CHANDLER, Ariz. — Chase Cavanillas had never worked at the store level when he entered the Food Industry Management Program at the University of Southern California two years ago.
Coming from the information technology department at Bashas' here, Cavanillas said he expected the program to be “an eye-opening experience — not just because I had heard it was an extremely rigorous and challenging program, but also because I had always worked at the corporate office and had never been exposed to the operational side of the business.
“As a result, one of the most powerful things I took away from my experience there was a better understanding of retail operations, which is what our business is all about,” he said. “Everything else needs to be in support of that initiative, which is something I had never thought about to that extent before.”
Cavanillas, 25, is director of enterprise infrastructure at Bashas', running a team responsible for overseeing infrastructure technology.
He went to work for the company in 2000 as a part-time filing clerk in the human relations department. But an ability to help his boss resolve computer-related issues brought him to the attention of the IT department, which hired him to do PC support.
Over the years, he had moved up to systems administrator, network administrator and infrastructure manager when he was tapped for the USC program.
During his time there, he and his classmates ran a simulated grocery store, “and by the time I came back to Bashas', I was committed to making a larger effort to be involved with the operational side and to establish more contact with that part of the business to coordinate their IT needs better.”
One of the major efforts the department undertook was increasing the uptime for stores when the systems went down, which Cavanillas said Bashas' accomplished by switching vendors — from a frame-relay network to a multi-protocol label-switching network, which cut downtime considerably; and adding a backup line, which drastically shortened downtime when it did occur.
One of the other students in the USC program with whom Cavanillas became close worked at the distribution center at his company, and the two discussed their experiences and how the warehouse interacted with the IT department, Cavanillas told SN.
“That relationship gave me a new understanding of the interaction at Bashas' between my department and the warehouse, and we've been working on building a stronger relationship that's beneficial to the company by improving the technology at the warehouse and how they use it,” he said.
Cavanillas said his long-term goals are to become more involved in other parts of the Bashas' operation.
“I've done that over the past two years, and I think I've been fairly successful, but I think I still have a ways to go,” he said. “As part of the IT leadership team, my goal is to use technology to help Bashas' reduce expenses, become more efficient and generate more of a competitive edge.”
TITLE: Director of Enterprise Infrastructure, Bashas'
EDUCATION: Food Industry Management Program, University of Southern California