Newcomer of the year shortlist - Melissa Hayes!

We’ve over the moon to announce that our very own Melissa Hayes has been shortlisted for Newcomer of the Year ahead of this year's Women in IT Summit & Awards! 

Here are a few words from Melissa's manager, Elizabeth Dunn – Head of Business Change, River Island Tech.

I am so proud of Melissa Hayes for being shortlisted for the ‘Newcomer of the Year Award’ at the Women in IT Awards 2023. 

Mel is a Change Manager in our Business Change team, helping to land new technology with people across the business in the smoothest, most effective way.

Mel joined River Island 3 years ago as an Internal Communications Assistant (a non-Tech based role and with no Tech experience) and since then Mel has gone outside of her comfort zone and stepped into IT, establishing herself as an expert and a key resource in the Change Management space. Mel is the perfect example of a newcomer in IT, busting the myth that IT is an impossible and sometimes intimidating field to get into without IT experience (especially as it remains a male-dominated sector.) 
Since then, Mel has been instrumental in driving forwards our Retail Tech Transformation, delivering multiple IT change projects into River Island stores and ensuring engagement and adoption of new technology and processes are measured, monitored, and enhanced.  
Mel has been key in driving the delivery and adoption of numerous IT projects this year alone, from automating the way we do shift planning across all stores, to introducing RFID product tagging in stores and refreshing all our store networks and cash management procedures, and most recently, helping to launch our new concept store (River Studios) which introduces not only a new brand, but a technology-driven concept store with a variety of big technology advancements that store colleagues and customers need to understand, learn, and engage with. 
Mel is the perfect exemplar of River Island’s dedication to prioritising people and change management; always being very cognizant of the impact new technology change can have on people; sometimes new tech can be overwhelming and the level of change someone can adapt to in one go is limited. With the new store being fully tech-driven Mel recognised the need to check in with the store colleagues regularly about how they were feeling and put in place forums & methods to monitor store colleague perception and worries about the change and the new technologies. As a result of this, we were able to address concerns and issues in real time and ensure the new technology was received with excitement rather than apprehension.  
Because of Mel’s unwavering support, the River Studios trial has been extremely successful so far. Not only have we seen amazing sales performance in the new store concept, but we have also had a fantastically positive response to the in-store experience that is being driven by new technology, both from customers and from store colleagues who are using the tech day to day. This level of positivity would not have been possible without Mel; by engaging the store colleagues in a careful. considered way and ensuring they had full training offers in place and close support following ‘go live’ Mel has ensured that all the great technology has been adopted well and used to release the full intended value of the investment made. Not only has Mel seen quantitative results (i.e., sales, staff feedback, and adoption measures) but Mel has had fantastic feedback from those around her in the project team, with her colleagues and peers commenting on how helpful and supportive she has been to get the tech concept store launched successfully. 
Mel never envisioned a career in IT when she was working in other fields prior to this but is now on a trajectory to be an IT Leader of the future. And for that, Mel is an inspirational role model for any young women today, who have no IT experience but would love to pursue a tech-based career and don’t know how to get into it (or if they even can.) Mel’s success in entering the Tech field and delivering amazing things proves that anything is possible with an open mind, aspiration, hard work and dedication.

And River Island is the perfect environment for someone ambitious to thrive in, regardless of your experience or background. If you have a passion for people, delivering value and self-development RI Tech is a fabulous place to be.

A big well done to Mel …Mel, you should be extremely proud to be shortlisted and fingers crossed for the big awards announcement in February 2023 – regardless of the result, you are a ‘winner’ to us in River Island Tech and we are so excited to see where your career in IT takes you from here. 

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