EDITOR’S NOTE: Mike Silveira is vice president of loss prevention for CVS Health. Prior to CVS, he held numerous management positions with Home Depot.
EDITOR: How did you get started in loss prevention?
SILVEIRA: After high school and through college, I wanted to become a police officer. But before trying to join the police department, I had a part-time job at Ames Department Store in 1988 as a store detective. I’m proud of that background because CVS employs about 500 store detectives, and it’s important for credibility when you can provide leadership around issues in the stores with a history of being a store detective.
I later joined the Providence [CT] Police Department, but after getting married and moving to Boston, I re-evaluated my career path. Thinking about my LP experience with Ames, I decided to get back in the industry, so I took a job with Home Depot as an in-store loss prevention manager. That position grew to two stores and then a region. I had a very exciting career at Home Depot with lots of growth in the nearly ten years I was there. Leaving Home Depot was something I never thought I would do, but I had an opportunity to join a company that was right here in New England, a company that I grew up visiting and shopping at with my parentsCVS/pharmacy, which today is part of CVS Health.
I took on a director role at CVS, managing a loss prevention team throughout New England for about seven years. I was then asked to take on the leadership role of the department, which was extremely exciting knowing that the company was growing so quickly. We have such great people here, and having the opportunity to lead this team was an easy decision to make.
EDITOR: What is your current position at CVS?
SILVEIRA: I’ve been vice president of loss prevention for eight years and have been with CVS Health for about fourteen years total.
EDITOR: As you reflect back on the beginning of your career at Home Depot, did you ever imagine that you would become a VP of loss prevention?
SILVEIRA: I think lots of entry-level loss prevention people aspire to be in leadership one day. It starts with drive. I had a drive to excel and take on new roles and more responsibility. I was hopeful and driven toward it. When I was given the opportunity, it was a very exciting step in my career, like it would be for any LP professional. I’m very proud of this organization and proud to work here. I appreciate the opportunity that they gave me to lead.
EDITOR: When young people sit across the desk from you and say, “Someday I’d like to have your job,” what advice and counsel do you give them?
SILVEIRA: I think what’s most important is to have a good work ethic. And that includes the professional life of a driven person balanced with home life. I can think back to hundreds of conversations I’ve had with my wife about achieving success, and I’ve always gotten outstanding advice.
There’s a tremendous amount that you need to learn before you take on a leadership role. It’s very important to be patient. Learn as much as you can about the industrythe role, strategies, techniques, organizational structures, and the business side of the house. Understand budgeting, forecasting, and shrink budgeting for the front of the store as well as for anything specialized the company does, such as the pharmacy in my case and the many facets of the Caremark side of our business.
I think being innovative and reinventing yourself every year is also a key component. Being an outstanding leader, who is fearless and willing to take risks, is also an extremely important attribute that helps lead you to succeed in this industry. It’s important to give people good, solid feedback that is honest and direct and that people can learn and grow from. One of the things that I really value in my role is being able to get in front of the team frequently and be able to talk about issues at ground level.
EDITOR: What does your job as VP entail? What functions report to you? What do you regard as your main responsibilities?
SILVEIRA: My primary responsibility is to administer an innovative loss prevention program across the enterprise, which includes our retail segment and our distribution centers. We also administer an audit protocol and action planning to mitigate shrink. I also provide LP service to our PBMthe prescription benefit management business, which includes physical security and fraud-related investigations. And then there’s also a component on safety where we manage and measure the accident frequency rate in the distribution centers.
EDITOR: How many stores does CVS have now?
SILVEIRA: We have more than 7,800 retail locations.
EDITOR: With such a large number of stores, how have you structured the LP program?
SILVEIRA: We have nine area directors that manage the field. They have senior regional LP managers that manage anywhere from eight to ten regional LP managers (RLPMs). Then our RLPMs, among many other duties, lead a market investigator team. I also have three senior directors here in the office responsible for operations, analytics, and compliance.
Despite our very effective field structure, I also think it’s important for me to personally get out into the field regularly to keep close tabs on what’s happening in the stores and what’s happening in the market. I’m the kind of leader that likes to be involved, likes to understand the details, and knows the importance of sticking close to the stores.
EDITOR: What do your boots-on-the-ground people out in the stores spend their time doing? What are their priorities on the job?
SILVEIRA: The market investigator team is responsible for external shoplifting and some internal theft identification. The RLPMs are really our boots on the ground with respect to executing and implementing our shrink-reduction strategies in the stores. They facilitate post inventory and shrink action plans in all stores. They monitor what seems like hundreds of reports that help monitor growth. We also work hard to predict stores that will have high shrink and then deploy countermeasures in the event that current action plans aren’t working. They also deploy a very aggressive baseline audit that covers all aspects of the retail business and really measures operational conditions. And they are responsible for internal investigations in the front store and the pharmacy.
EDITOR: What value do you place on cross-functional relationships in achieving your objectives, including with operations, finance, and merchants?
SILVEIRA: Those are key priorities for us. Having cross-functional partnerships with finance and merchandising is an absolute must. We would not be able to execute a strategy without having good relationships with our merchants, for example, and that will drive how we deploy what product-protection devices we use. The finance team is critical for budgeting and forecasting, so the relationship has to be there and has to be effective.
I structure the field so that there’s always an “operating mirror” so that our LP management team has a corresponding partner from our field management organizationarea LP directors partner with our area vice presidents, senior LP managers partner with our regional sales managers, and so on. Having a strong partnership in the field is just as important as having a strong partnership in the corporate office. I pride myself on our team being completely ingrained in the business. We are a true business partner within the organization.
EDITOR: Were there any surprises or challenges that came with the role as VP? How did you deal with them?
SILVEIRA: There are always challenges in a company as large and complex as ours. But those challenges are exciting and fun. We don’t really have the sort of challenges that prevent us from moving forward. We get our heads together, we figure it out, and we move on.
EDITOR: What important strategies or technologies have you implemented in order to achieve your objectives?
SILVEIRA: We recently created an exception-reporting program that is tailored to CVS and is really dynamic and powerful. It has been a tremendous effort, but it lets us get truly groundbreaking and innovative with how we detect drug diversion. It’s amazing how much more efficiently it lets us size up an investigation and bring it to a close.
Also, I think that our team that works on innovations around product protection has been extremely creative with balancing a good product-protection program with the importance of the service-oriented nature of our company and ensuring our customers have convenient access to the products we sell. We’ve been very nimble with regard to striking that balance between customer service and managing our external theft.
In the pharmacy we’ve rolled out some innovations around GPS tracking with respect to robberies, and we’ve recently started to install time-delay safes, which are important tools to help protect our pharmacies.
EDITOR: Is there a different mindset or different set of action plans that you have for the pharmacy as opposed to the main store?
SILVEIRA: The front store is similar to a traditional retailer. Just like any other retailer, the front store is susceptible to external theft, and we have initiatives that go after the very small number of our customers that do choose to shoplift.
The pharmacy is a little different because it’s a secured environment. There is basically no external theft unless there’s a robbery, so we have and are continuing to deploy initiatives to address internal diversion in the pharmacy. Diversion detection and diversion management continue to be primary focuses for us and not only from a shrink perspective. We do measure shrink in the pharmacy, and we’re proud of that number, but diversion has a community impact when drugs get on the streets, so we take that very seriously.
The pharmacy is also a more complex side of the business with respect to the regulations that govern the business. Investigations involve the DEA, for example, so they’re obviously more complicated.
EDITOR: How does your responsibility for LP logistics distribution functions and supply chains differ?
SILVEIRA: We do have merchandise going through our distribution centers (DC), so there’s a component of our plan that targets internal theft in those facilities. Another component manages systemic shrink in the DCs. And for prescription drugs, there’s a diversion component that also extends all the way through our supply chain. There is also the safety aspect of managing a warehouse, managing our accident frequency rate, and deploying efforts in support of our safety group to minimize as much as possible the number of accidents that we have in the DCs.
EDITOR: You have an environment that is susceptible to ORC issues. What have you done to handle ORC over the years?
SILVEIRA: I am really proud of our ORC team here at CVS. They’re a six-person team led by Jim Lynch and Tony Shepherd, who both come from law enforcement and LP operational backgrounds. They do an outstanding job with a small staff of people who are spread around the country in strategic locations. The team has done a tremendous amount of work with local, state, and federal law enforcement. They really have been able to deploy an ORC program that is collaborative, effective, and results-oriented with our partner retailers. And their recovery rates have been outstanding. Whenever I look at their results, I am just so impressed with how well they partner with not only other retailers within the pharmacy and convenience store sectors, but also some of the big-box retailers. Their relationships with the police, which are obviously an essential part of an effective ORC program, are outstanding.
EDITOR: Other than in the ORC arena, are there other ways you collaborate with retailers, especially other pharmacy companies?
SILVEIRA: I have a very good relationship with Tim Gorman at Walgreens and Bob Oberosler at Rite Aid. We talk every once in a while about more specific strategies. Robberies have been one of the more recent items on our agenda that we discuss and share specifics and really support each other. And I’ve always been really happy with the relationship that we have because it extends beyond any kind of competitive discussion. The loss prevention and asset protection folks all share common goals. The same risks affect us as affect Rite Aid or Walgreens, so I’ve always been very open with Bob and Tim, and they have always had a willingness to share. The three of us have had a very effective partnership.
EDITOR: What programs at CVS do you have for educating and training your LP team?
SILVEIRA: Education and continuing education are extremely important to me. We have a number of training programs that make us much stronger. We have somebody on our team that manages development and training and oversees the deployment of these programs.
In addition to ongoing training within the company, I think that industry training is very important. The Loss Prevention Foundation, for example, is one group that is extremely important. My personal involvement with the foundation is relatively new to me. I’ve been a board member for just over a year now, and it’s extremely exciting to be part of this group of leaders. And the LPC certification program is one that we’ve planned for and are going to be deploying internally as a program to really enhance the skill sets of our team. I’ve been looking forward to the program, and I certainly continue to look forward to being a part of this great group of leaders in the industry. I look forward to providing whatever input I can in order to continue to promote continuing education both internally as well as outside the company in the industry at large.
EDITOR: Are there any personal mentors that helped you get to where you are today? What have you learned from them and how has that helped you?
SILVEIRA: I’ve had several important mentors, and they have all added value in different ways. I currently report to two great leaders that I learn from every dayCarol Denale and Dave Denton. When I worked at Home Depot, I learned a lot from Ed Wolfe and from Keith Aubele. There are things I learned from operating partners over the years both at Home Depot and CVS. When I came to CVS, I learned a lot from my operations AVP Scott Baker at the time, a tremendous leader who really taught me a lot about the business and how he views loss prevention’s role and how LP fits into an organization. He’s someone who is still a mentor today. I’m proud to say that some of my best mentors have been from the operation side. But from an LP side, you certainly learn from everybody. I try to pull a lesson from everybody that I’ve either worked for or have been led by. I certainly learned a lot from Ernie Deyle who was here in the VP role when I was a director.
EDITOR: I know that CVS has always had a long-term relationship with the LPRC. How do you make use of the LPRC?
SILVEIRA: We’ve had a very long relationship with the LPRC, and I think that the studies we’ve been involved in have been critical to shaping many of our initiatives. A lot of our product-protection deployment efforts have come from that research. So I’m very pleased and proud to be part of that team.
EDITOR: When you’re not working, what occupies your time?
SILVEIRA: I enjoy my job, and I enjoy investing time in it. I enjoy the discipline this job requires. I enjoy being someone who spends a lot of time out in the field. I’ve also been married for twenty-one years and have one 14-year-old son. I can’t think of anything better to do on my weekends than watching him play baseball or soccer, and when he’s not playing team sports, I enjoy a day of golf with him and my wife. When I’m not working, I try to spend as much time with my family as possible.