by Peter High, published on Forbes
Timothy Kasbe has been a chief information officer at three major companies, Reliance Industries, Sears, and Intrexon. For the past three and a half years, he has been the Chief Operating Officer of Gloria Jeans, a Russian retailer that is among the fastest growing retailers in the world. Kasbe credits his rise to being a business leader first and a technologist second. He also spent a decade as a consultant to the retail industry, and as such advised executives across the industry. He believes that CIOs who are oriented as he is will increasingly find opportunities to rise to the role of COO among others.
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Peter High: For those who might not be familiar with it, please provide an overview of Gloria Jeans.
Timothy Kasbe: Gloria Jeans is an apparel retailer based in Russia. We operate over seven hundred stores in eleven time zones of Russia and the Ukraine. Until the recent geopolitical turmoil that is unfolding in our backyard, we had enjoyed solid growth. We are among the fastest growing apparel retailer in the world with 56.4 percent CAGR for the preceding five years. To sustain this growth, we have our own production and we import garments from around the world. We market to all ages and sexes across the fashion spectrum. In Russia, especially, we are number one in the kids and ladies jean segment. It is an exciting company with constant change of the fashion trends and tastes of our customers.
In my role, I have responsibility of technology, supply chain, company strategy, and global expansion of our business. In a role like this, there are no strict boundary lines, as such. At times, I have led HR and recruiting and, last spring, some of our ad campaign. I had a major role to play in that, including writing some lyrics to songs, for instance. It is a matter of taking care of business, no matter what a given trading day throws at you. That is how I would explain my role.
High: That sounds exciting and far-reaching. Can you talk a bit about your strategic priorities for the foreseeable future? What is on your roadmap?
Kasbe: Winston Churchill once said “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Our strategic priority right now is to make sure that this crisis that we are going through is not wasted. We are taking care of all the internal operations and fine-tuning business practices based on some deep learnings which we are gaining, both through the slowdown as well as through some technology that we have been able to afford to get those insights. The constant refining of our business operations is a key priority while we are enjoying such a crisis.
The other part is hedging the risks of where we operate. Our definite priority is to expand in other countries. We have stores opening in Georgia and other places in a couple weeks. A lot of our competition is vanishing, but we keep sharp focus on both our operations and our profit engineering. That is a strategic priority for us. At the same time, we make fashion affordable to all segments of Russia. We look to the next three or five years, when the boom returns to the country, to be ready with the capability and the capacity we need for the product, talent, supply chain, etc. Those are our priorities right now.