As Vice President and Head of Strategy & Business Development at Williams-Sonoma, Inc., Anddria Clack-Rogers Varnado is a catalyst for developing innovative opportunities to enhance the quality of lives, starting at home. In this role, Anddria oversees M&A, new business development, competitor research and industry insights, and cross-brand initiatives across Williams-Sonoma's iconic portfolio of brands. Since joining WSI, Anddria has led the company’s acquisition of Outward, Inc., an innovative 3-D imaging company at the intersection of retail and technology, and launched WSI’s newest brand Robin, a branded collection of products focused on sleep and wellness.
Anddria leverages several years of previous expertise across management consulting, investment banking and product strategy to bring the full power of Williams-Sonoma’s products and services to customers in a unique and meaningful way. Her career accomplishments include driving breakthrough global customer insights for a leading online marketplace, leading integrated business planning for new service lines, and launching an online lifestyle and retail company. Anddria received a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Clark Atlanta University, and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the wake of International Women's Day, enjoy the following insights that the phenomenal woman, Anndria, shared with me to share with all of you:
Into the Details
In addition to your professional title (Vice President - Head of Strategy & Business Development at Williams-Sonoma), what personal title would you give yourself?
Dancing Queen, no doubt about it. I love to dance for fitness, for fun, and for all birthday parties.
If you had to list one responsibility that comes with being an executive that junior resources might not anticipate or understand the true weight of, what would it be?
One of the most fulfilling and weighty tasks of career advancement is mentoring and developing junior talent. In addition to the junior team members that executives have formal responsibility for in our roles - ensuring that they gain the industry experience and functional expertise necessary to develop and advance in their own careers – there are several others that may request mentorship and guidance outside of the scope of our roles or companies. Good mentors want to invest the time and energy – with limited quantities of both – so it is important that mentees bring as much to the relationship as possible so that it is mutually fulfilling.
What trends are currently defining your industry? As a strategist, how are you able to stay 1-2 steps ahead of current trends?
It is no secret that the retail industry is evolving, faster than ever. As with most consumer-facing companies, digital engagement is shifting how customers engage, evaluate, review and find our products. Additionally, the role that brands play in the shopping experience is different than it has been in the past and is influencing the interaction between customers and retailers.
I love my role because I get to spend time in the past, present, and future of it all – I have to understand what has made us successful in the past, what our customers are facing outside of our own brands that may influence their interaction with us, and where they are going so that we can build the capability to meet them there when they need us.
"I love my role because I get to spend time in the past, present, and future of it all."
How are you best able to lift as you climb?
I try to find opportunities to give into my communities in focused and deliberate settings to balance time and impact. Currently, I choose to “lift” others through dedicated and structured community efforts such as my mentorship work with Management Leadership for Tomorrow, volunteer efforts with Junior League, non-profit consulting with HBS Community Partners, and participation in relevant and meaningful discussions at industry events for students and professionals.
If you had to list one go-to garb item in your work wardrobe, what would it be?
My current “go-to” is an Ann Taylor sleeveless peplum blouse. For me, this blouse provides the perfect amount of professional structure with a stylish edge. I love it because it can be paired casually with jeans and a blazer for my rare “no meeting” or store visit days, or a pencil skirt and bold jewelry for events. It is a great foundation piece. The best thing I have learned when it comes to my work wardrobe is to know which styles work for me, and more importantly, which ones don’t.
For more information on Anndria's current role and past experiences, check out her LinkedIn page!