A billion-dollar digital channel, the most successful limited-time offer in a brand’s history, and a platform that empowers restaurants to take charge of their businesses online: These are just three noteworthy accomplishments from the winners of Hospitality Technology’s 2020 Top Women in Restaurant Technology Awards.
Sponsored by Tillster, the awards were presented at MURTEC in Las Vegas on March 10, and recognize women who are making their mark in a male-dominated industry. In the coming weeks we will be profiling each of the 10 honorees in-depth on hospitalitytech.com. Here is a preview of this year’s class of honorees.
BUILDING BRIDGES DIGITALLY
As Vice President, Digital Strategy and Product at Chipotle Mexican Grill, Nicole West has driven some of the company’s most innovative initiatives including Chipotle’s award-winning app and website, and the addition of digital make lines at most restaurants. By providing a dedicated make line for digital orders, Chipotle has increased order accuracy, efficiency and speed. Digital make lines have also increased the employee experience by making it easier and more enjoyable to fulfill digital orders. Her dedication to creating a seamless customer experience has helped Chipotle win in the digital space, which was a $1.4 billion business in 2019.
DEVELOPING TECHNOLOGY & PEOPLE
Susan Carroll-Boser started her career with White Castle in 1994 as a systems administrator. Now, as the vice president of technology, she’s responsible for the company’s technology strategy, leading the tech shared services, IT and information services departments.With a constant drive to find solutions, she has led the development of internal and external apps, and introduced AI into White Castle’s technology infrastructure. Developing the technologies and the people to support them are at the heart of her role at White Castle. “As a 99-year old family-owned business,” she says, “the one constant in all our progress remains taking something complex and getting it to elegant — easy to use, easy to understand and representative of our vision, to feed the souls of craver generations everywhere.”
DELIVERING ON COMPLEX INITIATIVES
From 2017-2019, Malia Alley, Senior Manager — Digital, Taco Bell, successfully led the national rollout of upgraded network infrastructure to more than 6,500 U.S. Taco Bell locations. Network upgrades have stabilized restaurant systems, provided faster bandwidth for in-restaurant applications, accelerated use of customer Wi-Fi and helped grow digital sales of off-premise mobile and delivery orders, as well as growing in-store digital sales from kiosks. Alley now leads the technology teams that will support the brand’s one-on-one customer marketing platforms and is leading the launch of loyalty.
CREATING WINS FOR OPERATORS
Richelle Anderson, OneDine’s Chief Operating Officer, has cut customer onboarding from as long as eight weeks to as short as two weeks, improving customer satisfaction and company growth. Anderson says she is most interested in how operators are using data to evaluate and respond to customer habits for the purpose of improving the guest experience. “The combination of gathering and acting on data to better serve customers while giving them more control in ordering and payment processing is the technology I am most excited about because it creates a win for operators, servers and guests,” she says.
MANAGING DISRUPTIVE TECH WITH FINESSE
As an executive program manager at Dine Brands Global, Sharon Evans manages the execution of Dine Brands’ most innovative and disruptive programs related to cloud integrations, microservices and restaurant technology transformation. Evans is driving Dine Brands to think “smarter” about program implementation. She’s a key part of ushering in Dine Brand’s next generational technology programs. And h covering point of sale, cloud integrations, and guest data activation. Her programs have stayed under-budget and on-schedule.
DEFINING DATA STRATEGIES
As Director of Enterprise Solutions at Toast, Sarah Kabakoff has established herself as an expert in digital strategies, customer data analytics, restaurant operations, and point of sale. For the past three years, she has been designing tech-driven solutions to support the restaurant enterprise and assisting customers. Kabakoff has played a significant role in closing thousands of deals. She’s helped operators solve challenges with their digital experience, helped engineer restaurant menus to provide speed, and helped to enable a cashless model.
IDENTIFYING THE RIGHT PEOPLE, PROCESSES AND TECHNOLOGIES
As Chief Customer Officer at Revel Systems, Leslie Leaf drives client and partner success. By identifying the right people, processes and technologies, Leaf has helped Revel see real benefits by reducing the company’s call volume. Prior to bringing Revel’s customer support in-house, Revel had more than 300 outsourced agents who received 8 calls per day, but only resolved 3 tickets. Fast-forward 24 months, Revel is at 77 agents who answer 20 calls and resolve 15 tickets per day. As a result, Revel has achieved 750% improvement on ticket KPIs and 150% improvement on call volume KPIs, all with 25% of the headcount.
SOLVING PROBLEMS THROUGH DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY
Krystle Mobayeni spent 12 years working as a digital designer at some of New York’s top agencies. She noticed that existing technology fell short of restaurant needs. Oftentimes, technology drove a wedge between the restaurant and the guest − and nobody was looking out for the best interest of the restaurant. She changed all of that when she launched BentoBox in 2013. With her rad skills in design and technology, she created a hub for restaurants to engage with the customers through a singular place: their website. BentoBox is used by more than 5,000 restaurants worldwide.
POWERING DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION STRATEGIES
Catherine Tabor is the Founder and CEO of Sparkfly, an offer management platform that helps restaurant marketers improve customer acquisition and loyalty programs by connecting real-time consumer behavior with online and in-store sales. She has worked with more than 65 retail and QSR brands, powering more than 10,000 locations with more than 100 million transactions. Tabor believes she’s solved how restaurants can transform their legacy POS systems and investments into an asset that powers digital and in-store marketing programs.
NEW LMS + LTO = BIG WIN
Felicia White, Senior Director of Training and Development at Church’s Chicken, led the most successful limited-time offer rollout in years, resulting in double-digit increases in sales and transactions. Church’s Chicken was able to achieve a 90% increase in training completions at the unit level, while closing a persistent knowledge gap between corporate stores and franchise locations. Church’s Chicken improved communication with team members and doubled engagement with their restaurant app. The program was so successful, Church’s Chicken is planning to launch it again.