This week, our guest is Elisabeth Bradley, SVP Business Development for our Retail & CPG team in North America. Elisabeth lives the good life on the US East Coast and makes the best use of our New York office and her remote office in Connecticut to tend to our clients as well as her plants and gardens.
Elisabeth, what has brought you into the Retail & CPG and technology services field?
I’ve always been a brand girl – and I’m a good shopper, which makes it easy to love working with retailers & CPG brands to transform their businesses. Working in technology services, in particular, means that I get to work with a broad variety of great brands and retailers whose products I use in everyday life. It certainly makes market research easier! I also love the problem-solving and strategic thinking that comes as part of the work we do – it satisfies my natural curiosity. It’s greatly satisfying to be part of the growth and success of our clients and the people that deliver great work.
What has been the biggest innovation since you have been working in the industry?
Naturally, the explosion of e-commerce stands out, but that’s really a broad set of technologies and experiences. The use of Augmented Reality (AR) technology to help consumers envision products on them or in their home has really elevated the game lately and has come the closest to removing the physical/digital barrier. I recently used AR to pick out new lighting fixtures, and suddenly it was easy to see when fixtures that I thought were the right size were in fact way too big! It saved both myself and Wayfair from having to deal with the return because I can’t envision how big a 36-inch chandelier actually is.
And what is the biggest challenge or opportunity you are seeing and what should businesses be doing to prepare for this?
Advances in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and data management have made personalisation a key part of many retailers’ strategies. The combination presents a great opportunity, but businesses will have to maintain the line between being smart marketers and creepy stalkers.
The value is proven in marketing and conversion – I buy stuff that’s served up to me on Instagram regularly. But it does make me pause when something I talked about – but haven’t searched for yet – shows up. Having a comprehensive data strategy and establishing values – i.e. how creepy are you willing to be? – will ensure that the business is able to take advantage of the capability without compromising the relationship with their customers. Establishing and maintaining trust is key.
What is the Endava project you are most proud of and why?
Being new to the organisation, I don’t have a project of my own that I can personally be proud of. That being said, what impressed me, and why I decided to join Endava, was the breadth and depth of projects our teams have delivered.
For example, a product that Endava built with a global CPG brand is a great success story. Not only did we solve a number of key business challenges for them internally, but it also enabled them to build a separate revenue stream for maximum, sustainable return on investment (ROI). It demonstrates our ability to work with a broad variety of stakeholders (HR, IT, Operations, etc.) and demonstrate value across the organisation with one of the most visible CPG manufacturers in the world.
On the flip side, what is the project or technology that challenged you the most and where you had some setbacks? What did you learn from this?
Technology is almost always challenging in some way – spinning wheel of death, anyone? That’s what keeps it interesting. Clients turn to us because of the challenges and opportunities that technology presents. We learn through our work alongside our clients, and there are times that assumptions or dependencies need revisiting. These conversations with our clients require honest and frequent communication and enable deeper, more trusting relationships.
Each setback or challenge along the way has enabled me to better manage our client’s goals and expectations throughout the course of our (hopefully long) relationship. It may seem painful in the moment, but on the other side, it offers opportunity for reflection and learnings to avoid the same in the future.
Now, we’d like to ask a few more personal questions to get to know you even better. If you would not be working in Business Development at Endava, what would you be doing instead?
I’ve worked in a few different roles over the years – from hospitality to HR to higher education to retail to business development. But the dream is to have a successful enough career to be a full-time foster family for a dog rescue with a part-time gig as a food critic. A girl can dream, right?
If you could go back in time and visit any historic period, where – or rather when – would you go?
As a history major, this is a really difficult question – there are just too many times and places to pick just one!
What topic could you give a 20-minute presentation on without any preparation?
‘Houseplants and their care’ or ‘the farm-to-table movement and its adoption by the mainstream’. I’m passionate about plants and food and have my mother and grandmother to thank for both.
And what was something you thought would be easy until you tried it?
Cake decorating. Making frosting the right consistency to get a smooth layer on the surface but solid enough to make nice flowers.
Would you be brave enough to share one of your guilty pleasures with us?
Stupidly expensive cheese – imported and domestic. But also, sometimes, processed American cheese – Land O’Lakes only though!
And finally, would you share a favourite quote with us to send our readers off with some inspiration?
In the way of life, you will come to a great chasm. Jump. It’s never as far as you think.
A big thank you to Elisabeth for joining the fun and answering our questions. Stay tuned for more insights into the work and life of Endavans in the next part of our Meet the SME series!