Discovering Retail IT Leadership Paths: Insights from RSPA’s NextGen Rising Stars

By: RSPA NextGen Community

RSPA community members often discuss the challenges of recruiting in today’s post-pandemic landscape. Overcoming the “good old boys club” stigma is crucial for the technology industry to make progress in modern recruitment. Where should recruiters look to find the next generation of retail IT leaders? The RSPA asked a few RSPA NextGen 40 Under 40 Rising Stars to share their stories of how they first entered the retail IT industry and what skills helped them secure their roles. Sharing their perspectives are:

  • Kirsten Ingersoll of VAR Electronic Office Equipment
  • Brianna Buccellato of Epson America
  • Thomas Barrineau of ISV OrderCounter POS
  • Travis Hare of VAR DCR POS

How did you get into the retail IT industry?

Buccellato: I got into the retail IT industry almost right out of college. At the time, I just saw it as an entry-level marketing job, but as I learned more about the industry, I found myself spending more time reading up on trends and new technology. It quickly turned from just a job to a passion.

Ingersoll: I got into the retail IT industry because I had been making some necessary changes in my life, including my career, and I have always been good with technology. I had been a server/bartender before, so I decided to apply here, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Hare: In 2010, I was working as a janitor at a local bowling center. I had two degrees, but there weren’t many jobs to go around. I became friends with one of the customers who told me to give him a resume and he would turn it in to his boss. Almost a year to the day, I got a random phone call asking me to come in for an interview. A dozen years later I am still in the industry.

Barrineau: In 2004 while going to college, I started a website to help my in-laws with getting more business in online ordering for their restaurant.

What is your greatest contribution to your organization?

Barrineau: Fostering our family-focused culture.

Buccellato: My greatest contribution to my organization is helping to enable our partners’ marketing. The retail IT industry relies on our channel, and many of the VARs and ISVs in our channel operate very lean and don’t have a ton of marketing resources. I love being able to help our partners to increase their awareness, generate leads, and form connections to help us grow together.

Ingersoll: I think one of the greatest contributions I bring to the company is my background in the service industry. I can put together a program keeping in mind how I would want things to look and flow as if I were taking and submitting the order.

Hare: I believe you can judge a good manager by the accomplishments of the people on their team. Members of my team have learned new skills, been promoted, surpassed me in knowledge, and have become trusted advisors to their clients. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished here.

Can you name a few skills that are necessary to break into retail IT?

Barrineau: Hard work. Joy of work. This probability applies to most things because these are always two of the most difficult skills to find.

Buccellato: The one skill that is absolutely necessary to break into the retail IT industry is the ability to adapt to new environments, technologies, and solutions at a quick pace. Over the past few years, we’ve seen online ordering, cannabis, and self-service solutions (to name a few) take off in a way that did not exist when I started eight years ago. Without forward thinking and the ability to adapt, it will be hard to be successful in the retail IT space.

Ingersoll: I think some skills necessary to break into retail IT would be willingness to learn, determination, and adapting to changes. I am still working on that last one!

Hare: Someone who is not afraid – I’m not saying they’re careless, in fact I desire the opposite. I just want someone to be willing to swing as hard as they can, fail as hard as they can, get back up, and dust off and try it again. Everything else comes from effort. For someone looking to be an entrepreneur in this space, my advice is to pick your partners wisely. Focus on creating a network of thought leaders and solutions providers who have a mutual shared interest.

RSPA and its members continue to collaborate and find ways to recruit and build the next generation of leaders. A prime example is best practice sharing that takes place in the RSPA Community meetings. The RSPA NextGen Community meets several times each year to provide a support network and resources for future generations and their companies to advance in the retail technology industry. If you would like to get involved in the NextGen Community, please email RSPA VP of Member Services Ashley Naggy at