2021 Honorees

Sushma Zoellner

Vice President of Digital Product

“Being stagnant is not in my DNA.”

Tell us about where you work and what you do there.

I’m the VP of Digital Products at H-E-B, a regional grocery retailer in Texas and Mexico. I began my time at H-E-B building the digital product team and driving the launch of an eCommerce-focused mobile application. This app helped build the foundation for an exceptional digital customer experience. As we’ve grown, that focus has extended to look at broader customer friction points across our offerings. Our challenge now is figuring out how to deliver the best digital solutions to make the lives of Texans easier.

How would you describe yourself?

Being stagnant is not in my DNA. I enjoy actively thinking and collaborating with others on how to solve problems for our business, customers, and team. If the solution doesn’t pan out, I can’t help but keep trying.

Outside the workplace, it’s not much different. Running on the trail helps me process my thoughts, and spending time with my family brings me the utmost joy. I’ve let go of the mom guilt of not being the best cook for my children, but I make up for it by being their favorite playmate.

What is your leadership style?

It’s important for me to lead by example and maintain a high sense of integrity and transparency with my team. I share my successes and my failures in the hopes others will find value in the learnings I’ve picked up along my career.

I also really enjoy developing high-potential talent. The best way I’ve found to grow these individuals is by watching them in action and then having a dialogue about alternative approaches to working with people or solving a problem. A dialogue is key because it allows me to evaluate how far they’ve developed in assessing problem-solving on their own.

What do you think has been your biggest professional success so far?

Prior to my role at H-E-B, I led product and the digital team at a healthy prepared food company and launched the company’s first eCommerce experience that was truly mobile-first. We were a small and scrappy team, we worked hard, we didn’t cut corners, we moved fast, and in the end, we delivered an amazing experience that helped drive a 35% increase in revenue. I had my second child, and then we went at it again to deliver another huge product release to make it easier for people to stick to a healthy eating plan. I had fun, learned a lot, and made great friends along the way.

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What goals do you have for 2021?

My main goal is to more tangibly articulate what digital experiences are ahead of us in 2021 and beyond by leveraging the amazing talents of our digital teams.

What do you think is the next big trend in eCommerce?

An increased focus on sustainability as consumers become even more passionate about the impact products have on our environment and on supporting companies that take initiative in this space.

Name an eCommerce brand you admire and why.

Nordstrom. The emphasis on customer care and the strong connection between their brick-and-mortar and online experiences serves their customers well.

What do you geek out over?

All types of design, physical and digital — but mostly making presentation decks look visually appealing.