Leader, Category Management
How did you get into the grocery business?
There have been a diverse variety of roles that lead me into the grocery business. After college I started working for Raimac Food Store Equipment. Being a small sales organization, I was exposed to every aspect of the business, and completed accounting and marketing courses. I moved into a sale’s role at Serca in 2000 (now GFS). A position came up in the marketing department as a buyer, and that’s where I learned all there is to know about distribution, and being profitable. In 2007, I started as a buyer with H.Y. Louie (now Georgia Main Food Group). I was able to bring all those transferrable skills and apply them to the retail grocery business.
My first hire as a leader had foodservice experience, specifically as a barista. When our fresh director approached me to help set up the coffee bar in Vancouver House, I reached out to our barista, who is now a category manager and asked if she wanted to help get the coffee bar up and running. She is so passionate about cafés that she designed the recipes, ordered the small ware, and trained the staff, then went onto help open up the coffee bar in our FSM Whistler location and train the staff there. I’m so proud to have this young lady as part of our team.
Your best quality?
I’m thankful to my father for my work ethic, honesty, integrity and loyalty. He once told me, “Wear your uniform (which was a polyester Dairy Queen one at the time) on the bus home and be proud that you have a job.”
Career highlight/greatest achievements?
Being asked to lead the category managers is truly the highlight of my career. I’m thankful to everyone I’ve been working with, especially those who have advocated for me in this male-dominated industry. I respect and love Mike Vargas for setting high expectations, and having so much respect for all the women on our team; Jim Campbell for all his leadership and support through our ever changing world of technology; Mark McCurdy for funding all that we ask for to execute at store level; and Ben Jung for all his consulting. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their support and for that I’m grateful.
Biggest challenge faced in your career? And how did you overcome that challenge?
I would say that I have an amiable personality—easy to get along with, kind and good natured. This can easily be mistaken for weakness. So, I’m grateful to be working with a company that lives out its values.
What do you like most about your job?
I love meeting with local entrepreneurs and listening to them pitch what they have created from the ground up. I love collaborating on launch plans and working through all the details to execute at store level. These fabulous entrepreneurs light up when they see it all come together, and they feel like they have made it; they feel successful.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m thankful for my daughter Alli and my husband Glen. Family is very important to me, and my team at GMFG also feels like family.
Click here for the full list of 2020 Star Women in Grocery award winners.