As part of FN’s annual Women in Power issue, these executives were singled out in the retail technology sphere for their work to support, elevate and promote women to top roles. They shared some of their experiences, from over the last year and more broadly, in rallying their companies to do more.
Sarah Engel, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief People Officer at January Digital
For over two decades, Sarah Engel has provided strategic marketing, HR and business leadership to major global consumer and B2B brands, including Chevrolet, Match.com and Lilly Pulitzer. After joining January Digital’s women-majority executive team in October 2020, Engel has helped to introduce a comprehensive salary review process for equitable pay. She also is an active contributor to the company’s community outreach program Good Works, as well as a volunteer in support of women who have survived domestic abuse.
Helping women rise to top roles: “I am focusing on elevating my support of women in business, from the point of idea sharing to active sponsorship and advocacy. To me, this takes the form of recommending great women for open board seats and next-level roles. It means offering up leading experts who are women to speak at conferences and interview with editors. It means going a step further than offering advice, by making connections, elevating others’ ideas and expertise, and creating a link between phenomenal women.”
Jane Cannon, Chief Product Officer at NewStore
Having held several senior positions at Oracle and Micros Retail prior to joining NewStore, Jane Cannon is a seasoned product leader. She currently oversees product management for the NewStore omnichannel platform, where she works with a team that is 50% female. The company operates a “Women at NewStore” group, which is used to both support women employees, while also raising awareness of gender-related challenges among the staff as a whole.
The work revolution: “Change can happen very quickly. It’s an obvious concept, but we all had to learn the hard way through the last year. Going forward, I will take more of a balanced approach when it is critical for teams to be together and when they can effectively work remotely. A major area we are looking at is in-person meetings with customers. We can’t wait to meet together for store launches and various projects, but we have also learned that much of what we do can be effective and efficient remotely.”
Sharon Silverstein, Head of U.S. Verticals at Snap Inc.
Sharon Silverstein is the head of U.S. verticals at Snap Inc., where she oversees the restaurant, retail and travel and energy business. Before joining Snap, Silverstein started her career at Viacom Media Networks and rose to the position of SVP of ad sales. During her time at Snap, the company has made solid progress in its mission to increase the number of women in tech leadership, doubling the numbers from 6.7% to 13.7%.
Big goals: “Our board contains eight independent directors, four of whom are now women. However, we still have a long way to go as a company. This year, we committed to new, more ambitious hiring and representation goals, which we will hold ourselves accountable to reach by the end of 2025, including increasing underrepresented U.S. racial and ethnic groups to 20% and increasing women in tech roles to 25%.”
Kristin Savilia, CEO at Joor
As the CEO of digital wholesale platform Joor, Kristin Savilia helms an industry-leading company that facilitates $50 billion in wholesale transactions. Diversity and inclusion is at the forefront of management, with Savilia’s product and engineering team comprising 30% women (double the industry standard). She has helped to instigate a gender-inclusive hiring system that requires at least 2 women on the docket for every open position.
Shaping the future: “The retail industry hasn’t made the progress it needs to in advancing women’s careers and placing them in positions of leadership. As a female CEO in technology, I’m well aware that future leaders will come up through the ranks in our organizations. We’re real about calling one another out if someone observes an instance of unconscious bias. I’m proud that we’ve maintained this set of norms even after a year of working remotely.”
Michelle Grant, Senior Manager, Strategy & Insights for Retail & Consumer Goods at Salesforce
Michelle Grant is a seasoned researcher who helps global organizations build the future of their business, both in her role at Salesforce and as a speaker at industry events like Shoptalk and World Retail Congress. After 15 years at Euromonitor, Grant joined Salesforce in March 2020, where she creates data-driven content that helps companies understand how new technologies will impact the future of their business.
The power of networking: “I am a member of Salesforce’s Women’s Network equality group, so I participate in a range of discussions around women’s issues. Salesforce is a proud sponsor of the Network of Women (NEW) and I work with my colleagues to ensure we leverage all of the wonderful opportunities for personal and professional development at NEW. On a personal level, I aim to be the biggest cheerleader for my female colleagues. I also share my life and career experiences to help others on their journey.”
Sofia Hernandez, Head of U.S. Business Marketing at TikTok
As the head of U.S. business marketing for TikTok, Sofia Hernandez builds innovative marketing solutions that help brands become TikTok-fluent and connect with the vast audience base that uses the social platform. Prior to TikTok, Hernandez was the chief client officer at consumer insights platform Suzy. She is part of the 1% of Latina executives in tech and plays an active role in fostering inclusion in the industry.
Every voice counts: “Growing up in a family of activists, we were raised to reach our hands out and help others. Women have such a powerful opportunity to not only support each other, but to celebrate each other — and do so without holding back. This act of support and empowerment is what I foster with my team and colleagues. No matter your role, title or tenure, your voice matters. Whether it be shouting out a specific colleague in a public forum, or taking the time to send a note to their leader celebrating an accomplishment, we should always lift each other up.”