Features

Mike Breeze – European Wax Center 

Empowering tech transformation 

At European Wax Center, Mike Breeze helps the company grow and succeed through strategic technology initiatives. His role as chief information officer places him at the forefront of innovation, where he harnesses his passion for technology advancements to propel the company forward. 

Breeze’s approach to leadership is characterized by a unique blend of geeky enthusiasm and supportive mentorship. With a passion for innovation, he fosters an environment where creativity and forward-thinking thrive. By empowering his team to explore new ideas and technologies, Breeze ensures that the European Wax Center employs the right technology at the right time. 

Under his guidance, the company’s technology initiatives strategically align technology with organizational objectives. Breeze understands that technology is not an end but a means to enhance organizational processes and drive tangible business outcomes. 

“At  European Wax Center, we’re not simply passive participants in the digital age but architects of our future. As CIO, my mission is clear: to understand and deploy new technologies and harness the power of people, processes, and technology to steer our company toward continued success,” Breeze tells Toggle during an interview in April.  

Breeze says the company is committed to shaping the landscape of its industry and setting new standards of excellence. This is done through alignment with business partners and the use of the right technologies at the right time. 

Cultivating innovation 

Breeze has spearheaded a series of transformative projects to propel the company’s growth and ensure operational efficiency. One of his notable endeavors has been the comprehensive technology transformation of European Wax Center, a project aimed at streamlining internal operations and simplifying processes for franchisees and corporate associates. This initiative has boosted productivity by eliminating unmanageable tasks and introducing more efficient workflows and partners to lay the groundwork for seamless center openings and renovations, fueling the company’s expansion efforts. 

However, Breeze’s contributions extend beyond technology transformation. He has directed efforts toward strengthening robust security infrastructure and refined data engineering, recognizing the importance of these areas.  

“We’ve assembled a dedicated team to execute our data strategy vision, and that ensures timely access to crucial insights, enabling informed decision-making across the organization,” he explains.  

From optimizing tool sets to beginning the predictive AI journey, Breeze leverages data-driven approaches to drive customer engagement and enhance overall operational efficiency. 

Breeze’s meticulous approach extends to selecting strategic security and data engineering partners. European Wax Center now relies on industry-leading platforms like Snowflake for its data needs and partners with CI Group/Netrio for cutting-edge These true partnerships are crucial in fortifying the company’s technological foundation and safeguarding its operations against emerging threats. 

With its headquarters in Plano, Texas, and nearly 1,100 centers nationwide, European Wax Center relies heavily on Breeze’s leadership to navigate its technology and business strategy. His technology and process initiatives have enabled the company’s continued growth and success. 

Driving efficiency and collaboration 

Another significant project under Breeze’s leadership has been the shift away from traditional Information Technology architectures into a cloud model, allowing for a leaner technology team and improved operational efficiencies. Breeze solicits feedback from various stakeholders, including franchise owners and committees, to prioritize enhancements and ensure alignment with business objectives. 

Despite the IT team’s geographically dispersed nature, with members located in Texas, Florida, India, Illinois and Colorado, Breeze maintains a hands-on approach to leadership. His typical day involves engaging with vendors, partners, and internal teams, attending audit committee meetings, and addressing operational challenges as they arise. 

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a shift to remote and hybrid work models, with the European Wax Center embracing a remote-first approach. However, Breeze remains a constant presence at the corporate office in Plano, Texas, overseeing day-to-day operations and fostering a collaborative work environment. 

Breeze’s approach to mentorship centers on leading by example and fostering open communication. He encourages team members to take ownership of their work and learn from successes and failures. Building strong relationships with vendors and partners is a cornerstone of Breeze’s leadership philosophy, underscoring the importance of collaboration and mutual respect in driving success. 

An accidental career 

Breeze’s journey to success is a testament to his passion, dedication, and natural leadership abilities. With a bachelor’s degree in information technology, Breeze laid a solid foundation for his career in IT. 

His career began accidentally when he stumbled into an IT role after observing a friend’s job as a computer operator during a graveyard shift. Despite initially feeling out of his depth, Breeze quickly adapted and taught himself the ropes, showcasing his innate ability to learn and problem-solve on the job. 

Breeze has held various IT roles throughout his career, including a 12-year tenure at McAfee / Intel. During this time, he realized his aspirations for C-level leadership, setting his sights on roles such as CIO, chief technology officer or chief data officer. He attributes his success to many fantastic supervisors and mentors and the teams he has worked with throughout the years. 

Breeze’s management journey also began unexpectedly but naturally, with him assuming leadership roles early in his career due to his proactive problem-solving nature. Despite occasional attempts to veer away from management, Breeze was drawn back to leadership positions, driven by his curiosity and desire to make a tangible impact. 

Joining European Wax Center in November 2019 as the vice president of infrastructure, security, and enterprise applications, Breeze rose to his current position as CIO through fantastic mentorship and a collaborative culture. His vision and leadership have been instrumental in shaping the company’s technology practices, aligning them with his longstanding goal of changing its technological trajectory. 

My favorite quote is from Geddy Lee, the lead singer of Rush, who said ‘If you choose not to decide, you have still made a choice.’ And that ties into the greatest advice I’ve received (from two supervisors at McAfee,” Breeze says. “One said to make a decision and stand by it, whether it ends up being the right choice or the wrong one, because you can always fix it. The other message was about over-delivering. My supervisor told me he asked for a spreadsheet but was ecstatic because I had delivered an entire system. It set the tone for the rest of my career.” 

Published on: July 2, 2024

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