Haas Honors Kroger CIO with Lifetime Achievement Prize

Kroger CIO Chris Hjelm, who helped slice customer waits at the cash register by more than half, was awarded the Fisher-Hopper Prize for Lifetime Achievement in CIO Leadership by the Haas School’s Fisher CIO Leadership Program.

Hjelm was selected from an initial pool of 25 initial nominees, which was whittled down to four finalists. The three others were Louis V. Ehrlich of Chevron, Chris Perretta of State Street Bank, and Rebecca Rhodes of Raytheon.

The award was announced Sept. 20 at a CIO banquet in Berkeley.

“I am honored to receive this award," Hjelm said in a statement released by Cincinnati-based Kroger, one of the world's largest retailers. “This is truly a testament to the entire IT and leadership team at Kroger and all we have accomplished by using information technology to enhance the customer experience.”

Hjelm played a central leadership role in the development of Kroger’s faster checkout initiative, QueVision, which employs infrared technology and predictive analytics to reduce the time customers wait in line to checkout from four minutes to less than 30 seconds, on average, today. The system puts infrared cameras above store entrances and cash registers, runs that data through software, then displays the number of registers currently open and predicts how many will need to be open in 30 minutes.

Hjelm also is responsible for managing Kroger's nationwide network of information and technology systems, including systems used in retail stores, manufacturing plants, distribution centers, and offices.

“The Fisher-Hopper Prize Committee has honored Chris Hjelm for his extraordinarily perceptive innovations that have given Kroger a significant competitive advantage while demonstrating to the entire retail industry the hidden potential of technology when wisely managed,” said Jim Spitze, executive director of the Haas School's Fisher CIO Leadership Program.

The Fisher CIO Leadership Program established the award to honor a currently active CIO for his or her lifetime achievements in CIO leadership. The award is in memory of Haas alumnus Don Fisher, BS 51, co-founder of Gap Inc. and supporter of the IT Leadership Program at Haas, and Max Hopper, the visionary behind American Airlines’ SABRE Systems that computerized and revolutionized travel reservations.