competitive and I like to win.”
“I want to make a difference and not waste my life so, when I get up in the morning, I ask, ‘what can I do that makes a difference?’. At Kroger, that means attacking problems that matter – eliminating hunger and waste. What other, greater things can you do than feed people and make it stretch by not wasting anything, than to work with others to try and bring the best out in them?”
QueVision remains one of Rhodes’s favourite projects during his time at Kroger. The programme began as a way store leaders could understand whether or not they had enough cashiers available to support the volume of people shopping in the store. The discrete simulation determined how many people were entering and exiting the store, then predicted when another checkout lane needed to be opened. After implementing QueVision, the average time a customer waited in the checkout lane dropped from four minutes to just 30 seconds.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, QueVision was used in a new way. Across the U.S., states began quickly implementing limits on the number of people who were allowed in indoor spaces as one step to curbing the virus’s spread. Rather than rely on associates standing at the door and counting people when they were needed in the store to stock shelves or shop digital orders, the Kroger Technology and Digital team turned to QueVision. They were able to quickly use the technology to monitor traffic and meet the unique requirements put in place by different states and cities. QueVision was even able to display visual indications when the store was approaching capacity and when it was within danger of moving beyond those legal requirements.
Inspired by his lifelong desire to do challenging and impactful work, Rhodes also finds himself “blown away” by the level of support, leadership and commitment demonstrated by his fellow Kroger leaders.
“Good leadership leads, they set an example,” he says. “They regularly set the example of doing something uncomfortable or receiving difficult feedback. I think that shows what the core values of our leadership are and why we are successful – because it’s a mindset demonstrated by leaders across all levels at the company.”
It's the perfect demonstration of leading by example not for kudos, but instead because it matters.
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“We're now shifting to delivery, pivoting into working more in the battle space, and supporting our ambitions in terms of NATO.