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10 Best CIOs to Watch 2019

Retail Business Services: Leveraging Innovation and Technology for the Future of Grocery Retail

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“Our greatest value is to not only deliver solutions for today, but also for the future.”

Consumer expectations are rapidly changing, and increasingly, consumers are demanding flexibility in when, where and how they access good and services. This customer evolution is posing new challenges for retailers, particularly in grocery. Few are stepping up to the plate the way Retail Business Services has, particularly with respect to information technology (IT). With technologies like frictionless solutions, rapid ordering deli kiosks, item location technology and others, Retail Business Services is paving the way in creating technology for the future of grocery retail.

The services company of grocery retail group Ahold Delhaize USA, Retail Business leverages the scale of the local brands – Food Lion, Giant Food, GIANT/MARTIN’S, Hannaford, Peapod and Stop & Shop – to drive synergies and provides industry-leading expertise, insights, and analytics to local brands to support their strategies. Recently we sat down with Paul Scorza, EVP & CIO, for an in-depth conversation about the role of IT in solving the organization’s biggest challenges, and envisioning solutions for opportunities the business hasn’t considered yet.

A Conversation with Paul Scorza, EVP, IT & CIO, Retail Business Services

Q. CIO is considered as the organizational glue for driving change. Do you agree?

Absolutely, CIOs play an important role in driving change. If you think about the role of IT, we’re often developing better ways of working and delivering on customer needs through IT innovation. We’re ahead of the curve, offering solutions before the business even knows they need them. While there may be some resistance from time to time, if you can get one person to adopt or sign on, others will quickly follow. IT is permeated throughout the business. Our greatest value is to not only deliver solutions for today, but also for the future.

Q. Can you brief us about the history of your company and the importance of your role in its success?

Retail Business Services was launched in January 2018 to support Ahold Delhaize USA’s five consumer facing grocery retail companies, and the country’s largest online grocery retailer, Peapod. Since our first day, IT has had a seat at the table on the leadership team and that has enabled us to successfully support these brands. We have co-op programs where we bring about a hundred students each year into our innovation lab that innovate and develop technology that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to produce. We’re constantly testing new technologies and formats.

Q. What do you think are the main qualities to become a successful CIO?

A CIO can only be successful if he/she has built a team that delivers consistently, whether that’s delivering quality software and solutions that consistently perform well or ensuring you are a good business partner, building strong relationships, and consistently delivering on expectations.

Q. According to you, what are the biggest obstacles to success?

All companies today need to operate with a technology company mindset. It’s not the right mindset to view IT as an expense that is increasing the cost of doing business. IT is an investment that brings value. Fortunately, I work for an organization that views IT investments and innovation as valuable, and I am grateful for this type of environment and the space it gives us to deliver on business needs.

Q. How do you manage the partnership between IT and the rest of the business?

IT business partnerships are about serving the customer and driving value. One way we do this is we have a Business Relationship Manager (BRM) who supports each of our executive leaders across the organization. The BRMs sit with each business, in our case the local brands, and attend the senior leadership meetings in each of these groups to serve as an advocate for the brand and their IT needs.

Q. What would you say was the most influential factor in your professional success?

My education and mentorship I received as I was progressing through my career have been important. That’s why I am so passionate about providing opportunities for young people to engage with technology today. I am a passionate supporter of our co-op program for college and graduate students and recent grads. IT is a sum of great ideas and we must nurture the individuals who are going to create the future.

Q. What do you think is the most memorable moment to cherish in your career?

The most memorable moment in my career was being named to the leadership team and having a seat at the board room table. This was in 2013 before a lot of companies were including IT in these discussions. It was a win for me personally and a win for the value of the IT function.

Q. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

One word: Deliver. You must deliver on what you say you will do, and you must build a team that delivers. You and your team have to deliver technology that works. As a CIO, you have to take care of your teams and ensure your teams embrace this culture – for example, delivering excellent customer service through the business relationship manager model. Delivering is the key to success. My advice – focus on delivering, and you’ll succeed every time.

About Paul Scorza

Paul Scorza is the Chief Information Officer and Executive Vice President of Information Technology for Retail Business Services. Mr. Scorza has nearly 40 years of experience in information technology.

Before joining Retail Business Services, Mr. Scorza was Executive Vice President, IT and Chief Information Officer for Ahold USA. Prior to that, he spent 32 years at IBM where he held several leadership positions including Vice President of Global Delivery, Vice President and Transformation Executive for Finance, Global Financing, Technical Support, and Application Portfolio Management, Vice President Americas, and Application Solutions Delivery Leader.

Mr. Scorza holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a combined MBA and an M.S. degree in computer science from Marist College.

“My education and mentorship I received as I was progressing through my career have been important. That’s why I am so passionate about providing opportunities for young people to engage with technology today.”