There’s a reason Anddria Varnado was named as one of the Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business by the San Francisco Business Times. To meet her is to stand in awe of her ambition—an endless ambition to succeed, to drive change, and to help others.
Anddria started her career on Wall Street, navigating the world of investment financing and mergers and acquisitions. She then made the leap to a large global retailer, where she managed the acquisition of new brands before being tasked with building one herself—everything from the supply chain implications and business processes to infrastructure and marketing. From there, she continued to grow her strategic and operational capabilities, taking on increasingly larger and more complex roles in different organizations. It’s here that her love for consumer innovation began.
“The way customers are shopping is always evolving; it’s a constant challenge to keep up with them—a challenge that I enjoy,” said Anddria. “Fifteen years ago, you’d never buy a bathtub, a car, or a sofa online, but here we are.”
Throw in an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and she’s become a powerhouse business leader with her eye always on the next opportunity. “What else can we be doing?” is a question she often asks herself—and one that excites her. As the leader of Kohler’s direct-to-consumer business, Anddria is responsible for growth and profitability across online, in-store, and in-home channels while simultaneously building an unrivalled consumer experience. It’s a tall order, and one that she attacks head on.
“Kohler is such a strong heritage brand, and it really aligns with my values of being ambitious,” said Anddria, when asked what drew her to the company. “We have a premium product and the opportunity to grow and challenge ourselves.”
The direct-to-consumer space is unique in that Anddria and her team have the chance to connect with individuals—an opportunity they are using to drive change in the market. Every decision is a strategic one—how the website functions, how products are merchandised, how customer care operates—to optimize the consumer experience.
“Our goal is to make sure we have the most comprehensive, seamless experience for Kohler customers,” she explained. “We all shop online, and we know the frustrations when a website malfunctions or products are unavailable or aren’t delivered on time. We aim to alleviate those pain points as much as possible and help our customers enjoy their KOHLER products to the fullest.”
While she leans on the strength of Kohler’s heritage brand, Anddria is also quick to insist that we must not rest on our laurels.
“There’s always something we can do better; more we can add to our customers’ experience—and that’s the thrill of the job.”
Anddria also puts her fierce ambition to work helping others succeed. She is a volunteer for Management Leadership for Tomorrow, a national nonprofit that equips high-performing individuals from underrepresented communities—Black, Latinx, and Native American—with the tools for leadership and connects them with talent pipelines of leading organizations to create diverse executive teams and equitable workplaces. She also lends her expertise to local nonprofit organizations to help them grow and strengthen their community impact and sits on the board of directors for public and private companies.
“I strongly believe in investing in the success of those around me—another value that is reaffirmed and encouraged by Kohler,” she concluded. “I love to help others find their inspiration and make their unique experiences work for them.”
Somehow, Anddria manages to do it all. It seems, “impossible” isn’t in her vocabulary.