Technology is one of the most important and rapidly changing industries globally. However, even with growth initiatives, it remains heavily male-dominated. To celebrate 2022 Women's History Month (and beyond), Originate has decided to showcase a few of these amazing women — trailblazers — who have taken the tech world by storm and are setting incredible examples for others to follow.
Our inaugural spotlight for 2022 Women's History Month goes to Jo Graham, CIO of UK fashion retailer Boohoo.
Since Graham joined in 2019, Boohoo Group has outpaced rivals with multi-brand acquisitions, technology-forward architectures and innovations, advanced supply chain solutions, intentional focus on the customer experience, and a steady finger on the pulse of trends.
From rapid fashion drops to a focus on sustainable fashion, Boohoo is today viewed as a high-demand innovator in the retail world. A large part of Boohoo's success can be attributed to their investments and dedication to automation, innovation, and streamlining to increase operational efficiencies. Coupled with their agile supply chain, Boohoo can adapt quickly to changes in consumer preferences and adjust its product offering accordingly — enabling them to come out on top every time.
Boohoo has established a new standard for retailers by putting the customer at the center of the equation. Traditional retailers have relied too long on legacy tech stacks and processes that can no longer compete with the cross-channel data and customer experience of companies like Boohoo. To stay relevant and embrace ever-evolving markets, traditional retailers must wake up and follow in the steps of digital natives like Boohoo.
Who is Jo Graham?
Jo Graham's early career started in financial services, where she spent seventeen years across HBOS and Lloyds Banking Group, growing their IT roles. When asked about what attracted her to a technology role, Graham replied, "What attracted me at the time was the ability to problem solve and design – one of my first projects was working out the flow and security process of the customer journey and anticipating how it might evolve or be hacked."
Before joining Boohoo, Graham was the IT director at Capita, IT Director at Bupa, and the Director of Technology at Morrison. Graham said that she was attracted to Boohoo because it was at the forefront of using tech to connect to millions of customers in a way that had not been seen before.
Since joining in 2019, Graham has been a significant contributor to Boohoo Group's continued expansion. After launching in 2006, Boohoo has reported over 53 million orders to more than 18 million customers. Last year, the UK-based company announced that revenue had risen 32% to $676 million. Arriving just two years ago, Graham has introduced ten new brands to Boohoo Group. She now has IT oversight for 13 brands, 12 of which rest on Boohoo's tech platform. Graham's success has been fast-paced and innovatively focused - and it appears that she's just getting started.
In February 2022, Graham and her team secured a groundbreaking partnership, making Boohoo one of the first-ever retail brands to create an advertisement seen throughout the Metaverse. By teaming up with one of fashion week's most iconic figures, Paris Hilton, Boohoo advertised across Hilton's virtual island on Roblox titled "Paris World." The Fashion Week event was open to the public on February 18 and filmed viewing the subsequent day. Boohoo also worked with IPG's MilkMoney to secure billboard inventory in the Metaverse. When first discussing the advertisement with Boohoo and the MilkMoney team, Hilton said, "It is awesome to be launching my first billboard campaign with Boohoo, a brand I've always loved."
The Metaverse is an evolving environment that may eventually become a part of our everyday lives. While full implementation of Metaverse technology still has a ways to go, it is expected to become a place where you can eventually work, play, learn, create, shop, and interact with friends in a virtual online environment. Graham's Boohoo collaboration on this innovative project has not only changed how we see advertising within video games like Roblox but has opened our eyes to the possibilities of what tech can bring to the retail industry. Although the platform is still in development, Boohoo's unprecedented entrance into the Metaverse has raised the bar for retail brands and the consumer shopping experience. Graham's decision to collaborate with Paris Hilton as the first retail brand to advertise during virtual fashion week has catapulted new-age fashion into — truly — another dimension.
Why It Matters
Highlighting women in tech is essential because it provides role models for women of all ages and can help spur innovation and progress within these industries. Graham makes a concerted effort to highlight the achievements of women all around her. "I speak at schools regularly, and there have been occasions where none of the girls come and speak to me, but all of the boys want to chat to me about coding and gaming. It is important not always to cite the senior trailblazers but recognize that at all levels, women are often juggling their career with their family and running a home – not because I don't believe men don't do the same, but women are wired to think it is all on us and beat ourselves up if we don't do it all perfectly."
Jo Graham has pioneered innovation throughout her career. Her visionary mind has transformed Boohoo by streamlining, automating, and innovating its supply chain. She is also a first-mover, bringing retail into the Metaverse and capitalizing on its possibilities. Graham's push for technology in retail and her work at Boohoo shines a light on how online retailers can achieve ingenuity and the art of the possible. She stands as a role model, to women and young girls everywhere, of the possibilities awaiting them in tech.