Lowe’s, Giant Eagle Executives Come Together to Talk Analytics Workforce Challenges

Last week, Seemantini Godbole of Lowe's; Jo O'Hazo of Giant Eagle; and more, took the stage at Analytics Unite to explore how to recruit talent and cultivate the analytic skills companies require from their tech teams.
Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
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From left to right: Nandha Kumar, CIO Americas, Danone; Mohit Das, Former Vice President, Commercial Analytics, Kellogg; Seemantini Godbole, EVP, Chief Information Officer, Lowe's; Jo O'Hazo, Chief Data & Analytics Officer, Giant Eagle.

Possibilities, superpower, focus-creation.

These are the words given when Nandha Kumar, CIO Americas, Danone, asked a panel of experts “what’s one word comes to mind when you hear analytics and talent.”

Seemantini Godbole, EVP, Chief Information Officer, Lowe's; Mohit Das, Former Vice President, Commercial Analytics, Kellogg; and Jo O'Hazo, Chief Data & Analytics Officer, Giant Eagle, joined Kumar on stage at Analytics Unite: The Summit for Retail and Consumer Brands in Chicago last week.

Finding, training, and retaining employees has become a major obstacle and is having a devastating impact on the consumer experience. Workforce troubles are not limited to the frontline; building a skilled and loyal headquarters staff is an ongoing challenge across the industry. During the panel session “Recruit, Retain, Renew: Building a Connected Workforce” the panel of retail and consumer goods experts explored the next-gen analytic skills companies require from their tech teams, and how to recruit and cultivate these unique skills.


Das kicked off by noting that diversity is key. Building diversity and letting people learn from each other is important. Godbole noted there’s a tremendous appetite to use data and make changes. “Frankly, this is the most exciting time we have ever had — whether you talk about talent, talk about technology, talk about opportunity — and that’s why when I use the word ‘superpower’ I mean it,” she said.

To be highly successful is to be relevant, O’Hazo then said. “In this world of so much data and so much discussion, being able to weave through the many different products, solutions, and volumes of information out there, is all about relevance.”

Kumar then turned the conversation to attracting talent, to which Godbole replied, “did we ever sit in a conference and say, ‘it’s really easy to attract talent.’ We have never said that. It’s becoming more difficult every day.”

She suggested that every morning when you wake up "you should tell yourself only one thing, 'today is the easiest day to attract talent,' because tomorrow it’s going to become more difficult."

Godbole also noted it wasn’t really a Great Resignation, but more of a “great switching.” As talent challenges only get harder, look internally and ask “how can I simplify?” She also noted that “People work for people,” not buildings or companies. They are not talent drivers. Bringing in one good person will bring in more good people.


O’Hazo pointed out that we don’t all work for Google. It’s about being honest. Have a compelling strategy, what are the opportunities? Underselling or overselling your company isn’t helping.

“Is there clarity on what you’re trying to accomplish?” she asked. Also, a great leader attracts success, she advised.

Das agreed these were great points, and observed what has changed is organizations are doubling, tripling —  data science is a hot field. “It’s a big shift in just the numbers.” He pointed out that we all have leaders who can walk into the c-suite and can influence them and drive change. People want to work for those leaders. “Hire the right leaders who will talk to two or three people and drive the change.”

Kumar then asked, “what are some other skills the analytics community needs to own?”

O’Hazo noted right sizing the team is important. Das said if you just hire for a job, you’ll get someone for two years. You need to offer a career map. To nurture talent, you need a flexible process that drives career mapping.

“It shouldn’t be a one-size fits all,” Das said. Flexible career mapping within the company gives you a better chance to nurture and retain talent.

Godbole added you should ask yourself what skill sets your company needs in the next few months. Can you put a team together that have all the skills you need? One of the biggest talent attraction strategies is that everyone wants to see their products being used, see themselves being successful. As much structure and support as you can offer will help.

Everyone wants to be on the winning team, agreed Kumar.