RECAP: TechBrew:AM w/ Levon Hooks

At TechBrew:AM on September 15th, 2023, we were joined by featured guest Levon Hooks, Chief Information Officer at Kum & Go and TAI Board Member, for a conversation about his career journey in technology and Kum & Go’s recent acquisition by Maverik and FJ Transportation.

In our conversation with Levon on his 20-year career journey, he recounted how his love for technology began at a young age. He enjoys that technology is ever-evolving, continues to challenge him, and excites him to go to work every morning.

Levon’s career commenced as a consultant for the organization now known as Accenture, where he leveraged his expertise in both business and technology. Hooks continued on this path and progressed his career to become a chief information officer, overseeing a global team of over 120 technologists at Kum & Go and Krause Group.

Fun Fact: A Chicago native, Levon settled in Iowa due to his affinity for Des Moines after running track in the Drake Relays.

Key takeaways from our conversation with Levon –

1.   Technology Investment Throughout Acquisition & Change

Kum & Go was recently acquired by Utah-based convenience store Maverik. With 400 stores each, this acquisition expands their combined footprint to 800 stores and 24 states.

Only two weeks into the transition, many unknowns exist about the acquisition. One thing is for sure: investment in technology will continue. Supporting this expanding organization will require the combined expertise of both great technology teams.

Maverik is committed to continuing its presence in Des Moines for the long term, and it will be relocating Kum & Go employees to a new building in Des Moines.

2.   Best-In-Class Retail Through Innovation

Technology and innovation are engrained in the DNA of Kum & Go. Levon spoke on how Kum & Go invests more in innovation than any other organization he has seen. 

The firm is committed to innovation and forward-thinking, such as its recent data transformation to become a data-driven company.

Looking to the future, Levon is excited about artificial intelligence and how it can be used in the organization to drive store outcomes through data.

3.   Focus on the Customer

The technology team at Kum & Go emphasizes the customer – internally in the store associates and externally in the convenience store customers.

Levon has a unique connection to convenience stores: his parents owned two convenience stores in Chicago that he worked in throughout high school. He understands the experiences of each one of Kum & Go’s 5,000 associates. Hooks leverages this understanding to increase associates’ efficiency and implement innovative technologies such as automated floor scrubbers.

Through its recently revamped Kum & Go mobile app and &Rewards program, Kum & Go can connect with external customers. Levon and his team continue looking for innovative ways to reach external customers, such as their new Mobile Fuel Pay in-app feature, to attract and retain customers. The technology team uses predictive analytics to understand customer behavior through data and improve customer experience and accessibility.

4.  Be a Well-Rounded Technologist

Levon said he is not the “technology expert” in any room. He leverages his combined expertise in business and technology to make strategic decisions. Technologists need to know the company, add value, and generate revenue for the firm.

In Levon’s role as CIO, he analyzes the business needs and develops technical strategies to support them through innovation.

Levon closed the event with this sentiment highlighting the technology community in Iowa:

“If you look at the turnout in this room, we have a lot of great technologists here. I’m very proud to be a part of this community.”

Join us at the next TechBrew:AM on October 12th for a conversation with Wendy Batchelder, Chief Data Officer at Salesforce.

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