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BDI's Chugh: IT's a juggling act

BDI's Chugh: IT's a juggling act


Name: Kathleen L. Chugh

Title: vice president, information technology, Bravo Development Inc. (BDI), Columbus, Ohio

Birth date: May 1967

Place of birth/current residence: Buffalo, N.Y./Westerville, Ohio

Education: bachelor of science, business and graphic design (dual degree), State University of New York-College at Buffalo, Buffalo, N.Y.

Career highlights: joined BDI in November 2007 after seven years as senior director of information technology, or IT, at Wendy's International Inc.; previously was a technical delivery team manager with 42 direct reports for Electronic Data Systems, or EDS, where she was hired as a programmer

Manages: eight people

Reports to: Jim O'Connor, chief financial officer

Family: husband Timothy; sons Alexander, 13, Jason, 11, and Nicholas, 8

Hobbies/activities: exploring U.S. National Park system; traveling; attending sons' sporting events; scrapbooking

POS system: Micros Systems Inc.

Primary unit-level, back-office applications: client/server application of Micros Product Management; Finance Management and Labor Management

Enterprise accounting and human resources management tools: Lawson Finance and HR

As someone who has worked full-time while raising three young, active sons, Kathleen Chugh has had as much practice juggling priorities at home as in the workplace. That extra experience, she indicates, is serving her well as vice president of IT at Bravo Development Inc. (BDI) of Columbus, Ohio, where she has more hands-on involvement in some aspects of her job than she did in her last position at giant Wendy's International Inc.

Chugh and her staff of eight serve the myriad IT needs of Bravo's more than 75 full-service-Italian restaurants operating under such names as Bravo! Cucina Italiana, Brio Tuscan Grille and Bon Vie Bistro. Her current company rang up 2007 sales of $265.4 million, compared to results at Wendy's, operator and franchisor of the namesake quick-service sandwich chain that last year reported U.S. systemwide sales of $7.9 billion from 5,936 restaurants, including 1,274 company-owned locations.

She readily concedes that balancing BDI's long list of IT requirements against the limited resources and time available to fulfill her objectives constitutes her greatest challenge in working for the company, where she signed on a year ago after long tenure with Wendy's. However, Chugh knows that the responsibility for solving that puzzle comes with her title at BDI, explaining, "The challenge of big technology needs and limited resources makes prioritization a critical aspect of my job."

What are some of your recent and current IT projects?

We deployed Lawson ERP in the beginning of 2008 and introduced Muzak in our restaurants. We are now implementing Granite Technologies solutions for communication consolidation. We have also been focusing on achieving PCI compliance [for payment card data security] as a Level 2 organization and automating our bank reconciliation.

Name some upcoming projects.

Our upcoming projects include enhancements to our back-office application, [with the addition of] custom screens or reports. Also on the list are network infrastructure upgrades, intranet modifications and a redesign of our website.

How have you mentally transitioned from an important supporting role at a very large company to the top spot at a relatively small organization — albeit one that has enough "moving pieces" to keep things very interesting?

BDI is a growing company, and there is a lot to do with IT to support the growth. I feel I can leverage my experiences in working at a very large company within the foodservice industry, to [getting the job done] here. I have developed a roadmap for us to follow. In a large company, I had people to whom to delegate [tasks], but in a smaller company you wear more hats and just need to do things yourself sometimes. That keeps me on my toes and keeps things interesting.

Does your department have much hands-on responsibility for web-based or mobile marketing initiatives?

Yes. For example, we are currently working closely with the marketing department on the redesign of our external website. This has been a collaborative project between the IT team and the marketing team.

Does your company outsource any IT functions?

We outsource our store support help desk functions for Level 1 and 2 support.

Have you acted in recent months to reduce IT center or in-restaurant IT power usage or reduce the use of IT consumables?

We are continuing to investigate server utilization and, as such, are looking into implementing technology from VMware [a provider of server virtualization software] for next year. We have also already switched to electronic billing for some of our larger vendors, thus eliminating the printing of paper bills.

What is it about IT that grabs you?

There's a lot of diversity. IT can function both behind the scenes — as with corporate applications — and as part of everyday operations. I enjoy supporting technology in the restaurants because I can help someone else who has a tough job do that job in a very efficient way. I also enjoy change, and working in IT in the restaurant industry allows for support of an ever-changing environment. Menu changes, which happen three to four times a year, are an example of this. And I definitely get instant feedback from the users [restaurants].

TAGS: Technology
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