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2020 Star Women in Grocery winner Leona Neill (Q&A)

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Rising star

Leona Neill
Director of Marketing and Packaging
Red Sun Farms

How did you get into the grocery/CPG business?
I was introduced to the food industry through an internship with Hershey Canada. This introduction sparked a passion for CPG, and launched a 26-year career, with positions in industry leading companies like Unilever, Kraft Heinz, and now Red Sun Farms. Across all these experiences, the common thread is an industry that is filled with incredible people with generations of knowledge to share. The opportunities are there to learn, making each day a unique experience.

What do you think is your best quality?
I love the challenge of a deadline or a new deliverable that pushes technology, but ultimately it’s the people that I work with who bring out my passion for teamwork and communication.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Surround yourself with those that drive you to be your best self, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and be compassionate with others while maintaining your honesty, integrity, and humility.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? How did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge has always been finding that perfect balance between family and career. I love going to work every day and pushing the limitations of what can be done, but a young family will continue to grow and develop no matter what work deadline you’re facing. In our family dynamics this meant my husband became 100% dedicated to raising our children. I relied on him to share baby steps, class trips and school projects, so that I could experience these important milestones while maintaining the demands of my career. My success at work is attributed to my support system at home, and the flexibility this gave me to drive innovation and growth in the industry.

What has been a career highlight, or one of your greatest achievements?
My proudest career achievements are all about innovation! Packaging plays such an important role in functionality to consumers in protecting our foods and protecting our environment. I’ve been blessed to be part of many game-changing packaging redesigns that all presented unique challenges and opportunities, from developing display-ready packaging for Unilever, to high-acid baby food pouches with Heinz, and now compostable punnets and PLUs for produce.

What do you like most about your job?
The people, the challenge, and the sense of accomplishment. I also enjoy being part of an industry that provides families with healthy meal options throughout all stages of life. Through food we are part of people’s lives, their celebrations, comfort and nourishment.

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

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