Walmart’s Fumbi Chima and Diageo’s Leanne Wood both join Burberry as Chief Information Officer and Chief People and Corporate Affairs Officer respectively. Chima is currently Corporate Vice-President and Chief Information Officer at Walmart Asia, will join Burberry in November and report into Chief Operating Officer John Smith. She will be responsible for their technology division and oversee their technology platform upgrades, including SAP. Her digital expertise will definitely benefit Burberry, who are fashioning themselves as a digital pioneer – they engage with consumers on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. Its online digital flagship, burberry.com, delivers to over 40 countries.
Leanne Wood is also joining Burberry in November as the newly created Chief People and Corporate Affairs Officer and will report directly into Chief Executive Christopher Bailey. She has a global remit, having worked in a number of markets, including Southeast Asia, great Britain, Ireland and Africa. Both appointments are smart moves, as they bring an interesting global dimension to their roles. Fumbi is of particular note, with her evolvement as a member of the UN Digital taskforce, and her position on the board of the World Affairs Council; she is a great role model for leadership.
Change is happening very slowly. The most hated departments are traditionally technology and HR; companies are finally “rebranding” these functions to battle the antipathy towards two departments which are designed to help and support employees and grow the business. Companies need to take these functions more seriously and make them true strategic partners on the board. HR needs to change its strategy. Simple efforts, like changing the label to Chief People and Corporate Affairs Officer, helps drop negative connotations and attract new attention. The future is also digital and finally companies are becoming more digitally literate. The FTSE 100 has only four “highly digital” boards, defined as those with two or more directors with serious digital experience: Burberry, EasyJet, Sky and ARM. Starbucks appointed a Chief Technology Officer this week to align their technology with standard practice as FMCG businesses are evolving to match society’s needs. The boards of Britain’s smaller companies are even less digitally savvy.