Introducing: Naveen Krishna, Chief Technology Officer, Macy’s, Inc.

This June, Macy’s, Inc. welcomed a new Chief Technology Officer, Naveen Krishna. Coast to Coast caught up with Krishna to learn more about him and his plans to propel us into the next generation of the customer experience.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am an engineer by training and have worked in retail and consumer products for most of my career. As an engineer, I really enjoyed building things, which attracted me to technology. What better place to build something and see it come to life than retail?

My family is made up of myself, my wife, and our daughter. We recently got a puppy – now that’s real work!

What led you to Macy’s? What excites you most about assuming this role?

Working in past retail roles, I’ve always kept a close watch on Macy’s for two reasons: 1. the iconic brand and 2. the top engineering talent. Macy’s is such an iconic brand – you hear the word “retail” and you think “Macy’s.” We have always been at the forefront of fashion and innovation. Plus, it’s not every day that you get the opportunity to make a difference in a company that’s over 150 years old.

Additionally, I am super excited to join Macy’s at this pivotal time. I feel Macy’s has an amazing opportunity to transform department store retailing by connecting our stores and digital properties. Macy’s is known for customer service and a lot of great work has been done, but there’s more to do as we continue forward on our Path to Growth.

Since joining, I’ve seen our colleagues live Macy’s values of Acceptance, Respect, Integrity, and Giving Back every day, which is so refreshing.

You’ve talked about the importance of speed in decision making and taking risks. Can you talk more about these concepts?

We live in a time when we all need to be comfortable with disrupting what we have built – or else someone else will. This requires us to not only make thoughtful and good decisions, but also to make them quickly.

Technology and our customer preferences and expectations are ever-evolving and we need to be where our customers expect us to be. This requires us to experiment and take some risks, some that will succeed and some that will fail. There’s a lot to be learned from our noble failures – we should embrace them and Get Better Every Day.

What was an important lesson you learned that you’ve carried with you throughout your career?

I believe that trust is the foundation for most everything. For that reason, I start with giving 100% of my trust, and it’s up to the individual to maintain that.

If you could go back in time and give your younger self a piece of career advice, what would it be?

I’d share a quote that I read a little while back and has since stuck with me: “Success is a lousy teacher – it makes smart people believe they cannot lose.”

Let’s talk about retail and technology. What do you think are Macy’s greatest opportunities in the technology space?

Improving the in-store experience for our customers is a huge opportunity for us. Technology plays a key role in this, as it will allow us to create a frictionless experience for our customers by connecting our physical stores with our digital properties.

For our colleagues, technology can help in a huge way by reducing tasking activities so they can spend more face-to-face time with customers.

What excites you most about the technology space?

The pace at which technology is evolving is amazing, as is its ease of use. The amount of open-source technologies available makes it easy to apply advanced techniques, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, to everyday problems in retail.

Where do you see retail in five years?

The experience a customer has when making a purchase will be a large factor in the customer’s decision to spend their money with one retailer versus another. For that reason, a focus on the customer experience is essential.

What does success look like to you – both on a company and personal level?

On a company level, achieving the highest level of customer service and customer experience would mean success.

On a personal level, I started playing the guitar about a year ago. Progress has been slow, and success would mean playing one of Pink Floyd’s songs all the way through.