How did you get into the grocery business?
After stepping away from my career for five years to raise my two children, I was both hesitant and excited for the challenge of re-entering the workforce. The opportunity arose to accept the role of executive assistant with the president of Colemans Group of Companies; I was eager to join the tight-knit family-run company that I had grown up frequenting, and that I knew exemplified the community values of my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
One of my proudest moments in my career was being nominated for this Star Women in Grocery award. I have always been very focused and dedicated in my work without expecting any special recognition for doing so; I never anticipated such public acknowledgement of my performance!
Your best quality?
My former role as our president’s executive assistant taught me about multitasking and honed my skills as an efficient administrator. This professional attribute has been critical to my success in property management. However, the feedback I receive most frequently from store team members, office coworkers and other key stakeholders, is that I have natural interpersonal skills that I am able to leverage in my work. I see it as essential to treat everyone within the company with equal respect and kindness, no matter their role on the spectrum of business hierarchy. I see the importance of empowering every individual employee to feel they are an essential part of the company. This not only helps to push my colleagues to fulfill their potential, but makes each day gratifying.
Career highlight/greatest achievements?
In 2019, an opportunity for vertical career growth arose as I stepped into the position of property manager for the entire province. This transition into a more operational role allowed me to develop and hone new skill sets as I was faced with unique challenges every day. A challenge that no one had anticipated was the COVID-19 pandemic. Amidst widespread fears and concerns, our team worked tirelessly to address the growing panic with innovation and assurance. It quickly became apparent that our frontline workers provided an essential service to their communities, but that they also needed to feel safe to continue working. In the early days of the pandemic approaching Canada, I was consumed by brainstorming ways to ensure both employee and customer protection and had the idea to install Lexan glass barriers around each cash register. After confirming that this method would be effective in limiting viral spread our team rapidly installed the protective barriers in all Colemans grocery stores across the province in a matter of days.
We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from staff and customers who expressed how grateful they were to be able to continue working with a sense of safety and for customers who felt protected and were pleased to see how much Colemans cares about the health and safety of the community. It was so rewarding to see my idea take hold and pop up in grocery stores all across the country and I am deeply humbled to have been able to play a positive role in the response to this pandemic.
Biggest challenge faced in your career? And how did you overcome that challenge?
A significant challenge I faced recently was taking on the role of province-wide property manager for Colemans. Despite being later in my career, I was eager to develop new skills and have the opportunity to continue to push myself to learn and grow. I suddenly went from deciphering legal documents to reading about R22 gas and purchasing forklifts! The learning curve was steep but I was incredibly lucky to have supportive colleagues to mentor me along the way. While I am still learning every day, I am becoming increasingly comfortable in this new role and am happy to receive such positive feedback on my performance in this new space.
What do you like most about your job?
After spending so many years in the office, one of the most appealing aspects of my new job as property manager is having the opportunity to visit each of our stores and interact with frontline staff, departmental managers, and connect with colleagues from across the province. It is the building of these relationships that add enrichment to my day to day routine and are a constant reminder of all the hard work from such varied backgrounds and skill sets that goes into running our grocery stores.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I am honoured to be nominated for this award and look forward to continued growth and development within my career in the grocery industry. I would like to acknowledge the Colemans management team for their consistent support and encouragement to always be your best “you.”
Click here for the full list of 2020 Star Women in Grocery award winners.