What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
My work supports two “quality-first” companies that care deeply about community: my employer for the last seven years, Dietz & Watson, which is fourth-generation family-owned and operated; and, we have a long-standing partnership with and my former employer, Giant Eagle, which is also family-owned. Working for these companies has allowed me to learn from industry leaders such as David Shapira, Voni Woods and Louis Eni—all of whom have led with a “growth mindset” to “skate where the puck is going.” (before those terms were coined). Their exceptional vision creates opportunities and drives results; it’s beyond rewarding to be part of their “families”!
What inspires your leadership approach?
I am inspired by a spirit of continuous improvement, which is the tremendous power of each person’s influence on a work product, aka: Only you can control your part in the game. I believe we can learn from mistakes honestly and humbly as a team so that we don’t repeat them and so we can plan to be better. Giving everyone what they need to do their individual best and encouraging all feedback (the good, the bad and the ugly) is the only way to improve. A healthy culture is set from top-down, yet can only exist through individual mindset. My approach is to remain open and to learn from people who think very differently from me. In the meetings that I influence, I remind people of something that I find to be personally empowering: Only you can control your perspective. My mantra is “Think Right, Act Right, Feel Right” (in that order), and I try to share it because it works.
What do you value most about being a part of the grocery business?
Everything. The food chain is essential to life. We cannot eat our bandwidth or nosh on our iPhones. My maternal grandparents survived the labor camps of World War II and earnestly told me that you can eat grass if necessary; they fled communism for freedom, but never forgot the deep despair of having no food. As a teenager, when I took my grandfather grocery shopping, I began to see the American grocery experience through his eyes; that feeling of awe and appreciation has never left me. We cannot drink from our bank statements or nourish our bodies with an assortment of shoes or enviable vacation pictures. The Christian disciples are commanded to “feed his sheep,” which is to share the gospel and teach the word of God; as a Christian, I feel called to do that, and also in my career, I think that I have been called to be a link in the chain that literally feeds families. My first job was selling hand-braided garlic that my family grew in our garden; from there, waitressing at age 16. After a career in strategy consulting with Pricewaterhouse, I worked in brand management for large consumer packaged goods companies (Quaker and Heinz). Like a garden ripe for harvest, American grocery retail is a miracle that happens every day; I have been extremely blessed to play a part in it.
A “Pittsburgh Steak Salad.”