Last Refreshed: 5/23/2024 7:30:40 PM
Brand Story

International Girls in ICT Day: Get to know Jennifer Watson, Global Chief Information Security Officer at Ahold Delhaize

April 25, 2024 – The focus of this year's Girls in ICT day is on 'Leadership', highlighting the importance of female role models in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. Therefore we want to showcase the story of Jennifer Watson, Global Chief Information Security Officer at Ahold Delhaize, to empower girls and young women to consider careers in the field of information and communication technology (ICT). 

Since January, Jennifer Watson holds the global responsibility for information security here at Ahold Delhaize, including all brands and Operating Companies. While she thinks she is “quite boring”, we heartily disagree. Read on to learn her view on security and how she landed in this job (and what role the U.S. Airforce played in this). 

  • Name: Jennifer Watson   
  • Role: Global Chief Information Security Officer Ahold Delhaize since January 2024 
  • Lives in: Wassenaar, the Netherlands, since 2023 
  • Favorite brand product: “I really appreciate all the fresh baked goods and sandwiches at Albert Heijn.”   
When did you become a member of the Ahold Delhaize family and what has your career journey in AD looked like?   

I started as US CISO in September 2022, then moved to the Netherlands in September 2023 to be the EU CISO, and then took the role as Global CISO this year. I might be the first CISO to work in both our US and EU regions, before taking the global role. It is extremely important for me as a security officer to really understand the business I am trying to protect. Trust must be in place to work together with the business.   

There is not a huge difference between the businesses in the regions. At the core we have great people that care a lot about our customers and improving our services, but we approach this in a localized way that makes the greatest impact in the region.

What do you enjoy about working at Ahold Delhaize, and what are the biggest challenges that you are experiencing?   

The complexity of the organization is the biggest challenge, but also the most exciting!  Everyone genuinely wants to work together, but there are still potential gaps and lack of visibility that make it challenging at times. The grey areas in between workstreams for example: sometimes multiple teams are working on them, sometimes there is no clear owner yet.  

Prior to coming to Ahold Delhaize, I worked in the manufacturing industry, and I also spent time at Nike, PepsiCo and Mastercard. While in my experiences most industries have similar issues, the approach to how we solve the issue are different per industry. For example, the smaller margins we are working with in grocery retail means we must challenge ourselves to produce creative ideas and solutions to keep everything safe for a lean budget.

“The complexity of the organization is the biggest challenge, but also the most exciting!" 

What advice would you give to someone who is newly joining our organization?   

Be a sponge and absorb as much knowledge and history of the business as possible. What really helped me be successful is having that hands-on experience and really being able to empathize with the people, the customers, and the end users that the business is trying to help. I’d also recommend to anybody in IT or security, to take advantage of the Retail Immersion sessions which are organized by several of the local brands. I joined a session with Food Lion shortly after joining the Ahold Delhaize and spent 2 ½ days in the stores getting to experience a day in the life of store associates.

What is the most interesting thing about you that we would not learn from your resume/LinkedIn?  

Actually, I think I’m quite boring, but I did start out as a pre-med student and never had considered technology as a path until I joined the Airforce, and they told me that information technology is an area I’d be good at… I guess they were right since this is where I still am many years later.

What was the weirdest job you’ve ever had?   

When I was finishing high-school and preparing for my pre-med, I was working as a nursing assistant in a Urology office. I was doing tests and growing cultures in a lab coat, and even assisted with medical procedures.

What was your best holiday ever and why?  

Honestly, I enjoy all holidays where I’m exploring a new place and outdoors.  One of my favorites was skiing on Christmas Day.   However, spending the summers on the beach is amazing as well!

What do you do to relax when you are not working?   

Anything that allows my mind to take a break… I love getting outside or watching something silly on T.V., I like true crime.

The Ahold Delhaize values are Courage, Care, Integrity, Teamwork and Humor. What value jumps out to you most? And what value do you think needs the most work in our organization?   

I love the values that we have. To me personally our Integrity value appeals the most. Not surprising for a security person, I am always leading with honesty and being very transparent in every task and conversation.   

What value we, as a company, need to work on the most is hard to answer, as I’ve found as a company we do a great job at living our values; my only advice would be to always re-evaluate ourselves and stay balanced in our values.

Last Refreshed: 5/23/2024 7:30:40 PM