Dawn Gillis, Senior Director, Acquisition Integration – Tech Services, 7-Eleven Inc.
IRVING, Texas — Before joining 7-Eleven Inc. in 2004, Dawn Gillis worked in various industries as a technology consultant, including finance, travel and insurance.
Originally hired as a contractor to support 7-Eleven’s store systems, the retailer then hired her full-time as the director of store systems before promoting her to director of business transformation.
In 2010, Gillis became senior director of infrastructure and operations, and her most recent role — senior director of acquisition integration, technology services — started in 2017, when the chain purchased assets from the Sunoco brand, including 1,030 stores. This was the largest acquisition in company history.
Gillis was accountable for the technology and processes to onboard the more than 16,000 employees and the store locations in an overnight transaction — and the project consisted of five different brands and technology systems.
Today, she has another “big” task — assimilating the more than 1,000 stores into the 7-Eleven system following the acquisition. She is proud of the groundbreaking work she and her team are doing for the Sunoco acquisition.
Gillis spent three months with the Sunoco technology department to learn how its system could be reconfigured and incorporated into the 7-Eleven platform. It was a challenge, but facing challenges is her favorite part of the job.
“It’s an incredible balance between customer service, store operations, merchandising, technology, vendor management, strategy and planning,” she explained. “I have partnered with my peers from different functional groups, and we all work together to solve the issues that come up daily. Onboarding a system this large into an even larger 7-Eleven system and then integrating all the operational processes is just the kind of challenge I love to collaborate on. The conversations are robust, fun and innovative.”
She also enjoys 7-Eleven’s customers and gets a firsthand opportunity to interact with them because once every three years, 7-Eleven employees in leadership roles must spend three to five weeks working in a store. This ensures the executives have a real-life understanding of what it takes to operate a store, manage product assortment, and how their decisions can affect a store’s sales and customers.
“Our business is all about service to the community,” Gillis said. “You can’t help but smile when a mom with a van full of kids stops by after soccer practice to get Slurpees, or meet a person who comes in every day at the same time and is happy to get the product they want and just say hello. It’s fulfilling and enriching, and it makes me happy,” she said.
During her 10-plus-year career at 7-Eleven, Gillis has prided herself on finding technological and operational efficiencies and capitalizing on them. In doing so, she has helped the company grow its business and realize significant cost-savings.
She earned the company’s “Big 3 Award for Business Transformation” for her role in the development and implementation of a major store operations and logistics transformation initiative. The prestigious award was presented to three people who worked on one of the company’s big three initiatives.
Gillis’ advice to other women in the industry is to be authentic and understand who they are.
“Being true to yourself increases your effectiveness in whatever you choose to do. This helps build your vision, identify your goals, improve your communication, and define how you will play a part in it all,” she said.