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2020 Star Women in Grocery winner Erin Towns (Q&A)

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Rising star

Erin Towns
Sales Director
Kellogg Canada

How did you get into the grocery/CPG business?
I found my first job in the technology industry, but quickly moved to a job at Labatt Canada, and five years later to Kellogg Canada. I realized very quickly that my work was more meaningful to me when I could relate to the brands and products my company represented, and my personal values aligned with those of the organization overall.

What do you think is your best quality?
I work very hard to create an environment where my team members feel like they can bring their ideas and be heard. I expect my team to challenge each other as much as I challenge them, but in a respectful way that brings out the best in all of us.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Love it, change it or leave it. If you don’t love where you’re at you need to change the way you view your situation, or take action to leave. The best part of the advice is not to expect someone else to change—the change has to be within your control. Often, reframing how you view situations in a positive light is all you need to move forward.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
I switched career paths in 2008 and moved from the finance function to a role in sales at Kellogg. My first role was in customer marketing and developing sales strategy. At the time, my customer experience was solely based on shopping in stores. Thanks to the support and guidance from some amazing managers and mentors, I was able to learn a lot and successfully made the transition. Since then, I’ve held numerous roles of increasing responsibility in sales.

What has been a career highlight or one of your greatest achievements?
Innovation has been the most gratifying part of what I have accomplished in the past 14 years at Kellogg Canada. There’s nothing like working through the challenges of bringing a new product to market, and then feeling the success of seeing it on the shelf and especially in customers’ carts. The launch of Keebler Crackers at Loblaw in 2018 is one of the more notable initiatives for me. That specific launch created a path to launch Cheez-It Crackers in Canada across all customers.

What do you like most about your job?
I’m very fortunate to work with great people. People have made the difference in my career. My team is exceptionally supportive and positive. I work with great customer partners, and I’ve been able to coach and mentor some amazing people. I’ve also been lucky to be on the receiving end of great coaches and mentors. Overall, I thoroughly enjoy working with my teammates and colleagues across the organization.

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

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