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2020 Star Women in Grocery winner Danielle Nguyen (Q&A)

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Rising star

Danielle Nguyen
Plant Manager
Kraft Heinz Canada

How did you get into the CPG/grocery business?
My background is grounded in science, having received my Bachelor of Engineering degree (industrial engineering) from Concordia University in 2004. I held various roles at pharmaceutical and CPG companies prior to joining Kraft Heinz in 2019. Eating good food, especially with family and friends, is one of the pleasures of life. Food provides us with positive energy, daily enjoyment, and connects us together. Being able to fulfill these needs through my work is rewarding. Kraft Heinz provides iconic brands that Canadians love and trust, so I’m proud to be part of that tradition.

What are your greatest career achievements?
I’ve been fortunate in my journey so far to grow and develop my capabilities in best-in-class organizations, in addition to holding responsibility for five different factories. Being able to inspire my team through transformational changes, which can be stressful, and mentoring and developing future leaders have been my greatest achievements so far, and I believe there are many great moments ahead.

What do you like most about your job?
Ikigai is the Japanese concept of “reason for being” (do what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs and get paid for it). There is a passion inside all of us, a unique talent that gives meaning to our days and drives us to share the best version of ourselves. I’m very fortunate to have discovered my ikigai at my job.

As a plant director, I’m responsible for all activities in the factory—from safety to supply chain operations to people. Each day, I show up with positive energy and passion to inspire and position my team members to succeed, to develop their capabilities and to help them grow to their full potential.

What is the biggest challenge you faced in your career?
2020 has been one of the most challenging years for so many people and businesses because of COVID-19. Our challenge at the factory is to keep our people safe and to inspire trust by over-communicating both internally and externally, while helping to feed Canada without supply disruptions. To lead effectively during the pandemic, we have had to make smart choices quickly by thinking and communicating clearly and then executing flawlessly.

What is your leadership philosophy?
My leadership philosophy is servant leadership – it’s about serving others. I believe that a leader should share power, put the needs of employees first and help people develop and perform as best as possible. Servant leadership puts serving employees as a main priority and being a “leader” further down the list. I believe in empowering our people through empathy, active listening, stewardship, and commitment toward the personal growth of others.

What is your proudest moment?
During the pandemic, the volume for our food service department was severely impacted because restaurants faced the heartbreaking decision to close across the country because of COVID 19. Many businesses might have chosen layoffs. For Kraft Heinz, we instead chose to support our employees and their families by reassigning people and investing in enhanced safety and sanitation measures and training. I feel very honoured and proud to be part of the Kraft Heinz team that supports our people during these difficult times.

Click here for the full list of 2020 Star Women in Grocery award winners.

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