First Movers: Tim Madigan

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Tim Madigan is a Partner in the eCommerce Practice at The Partnering Group, and Chief Commercial Officer at Black Point Seafood, a DTC seafood company. Prior to this, Tim had roles at Tyson Foods (VP of eBusiness) and SC Johnson (Global eCom Director). Tim began his career at Procter & Gamble, where he spent 17 years in various sales & marketing roles, culminating in establishing the P&G/Walmart eCommerce business relationship.

Tim earned an MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business. He has a Bachelor of Science in Commerce from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia. Tim lives with his wife and 2 children in the greater Chicago area.

Why did you choose to pursue eCommerce in your career? 12 years ago at P&G, I was asked to partner with Walmart to figure out how to sell diapers, Braun razors, and Oral B toothbrushes online.  This was when CPG products were just beginning to be sold online – and Walmart was looking for a partner to figure it out. I was hooked.  I loved the challenge of figuring out a new way to do business. I really enjoyed the spirit of the retail teams I worked with: “learning and building together.”  It’s been an adventure carving new paths forward as categories move online – from diapers to food.

What is your biggest strength, and how have you used it for your success in eCommerce? I’ve always thrived in a collaborative environment. That has served me very well in eCommerce because it is the cross-section of so many disciplines and functions. While you typically approach it as a “sales channel”, you quickly realize that you need to optimize supply chains, R&D new products, refine and create, and analyze data, develop new ways of marketing, and do it profitably…. By being able to work collaboratively across functions, we’ve been able to accelerate our online success. 

What is the weirdest skill or talent to come in handy in your eCommerce experience? As a teenager, I would put on skits and be goofy as a camp counselor. I try to remember to not take myself too seriously – and be willing to be vulnerable – during executive and conference presentations.  

How have you most successfully influenced change within your organization (or with your clients)? Data. Executive “message tracks” are very challenging to change. In CPG especially, data drives a lot of decision making. I’ve been most successful influencing change when I’ve used data to portray the new marketplace realities, and then layout the strategies for how we win together.

What are you learning right now? To be ok with life’s interruptions at work.  I smile whenever a child or dog wonders into a colleague’s zoom calls. It humanizes them. I’ve been trying to appreciate those moments when they happen to me vs. thinking of them as annoying or embarrassing.  

What are the 1-3 songs that would make up your career soundtrack today?

  • Patience by Guns N Roses: When I began my career, eCommerce didn’t exist. I could not predict the path I would take. It wasn’t always easy or smooth. I learned so much from every experience – making me a smarter executive and better leader. 

What are the 1-3 books you’ve gifted the most or that have greatly influenced your life, and why?

  • The Everything Store by Brad Stone: Really amazing origin story of Amazon. If you’re going to be in eCommerce, you need to understand Amazon – and not just how Vender Central works.
  • Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp: I give it to all new fathers… it gave me the confidence I needed to be able be a supportive husband and father.

If you could have a gigantic billboard for the world to see with anything on it, what would it say, and why? “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

I find this really inspiring… A small group of people can change a company, an industry, your community and the world.

What are the worst recommendations or advice you have heard related to eCommerce? “eCommerce won’t happen in my category because….”

From Diapers, to Razors, to Pet, to Fresh Meat, business leaders have explained to me why consumers wouldn’t want to buy their category online. Many of them now have over 20% of their sales online today…

What advice would you give to a future leader of change about to enter business, or specifically the eCommerce field? If you want to run a business someday, go broad first. Experience different functions, categories, industries… Don’t feel like you need to have the clear path carved out. I’ve yet to see someone lay out a career map and manage it exactly as they initially laid it out.  Try things – learn a lot… meet a lot of people and try to enjoy every role – even the tough ones. The foundation you build will serve you well when you’re the leader.  

What specific, industry-related change do you believe will happen that few others seem to see? The rise of “platforms.”  Consumers want convenience – being able to go to one location to get all your needs met. In Brick & Mortar, this manifested as malls.  Online, Amazon and Alibaba were the next incarnation of this. People flock to these “everything stores” because they know they can find what they are looking for there. As these platforms build their audiences, they build tremendous value & power.  I think Instacart has the potential to be the next major platform. And most CPG executives don’t understand how much of their current business is going through that platform.   

What is the last thing you bought online, and why? SWET pants. Because I’m still not comfortable with business on the top and party (PJs) on the bottom. The “wear anywhere” pants are my move towards work from home casual. Even my 10 year old son (who insists on wearing “comfy pants”) says they are amazing…

First Movers is a change leader interview series featuring select industry pioneers who are boldly driving the evolution of digital commerce, the consumer and everything in between.

Categories: First Movers