Douglas Siegel – The Role of Operations in the Consumer Space

Q&A WITH DOUGLAS SIEGEL, FORMER COO & VICE PRESIDENT OF A TOP 5 WINE & SPIRITS DISTRIBUTION COMPANY

1) Tell us about your journey to Executive leadership.

I began my career having the fortunate position to participate in a rotational training program designed to provide learnings in all facets of business operations.  In concert with business training, I spent considerable time developing my self-esteem, attitude, risk, balance, and purpose.  Becoming a highly competent performer requires one to look inward so you may build a foundation for a long future.  One facet of Leadership is knowing you don’t know-it-all and being confident to ask for help.

During my training program, I questioned everything.  A business counselor provided me with a means to frame questions which disarmed managers and associates alike.  I use this incredible statement each and every day- “Help me understand…”  Beginning with “Help me understand” opens the lines of communication, is sincere and allows the other party to see you are open to their perspective.  It is powerful!

To get noticed meant taking a professional risk and extending myself to take on initiatives and less-than-desired projects.  This is a must for up and coming managers.  The learnings, takeaways, and insights into areas of the business which often go unnoticed are powerful.  You elevate your position within the firm because your experience gives you facts with which to provide solutions for leadership.  It allowed me to be visible to leadership, be identified as a problem solver and a thought leader.

I spent huge amounts of time bringing out the best in others.  Building solid, cooperative and sound professional relationships have a lasting ripple effect on your career. Respect. Integrity. Trust.

2) How do you work with your executive leadership team (ELT) to get the most out of the Operations function?

I spend time understanding each leader’s needs, their team’s goals, and gave thought to the ways in which Operations can support their initiatives.  As I mentioned above, building positive business intent with other leaders allows for deep bonds which allows for others internal and external stakeholders of the organization to emulate.

A means to understanding each leader was to develop a feedback loop with other executives.  Always done off-line, it helps all of us optimize personal performance.  My goal is to build a tapestry of engagement for go points and learnings to take place.

3) How has Technology augmented the way you and your organization approach problem-solving?

There is so much technology which can make us better.  The big challenge to sourcing and leveraging technology is based on three crucial questions- Do I know what I want to measure and is it meaningful to the business’s growth? Do I have the right people in place to deploy the technology?  And, does best in class technology lead to the best solutions?

In my decade’s experience leading technology for our organization, the advancement of SaaS has dramatically reduced critical infrastructure requirements, capital outlay and provided for more rapid deployment of use in field sales operations.  We deployed several applications for our sales and marketing teams for order processing, customer queries, and back-office operations which significantly improved business service levels, drastically reduced order errors and reposition associates to perform better and more meaningful work.

4) In your experience, how has consumer behavior influenced your decision-making in an operational role?

Consumer behavior and decision journey trends have rapidly changed during the past five years, necessitating business operators to evolve quickly thereby providing accurate, timely and relevant information during the sales life-cycle. To keep pace with consumer trends, executives must invest in systems, infrastructure, forward & reverse logistics and find operational efficiencies as a means to pay for these investments.

About Douglas Siegel – LinkedIn

Douglas Siegel, is the former COO & Vice President and senior executive of a top 5 beverage alcohol distribution company.  He serves on the board of directors for small to mid-size food and beverage companies.  He resides in Short Hills, New Jersey with his wife Dana, two children and Bear, their mini-bernedoodle.


I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.

Albert Einstein