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2020 Star Women in Grocery winner Kelly Fleming (Q&A)

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Senior level star

Kelly Fleming
Head of Grocery/VP Marketing
Kraft Heinz Canada

How did you get into the grocery/CPG business?
My first taste of the CPG world was during internships at Molson Coors and Kraft Foods. I was instantly attracted to working on brands that play a role in people’s lives every day. I was hungry to make an impact and jumped at the opportunity to join Kraft, the pioneer of comfort foods, right out of university. Frankly, I wouldn’t have survived school without help from Kraft Dinner and Philadelphia. Over the last decade I’ve held various marketing roles, and most recently transitioned from Sauce Boss to head of the newly formed Taste Elevation Business Unit.

What do you think is your best quality?
A positive attitude. Having an optimistic perspective has allowed me to lead with enthusiasm and encouragement, while also giving me the confidence to take chances as I know I’ll be able to persevere no matter what the outcome.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Build your legacy from day one. Legacy is such a powerful word that I almost dismissed this advice when it was given to me until I realized what it meant—make an impact. Knowing my legacy will grow with each new experience has allowed me to seize new opportunities and set my sights higher. Something that seemed out of reach has now been a motivating force in every stage of my career.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
Having to let go. When you lead a brand or category, it’s your baby. You shape the vision, build the product, execute the strategy—everything. Like most professionals that make the transition from individual contributor to people manager, it was hard for me to let go instead of trying to do everything myself. Building trust with my team and assuming positive intent allowed me to overcome this challenge and uncovered my style as a collaborative leader.

What has been a career highlight or one of your greatest achievements?
A career highlight was surpassing the billion-dollar mark for my portfolio, being responsible for over half of Canada’s profit. Yet, something that still excites me to this day is seeing innovation on the shelf. From my first product launch (Delissio Garlic Bread Bruschetta Pizza!) to our most recent Kraft Hazelnut, it’s a journey from consumer insights to product development, and takes a tremendous amount of effort from a cross-functional team. It feels like a decade of achievements when I watch a consumer pull our products off the shelf.

What do you like most about your job?
No two days ever feel the same—change is constant. The grocery industry continually adapts to consumers’ needs, and I love cultivating a team that has the appetite to set the pace for the future.

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

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