Leading Through Transformation: Insights from Cara Renfroe and Women in Leadership

Abby Schlatter and Cara Renfroe discuss Women in Leadership in CX

The Women in Leadership community aims to celebrate, connect, and advance individuals who identify as women, including today’s leaders and those who aspire to leadership. On May 4, commonFont CEO Abby Schlatter sat down with Cara Renfroe, Blackhawk Network’s SVP of Global Operations and Transformation. They discussed Cara’s perspectives on what it’s like to be an executive leader at Blackhawk Network and how her experiences led her to rally the organization behind the mission of creating and sustaining customer-centric organizational change.

Click below to watch our Women in Leadership webinar replay

Journey to Transformation

After starting her career in retail, Cara advanced to lead Global Operations and Transformation at Blackhawk Network (BHN). Cara has deep expertise in enterprise systems implementation, product management, business operations, and strategy. Her experience in these areas helped Cara develop a strong perspective on driving effective change and empowering inclusive leadership, and how prioritizing human connections is key to unlocking both.

Managing and Driving Change

Organizational change is never easy. However, under Cara’s leadership, she and her team navigated a changing customer landscape and transformed Blackhawk’s operations to introduce a personalized approach designed around the customer. Working alongside commonFont, Cara and her team implemented strategies and scalable technology infrastructure to implement a Qualtrics listening program, uncover valuable insights, and deliver a best-in-class customer experience. She credits the success of these changes to rallying people behind a shared vision and helping them understand the “why” behind the vision.

“You cannot deliver transformation at any scale through brute force… You’ll absolutely be more successful if everybody knows about what we’re trying to get done, everybody’s bought in, and everybody is doing it together.”

Cara Renfroe, Blackhawk Network

Robust Mentorship and Inclusive Leadership

Blackhawk Network is a women-led company with nearly 50% of senior leadership seats occupied by women. Despite studies showing that organizations with greater gender diversity among leaders are more profitable, the technology industry still has a long way to go. We were curious to hear Cara’s perspective on mentorship, especially considering Blackhawk Network’s commitment to fostering diverse leadership. According to her, having mentors and offering support and guidance to others is crucial for professional and personal growth. Cara also emphasized that reporting on diversity and equity statistics can drive greater awareness and visibility of diversity efforts, which ultimately can enable change. Vocalizing and uniting around shared goals makes attaining these goals more achievable.

Unifying Through Human Connections

Cara shared how she has been energized and fueled by people and connections throughout her career. Our conversation with Cara highlighted how important it is to forge meaningful connections, nurture a belief in a cohesive mission, and cultivate strong relationships to drive transformational change. To remain people-focused and customer-centric at an organizational level, Cara pointed out how crucial it is to have a scalable, technology-backed approach to Experience Management. 

commonFont thanks Cara for her leadership, her perspectives, and for being a part of the Women in Leadership community at commonFont.