Circular Economy

IKEA's digital chief on how tech can tackle COVID and the climate: Meet The Leader

Barbara Martin Coppola, Chief Digital Officer, IKEA

Barbara Martin Coppola, Chief Digital Officer, IKEA Image: IKEA

Linda Lacina
Digital Editor, World Economic Forum
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  • Meet the Leader is a fortnightly podcast from the World Economic Forum that features the world’s top changemakers, showcasing the habits and traits effective leaders can’t work without.
  • IKEA's first-ever Chief Digital Officer Barbara Martin Coppola discusses one of the biggest digital transitions in the company's history - one that was accelerated by the pandemic.

When most of IKEA’s global retail locations closed temporarily during the pandemic, e-commerce became the cornerstone for the company nearly overnight. Absorbing that surge was possible thanks in part to a digital transition already several years underway.

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Barbara Martin Coppola, the company’s first-ever Chief Digital Officer, was hired to lead this transition, one of the biggest in the company's history. The data and tech investments being made by Coppola, a Samsung and Google alum, are modernizing everything from supply chains to stores and the way its staffers work.

More robust data even gave the company a special window into how the pandemic was changing life at home for people around the world. These capabilities helped them serve ever-changing needs during a time of massive disruption and will help enable a special sustainability goal: To help more than 1 billion people live more sustainably by 2030.

"Sustainability is the biggest challenge of the decade," Coppola told Meet The Leader, "and technology very much can work towards, accelerating sustainability for inhabitants of the whole world."

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In this episode of Meet The Leader, Coppola shares the leadership lessons she’s learned from the past year and why she believes in the power of both resilience and “stubborn optimism.”

She also shares the experiences that have prepared her to tackle big challenges - including early music studies that gave her the toolkit for tackling large, complex problems.

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Learn more about the habits Coppola depends on, the book she recommends, and why it's important to humanise tech on this week's Meet the Leader podcast.

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