- Waste Management has promoted Nikolaj H. Sjoqvist to chief digital officer after a multi-month search to fill the position. He will be responsible for all digital and technology functions, including e-commerce, online self-service, information technology, analytics and data management.
- Sjoqvist will be a member of Waste Management's senior leadership team and report directly to CEO Jim Fish. He joined the company in 2012 and was previously vice president of revenue management, which includes pricing, growth planning, marketing and advanced revenue analytics.
- During a recent interview with Waste Dive, Fish said that having someone in this position will help advance Waste Management's strategic plan for 2018. "We are quickly moving toward much more of a customer-focused technology platform," he said. "It's not just what you would see as a customer of Waste Management but it's also, what are we going to do to make our lives simpler internally, so that we don't have duplication of systems and duplication of data?"
Before he came to Waste Management, Sjoqvist was a consultant with McKinsey & Company’s marketing & sales practice for five years. Prior to that he had multiple finance, pricing and technology positions at Hewlett-Packard, Compaq Computer and Price Waterhouse in Europe and North America. Sjoqvist earned an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.
Fish initially announced plans to hire a chief technology officer during the company's Q1 earnings call in April. During a May interview with Waste Dive, he said the ideal candidate didn't necessarily have to come from within the industry and that an understanding of routing and logistics would be more important. This focus on technology continued during the company's Q2 earnings call in July, and as of late September, Fish said the search process had essentially concluded.
When Fish or other Waste Management executives talk about technology, they often focus on route optimization and automation. Like many companies, Waste Management now has cameras in every truck, as well as its own proprietary Service Delivery Optimization routing software. Earlier in the year, the company's vice president of collection and fleet operations said his team had "just scratched the surface of the information we'll eventually be able to get." As for automation, the company plans to roll out pilots at closed sites within the next year.
All the discussion of "big data" and automation comes as the industry seeks to move beyond its more traditional image. As fleet technology advances rapidly, newcomers such as Rubicon Global or Recycle Track Systems have made their systems a key selling point over the larger players. In many ways, their marketing tactics and business models bear more similarities to the tech world than the waste world. Waste Management's move to hire the first chief digital officer among its publicly traded competitors may reflect both a desire for internal optimization as well as a recognition of the need to keep pace with business trends which are larger than the waste and recycling industry.