Before assuming leadership of IT in 2014, Gina Hitz spent 19 years in store development, where she applied an education in architecture and civic engineering. Today she builds up people and improves processes to take QuikTrip into the next century.

“Part of what I use my architecture background for is to build things,” Hitz says. “In this case, we needed to rebuild, remodel and really put a new face of what IT is for QuikTrip.”

This includes continually revisiting which roles can be automated, as well as the work and reporting structure following a change. Hitz also is tackling how QuikTrip’s IT teams work to make them more efficient and keep up with technological change. For example, the chain has shifted from a waterfall model of project management, where projects are planned in a linear fashion, to a vertical approach. It reorganized app desk staff into purpose-built verticals, where they share a common objective and work with colleagues outside IT to manage products. This approach has allowed QuikTrip to make decisions more quickly.

“It’s really limiting to be on a waterfall methodology if you’re working on a product that takes three years,” says Hitz. “In that cycle, there are so many technology changes that your design would be different today vs. … three years ago. You don’t end up with the results you were looking for.”

While Hitz oversees IT and is chief information officer, her job is more about talent development than keeping up with the latest tech. That includes building teams in which individuals keep each other accountable and benefit from others’ ways of thinking.

As Hitz says, “We believe in the future having great thinkers is as important—potentially more important—than having absolutely the top-line technology.”

“We needed to rebuild, remodel and really put a new face of what IT is for QuikTrip.”