“If you give me a mesh of tangled wires, I will spend time untangling it.” That’s how Kavita Deo responds when asked what she likes about information technology (IT) transformation and digital technology.
But Deo is much more than a precise technician skilled at making order out of chaos. She’s a respected leader with more than two decades of experience leading tech initiatives and driving business growth in healthcare, consumer packaged goods, and retail.
Now at Foot Locker Inc. as senior director of digital technology, Deo works to harness the power of existing and emerging solutions to remove friction points and create a smooth customer experience through multiple channels. These include business-to-consumer, business-to-business, mobile apps, in-store, and social media.
Before joining the iconic sportswear and footwear retailer in 2021, Deo led IT strategy development and plan execution for top companies and billion-dollar brands as a consultant at Mindtree and Infosys. The native of India studied math and science and started a career in management information systems in her home country.
Along the way, she saw the potential of technology. “IT is a great fit for someone like me, because I can work with a team, build solutions, and mix in my creativity and problem-solving abilities to address real business needs,” she explains.
That’s what Deo has done while modernizing networks, automating processes, developing frameworks, driving cloud migrations, and building high-performing teams. Leading these types of initiatives well remains especially important in the volatile world of retail’s low margins and high costs.
The first to join Foot Locker’s digital tech team not so long ago, Deo now leads a robust function of forty-five professionals. The activity demonstrates the importance of a successful digital transformation to the company. There’s change happening in every corner of the organization, and Deo isn’t content to simply translate business requirements to the tech function. She wants to help her colleagues “unlearn old ways of working” and be part of shifting Foot Locker’s culture to meet the moment and enable new solutions.
Success will come as Deo not only helps others embrace change and uncertainty, but also racks up wins and demonstrates effectiveness. Diversity helps. She believes in inclusive teams that value collaboration and learning.
Deo says she’s been fortunate to have strong support from family members, leaders, and mentors as she’s built her own career. She encourages anyone following in her footsteps to do the same. But even with support, there’s no substitute for hard work.
“Succeeding as a woman of color in tech is certainly possible, but it takes perseverance,” she says. “Step into uncharted territory. Push yourself. Realize your value. And don’t compare yourself to others.”