REI Co-op members who tuned in to the co-op’s first-ever virtual annual member meeting on Monday, May 4, got their first look at REI’s newest board members, Gunjan Bhow and Ivy Chin. Both new directors received overwhelming support among members who voted to elect the two new directors and three returning directors to REI’s board. The co-op opted to increase its board to 13 directors total, allowing it to expand the expertise and perspective of REI’s governing body.
Bhow is a veteran digital leader who built his career around growing companies through a keen understanding of consumer behavior and creating products that solve customers’ challenges and create great experiences. A native of India, he moved to the United States in 1988 when he began college.
His career includes extensive leadership in the digital economy. He is the global chief digital officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance and held leadership positions at a variety of renowned organizations, including The Walt Disney Company, Amazon and Microsoft. He notes that his career has been defined by a deep sense of customer-centricity.
Bhow believes building community remains a key opportunity for REI.
“There’s a social capital one creates by being part of an outdoor community. Just as people appreciate the connection with the outdoors, they appreciate it with those who have shared interests,” he says. “REI can help a prospective member find their community in addition to just making it more enjoyable to take part in outdoor activities—we can all join hands and create a shared experience.”
Chin is an influential executive with more than 25 years of retail IT and e-commerce experience. She serves as chief digital and technology officer for American Tire Distributors and has held key leadership roles at several retail companies, including PetSmart, Belk and QVC.com.
Throughout her distinguished career, Chin has helped multiple organizations through digital transformation, while maintaining their core vision and values.
She similarly sees benefit in the community aspects of the co-op.
“To me, the value of membership is being a part of a community—to have the opportunity to connect with others with similar beliefs and passions, and together, make an impact and a difference,” she says. “When we come together as a community that shares a passion for the outdoors, we are a stronger voice for making the environment better, helping the climate and restoring nature to the way it was.”
In announcing results of the board election, REI board chairman Steve Hooper noted the co-op will be stronger from this expansion of expertise and diversity on the board, stating, “We know our co-op will benefit greatly from your leadership.”