Council Member Spotlight: Shirley Gao

Council Member Spotlight: Shirley Gao

We're spotlighting Shirley Gao, CIO of PacSun & Eddie Bauer Group. Hear from Shirly on her journey to CIO, challenges, how she sees innovation and what's on her radar for new technologies.

Innovation Advisory Council Spotlight
 Min read
August 19, 2021

We love to spotlight our Council Members and share brief insights into the person behind the role. As our Innovation Advisory Council spans twenty-three cities across three continents, we have an incredible and diverse group of Council members leading companies of all sizes and industries. In this spotlight, we caught up with Shirley Gao, CIO at PacSun & Eddie Bauer group.

Can you give us an abridged story of the journey through your career and how you got to your current role?

I started my career as a developer. During a large project of transforming an IBM Mainframe retail merchandise system to a client-server system, I completed my tasks faster than my peers and got the opportunity to become a team leader. I advanced my career from a technical lead to a Chief Information Officer by utilizing information technology to improve processes and support business initiatives. I have always been interested in learning business processes and looking for long-term optimization solutions.

Innovation means many different things to many different people; what does it mean for you?

Innovation means thinking out of the box; Finding a revolutionary idea that can significantly change the game in a tangible and viable way.

How do you see the rapid evolution of technology impacting your industry in five years?

The apparel retail business will become more virtual through technological innovations that may allow new experiences such as virtual fittings. Apparel retail will also expand to encompass more channels through social media. Same-day delivery from local stores will make shopping online just as convenient as shopping in-stores.

I look forward to having the shopping experience depicted in the sci-fiction movie Minority Report (2002).

What’s on your radar for new trends and technologies that you think will accelerate innovation for you and your company?

AI-powered analytics will help business decision-makers understand their customers better and personalize their products and marketing strategies toward more granulate customer segmentations.

What’s been one of the most significant challenges you’ve faced over the course of your career?

One of the most significant challenges I have faced was transforming people and processes along with technology. We tend to underestimate the importance of Change Management. People and processes are key factors that drive the successful adoption and usage of technology.

What kind of leader would you describe yourself as?

I always want to build an inclusive team with diversity. I try my best to recruit, develop and retain the best talent, have a culture of inclusion where all team members feel respected, encouraged, and given the opportunities to grow.

What’s your favorite non-professional activity that you love to do?  

I love classical music and spend a lot of time accompanying my children throughout their musical education. I also enjoy cooking and love to make dinner for my family.

Interested in joining our Council filled with amazing innovators like Shirley? Find out more here

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