Profile: Tammy Teague, Chief Information Officer, Key Food Stores Co-Operative

Tammy Teague’s roles throughout her 35-year career have varied, starting at Great Lakes Cheese where she gained experience in customer service, manufacturing, purchasing, financial operations and technology. She then spent 15 years with Nestle USA, where she led the SAP implementation for supply chain before moving into a unique role as director of integration and business transitions and acting as the technology lead for Nestle USA acquisitions and divestiture integrations. A six-year stint at Clarkston Consulting allowed her to further broaden her exposure to strategy development and execution. Her final client while there, Key Food Stores Co-Operative, ultimately brought her in as CIO, the position she holds today. One constant that has led to Teague’s success is having a strong aptitude for the business while understanding what it’s trying to accomplish and providing the right technology solutions for that. She is one of three Women of Excellence honorees in the “Leadership” category.

You’re currently working through a large business transformation, correct?

Teague: Yes, I took this CIO position to help Key Food Stores deliver what we collaboratively determined should be our strategy and transformation going forward. Every system and application in Key Food’s entire infrastructure is being replaced at this point in time, so we’re basically transforming our entire landscape. We’re not only working with the backbone and foundational ERP (enterprise resource planning), but also reshaping our digital strategy, point-of-sale and retail technology down in the stores at the same time. This is quite honestly the biggest scope of transformation I’ve ever seen.

What does that mean for the company going forward?

Teague:  Key Food Stores Co-Operative is a very successful group of independent grocers with 10 years of year-on-year growth. Our current business transformation enables us to continue that successful trend with the data, processes, services and technology needed by our retailers to service their shoppers.

What are your current responsibilities?

Teague: It’s a very exciting time for our employees as well as our members. My colleagues and I come to work and not only think of the possibilities and opportunities, but actually believe they’re not unattainable anymore. It’s bringing such a huge renewed energy to the office every single day. Specifically, I’m responsible for consumer-connected digital strategy, data-driven decision making, providing a retail technology foundation for our member stores, electronic payment services and new member store conversions.

What qualities do you believe constitute a true leader?

Teague:  Communication, vision, accountability and integrity. I’m in an organization that can move quickly and be very agile. Decisions are quick, whether to move in a direction or not, and communication is equally important as anywhere, but a bit less complex than when dealing with massive global conglomerates. I get to talk to people much more often face to face here, and I strongly believe we will achieve great things – and accomplish a whole lot more – if we have shared objectives. The members within our co-op are independent small business owners. I simply love working for them every day because they’re at their stores every day competing with the big retailers.

Please share an example of your work that pushed you to be a strong leader.

Teague: The implementation of SAP at Nestle USA. It was a massive project and a massive accomplishment. The reality is you become a leader through obstacles and challenges. It’s all about continuing to learn, and what I learned there – and try to still drive in my organization today – is that the key to successful projects or programs is spending an adequate amount of time before implementation really thinking through everything that could possibly go wrong. If you spend most of your time thinking about the perfect way you want everything to go, you’re not prepared for when real life happens.

What motivates you most in terms of the shopping experience?

Teague:  That each shopper is unique, and that each of our independent retail stores are also unique, which enables them to service their unique shoppers and community.  Discovering ways to embrace differentiation for the shopping experience in each of our stores motivates me every day.

What do you want to provide to your shoppers?

Teague: A positive and helpful experience for our shoppers on every interaction with them.

What excites you most about the future of technology?

Teague: Simply the possibilities technology can provide to our shoppers to enable the experience they uniquely desire.