A Series of Firsthand Views from Industry Leaders on the Retail Landscape, Careers, Personal Insights and the Future of Retail.
How did you get into this business?
I was born in Soviet Russia, where “retail” meant that when you see a line, you try to cut in and wait to grab whatever you can regardless of what it is. When I crossed the border into Hungary and saw my first food store, I was in awe. At that moment I fell in love with retail and most importantly with the impact it has on people’s li
Who has been your greatest influence/mentor?
My grandfather, a Russian space scientist, taught me that we could put a man in space using the computing power of a T-84 calculator. When people ask me how expensive the Hointer solution is, I always think of high school calculators.
What is your greatest source of inspiration, or where do you get your best ideas?
Making love to my husband is my source of inspiration. I always dream about making shopping as exciting and passionate as sex.
What retail operation do you think is innovative and sustainable?
Convenience through technology. The reason tech has been used in so many ways in the online world is because we can easily learn about individual customers and change the way they interact with products. While harder to understand customers and their product interactions in the physical world, the retail experience is much richer—so we have greater opportunity over time to change the overall game. Innovation, though, is about constant change. It doesn’t sit still. So anything I call out as innovative is only sustainable if it soon becomes something different.
What is your favorite place to shop?
Macy’s Herald Square on Thanksgiving put a spell over me since I was a student, and I love their ongoing makeover. Given the amazing history of that store and yet its ability to constantly reinvent itself, I always feel hope for the future of physical retail when I shop there.
Over the last five years, what has been the biggest change in the industry?
The maturity of ecommerce and early attempts by retailers to fuse physical and digital shopping.
What do you think will change the most in the next five years?
The in-store experience and fusion of digital and physical. This is our biggest opportunity, both in customer experience and supply chain.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I walked out of the Soviet Union and lived on the streets of Hungary before I could find my way to America. Also, I love to read and write computer programs. I used to read through millions of lines of code at Amazon, and I write a lot of code at Hointer.
What books are you reading?
I’m reading about SpaceX and Tesla, by Ashlee Vance. I think when we create a Tesla-like fitting room at Macy’s, men will line up.
What’s your favorite leisure activity?
I don’t have one. I love to work and I’m okay doing it all the time. When my daughter wants to spend time with me, she comes to Hointer.
What lessons have you learned from elsewhere in your life that you can apply to retail?
I did my Ph.D. in mathematics and I learned how to apply many different ideas and use data to confirm which solution works best. We do the same at Hointer. Most things we try do not work, but the several things that work really well for us and for Macy’s have increased sales. So we double down on those ideas.
What’s your favorite quote (and who said it)?
Jeff Bezos likes to say, “Step by step, ferociously”—and it sits well with me.
What’s your favorite online site?
NASA’s website https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ It covers space missions. I keep thinking, if we can put a man on Mars, we can reinvent how people shop and make it magical.