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2020 Star Women in Grocery winner Kerry Tompson (Q&A)

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Senior level star

Kerry Tompson
VP, Talent and Inclusion
Sobeys

How did you get into the grocery business?
I didn’t grow up in the grocery business. I spent more than 15 years with multi-national high-technology companies, until I made the change to the grocery business. Through support to the CHRO of Loblaw at the time on chef career development, the conversation progressed to an exciting opportunity to start an organization development function during a transformation. Working with someone I admired, in an industry I love, I decided to come home to work in Canada again.

Proudest moment?
My proudest moments have been when I have worked with a committed team to take on a very significant challenge—where the path wasn’t clear, but we had a common purpose and vision to make that happen. Setting up a national talent acquisition function to support our stores through COVID in a matter of a couple weeks is a good example; we were in it together to serve
Canadians.

What’s your leadership style/philosophy?
I am a collaborative leader, and love bringing team members together who have diverse perspectives and talents, and leveraging strengths for a better outcome. My goal is to support, enable and challenge teams to reach their potential, meeting team members where they are at in their journey, and creating a safe space to talk about challenges and “be real.” Important for me is knowing what gets team members out of bed in the morning, and to harness that passion and conviction to make a difference.

Biggest challenge faced in your career? And how did you overcome that challenge?
Every experience, I find, is filled with learning. Two transformations in particular come to mind: one in grocery, one in utilities. These were new roles in new industries for me where transformation was afoot, the urgency was high, and the structure/approach/team wasn’t in place to deliver. First and foremost, you need to persevere, and keep to the vision for what you need to accomplish. Surround yourself and work with great people, ask for help, have a clear vision to rally around, and stay open to learn and adjust. And during times like this, make sure you find a way to “nourish yourself” so you can be better for everyone.

Career highlight/greatest achievements?
I have found the biggest challenges have been career highlights. Most of my career has been in the transformation space, and working with leaders/organizations and teams to define a vision, and then create the collaboration structures to achieve that vision. My career highlights have always involved developing amazing teams who rally together to make a difference.

What you like most about your job?
Being given the opportunity to make a difference, having meaningful work, and working with great partners and teams to make that happen. And working for a proud Canadian company, where the company values are aligned with my own.

Anything else you’d like to add?
It’s all about passion and purpose—if you do something you are passionate about, and see the possibilities, it keeps you energized and focused to guide you through.

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

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