That planning and budget position with one of America’s oldest retailers taught him key aspects of the retail economic model, he said. His career next shifted into management consulting with a focus on strategy development for large corporations in several industries, including retail.
After moving back into company management, Noden served as chief financial officer and chief operating officer at a Georgia carpet manufacturing company and as vice president of accounting and financial analysis for a Southeastern convenience store and gasoline retail chain.
In April 2012, he became chief financial officer for Birmingham-based Books-A-Million Inc. Through the years, his job title grew to include executive vice president and chief operating officer. In December, he was promoted to president.
Noden’s diverse responsibilities at Books-A-Million include finance, information technology, warehousing, distribution, store operations, human resources, construction, maintenance and legal. “Every day is truly different,” he said.
The Midwest native attended Purdue University on a Naval ROTC scholarship, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in industrial management in 1985. After serving four years as a Navy officer, he received his Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 1991.
“Because of the complexity of the business, heavy analysis of data and the need for strong business systems,” working in the retail industry “fit my background,” Noden said.
Collective voice and peer resource
Noden began serving on the Alabama Retail Association board in 2013 and joined the executive committee in 2016. His two-year term as chairman began Jan. 1.
He said his goal as chairman is threefold:
- Foster grassroots involvement in legislative issues.
- Help members become aware of the resources available through the association.
- Help members leverage their membership to network.
The Alabama Retail Association “provides a collective voice on the issues facing retailers today,” its chairman said. “Alabama Retail Association monitors legislative activity, makes members aware of pending legislation and solicits feedback from members about legislation so that their voice is heard. This would be impossible for individual retailers to do on their own.”
Even competitors need to discuss their common issues and work together for the common good, he said.
“The association is a resource for sharing information and connecting retailers to network and discuss approaches to dealing with problems they face,” Noden said. “Retailers are competitive by nature, but it makes sense to gain input on issues you may be facing from your peers.”
This story originally appeared in the Alabama Retailer.