Page 1

A Griffin Report special feature

September 2017

The Top 40

Rising Leaders

Who are the food leaders of tomorrow? This, our third annual “40 Under 40” list, an offshoot of The Griffin Report’s popular annual “Women of Influence” compilation, identifies those up-and-coming leaders. Some are members of families who own companies and have grown up in the business, some are those whose talents and contributions already have garnered them recognition early in their careers. Many of our nominees this year have unique backgrounds and gave us interesting answers to our questions. A couple that stand out are Tara Bonds Ponnett of Ahold USA and Tom Tomaselli of Price Chopper/Market 32. Tara is VP of assortment strategy and merchandising support at Ahold USA. When asked about defining moments of her career, she mentioned learning her leadership skills from her father, and discovering her own personal strength when she lost her father to cancer. She also mentioned that her leadership style continued to evolve after the birth of her sons as she worked to integrate her personal and professional life. “As a result of these moments, driving engagement and development have become priorities, instead of only goals and achievements. I believe in the contributions of my team, and their ability to succeed at home and work. I hope the changes I made impacted the way my team members will lead, how they see their potential, and their confidence in the choices

they make to own their paths forward.” Her advice for upcoming professionals: “Find something that you are passionate about, not just good at. That has made the difference in my career, and I have truly loved coming to work with my teams to move the business forward. Being passionate about what you do will give you the courage to reach for what you want, and the confidence to be successful in those roles, personal or professional.” Tom has worked for Price Chopper for 25 years, even though he still has not reached 40 years of age. He started as a bagger and is now VP of center store, grocery, GM and HBC. He has interesting advice for upcoming professionals: “The supermarket business is built on core fundamental business functions, and there are critically important functions to learn from each position along the way: bagger, stock clerk, manager, etc.…I recommend that upcoming professionals understand the business from the ground up. Additionally, I have had the privilege to learn from many great leaders within the company and throughout the industry. I have always studied the best characteristics each of them possessed and try to both incorporate them into my approach to the business and in my efforts towards leading the team.” Turn the page to find the stories (and more sage advice) from our 40 Under 40 honorees. —Mike Berger/editor-Northeast

in the Grocery Industry

page_22-24-26-28-29-30-32-33-34-36-37-38.indd 22

8/23/17 2:13 PM


page_23.indd 1

8/21/17 9:16 AM


24   The Griffin Report of the Northeast  •  September 2017

More Coverage griffinreport.com

@

Food Industry Rising Leaders Do you have a defining moment of your career?

Jorge Azevedo Kraft Heinz Co.

Years in the company: 4

Current position:

Head of U.S. Sales Finance and Execution

Education:

BA-International Relations, and BA-Economics, BYU; MBA, University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

I’m most proud of being part of the industry-changing actions we’re taking at KHC and having the opportunity to lead some of them. We have brought innovative thinking into several aspects of our business, be it in assortment management, go-to-market execution, redeployment of costs into working dollars and significant steps in gaining efficiencies.

Yes, the most valuable phase in my career has been the time I spent in field sales for Heinz. It was a great opportunity to learn the business dynamics in detail and connect the dots with everything we try to implement strategically at KHC. The worst thing that can happen to a business leader is to be disconnected from the reality of the business she or he intends to run.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

We manage a very complex business across retail in the U.S., and I wear multiple hats: financial planning and analysis, revenue management, category leadership, in-store execution, shopper marketing, and shopper insights. We have a broad portfolio and deep penetration with retailers; managing this complexity in such a dynamic environment is at the same time the most challenging and the most fun part of my job.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

13

Current position:

M&M’s Innovation Marketing Manager

Education:

BS-Food Science; MBAManagement

What are you most proud of in your career

Indoor rowing is my new hobby. I have switched a lot of my exercise focus to it and have a great time training and watching my national and international rankings; I’m very competitive. What I like to spend most of my free time doing is playing with my kids and enjoying my wife’s company. So that’s essentially how I split my free time: family and exercise.

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

Jeff Badolato

Imperial Distributors Years with the company: 2

Current position:

Sales Operations Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BS-Business Administration, New England College; The United Way and my local food pantry.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

Finding the synergies between my team members’ personal career goals and my company’s organizational needs. The most personally fulfilling aspect of my job is developing talent and leadership capacity within my team, and it is always rewarding to be able to recognize a high-

Taking an opportunity at my last company to relocate and work in a new market (New York and New Jersey). Being comfortable within the New England market, it was a risk for me to enter a new space and take on a new set of challenges in an unfamiliar territory—and also required me to move away from family, friends and girlfriend (now wife). While difficult at the time, I now look at that decision as a milestone in my career. The experience of working in a new district and with a new team altered the way that I approach challenges, accelerated my growth and development, and provided me with a broader and more diverse perspective on the needs of our customers.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Keeping pace with the trends impacting the everevolving CPG landscape.

achievements?

I am proud to work with talented cross-functional teams to have launched delicious products consumers love: M&M’s Crispy Chocolate Candies, M&M’s Flavor Vote and M&M’s Caramel Chocolate Candies.

Jamie Baulier Years with the company:

Hobbies:

performing team member’s growth by promoting them to take on a new role within the organization.

While my current role is primarily focused on managing the day-to-day operations within my district, I also work hard to contextualize this work within the broader challenges and opportunities facing our industry and identify new strategies to better meet the needs of our retail partners.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

Seize every opportunity to broaden your experience, never pass up a chance to learn something new and stay curious. Taking on new opportunities and projects not only demonstrates a willingness to break out of your comfort zone, but will also help to inform your future career path. Additionally, developing strong relationships with peers, team members and (especially) mentors is critical in order to both meet short-term goals and accelerate longterm personal and professional growth.

Hobbies:

Playing bass guitar in a Boston-based rock band, backpacking trips with my wife, snowboarding and exploring New England on a classic Yamaha race bike.

I include myself in that group. I still have a long

achievements?

Mars Chocolate North America

path ahead of me before I get to where I want to be. But what I always tell our incoming trainees and MBAs is focus on learning the business, on adding value to the company, and on being someone people can always count on. No leader will ever be respected without understanding the fundamentals of the business he or she is leading. Progress only comes from delivering results, and the ultimate measure of results are those that push the company forward in true value added. Any organization values the employees who can be counted on, those we can trust and that will deliver consistent results. I see a lot of people who focus on being the person the company depends on, and that is always a shortsighted approach that stalls career growth.

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

Mars provided me with the opportunity to move from product development to marketing early in my career. Working in an innovation role is the perfect blend of marketing and R&D, and enables me to look at problems through both a creative and technical lens. The defining moment of my marketing career was the recent launch of M&M’s Caramel

page_22-24-26-28-29-30-32-33-34-36-37-38.indd 24

My ability to grow sales well over goals set and my ability to wear different hats. I have a great understanding of the c-store industry.

Chocolate Candies, which has been the biggest innovation launch for M&M’s.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is determining which new product to launch next.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

My advice is to be open to new roles outside of your expertise. Your prior learnings and experiences allow you to contribute a unique perspective to any role you’re in and build empathy for other functions.

Hobbies:

My hobbies include baking, experimenting with new gluten-free recipes, and playing the violin.

Anna Bettencourt

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

Current position:

When I realized my parttime job could be a career and it could be fun, and it has been. I have met a lot of great people and learned a lot from my time in the c-store industry. I started part-time with VERC when I was only 20 years old.

Education:

What is the most challenging part of your job?

VERC Enterprises Years with the company: 19

Category Specialist

BS-Business Management, Curry College

What are you most proud of in your career

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

My advice would be to listen more than you talk.

Hobbies:

Exercising, meditating, hiking and spending a lot of time with friends and family.

The most challenging part of my job is staying ahead of the curve and different trends.

8/23/17 2:14 PM


page_25.indd 1

8/21/17 10:18 AM


26   The Griffin Report of the Northeast  •  September 2017

More Coverage griffinreport.com

@

Food Industry Rising Leaders

Ted Breitowich JOH Specialty

Years with the company: 2

Current position:

VP-Specialty, Metro/Mid-Atlantic

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BA, Rutgers University; broker member of Specialty Food Association for past decade. “I enjoy attending the Specialty Food show and networking at member events while staying up to date on our industry.”

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

It’s an honor when a company puts their trust in our broker team to represent them. My proudest mo-

ments are when I’m able to assist in the launch of a new product and see it on the shelf for the first time. I have pioneered several successful brands in our marketplace, growing them from zero sales to top national sellers in their categories. These products are people’s passions and livelihoods, and I’m extremely proud to play a role in their success. I’ve also been lucky enough to hire, train and mentor several very talented people. I’m particularly proud of my one mentee who began working for me as an administrative assistant and is now the national sales director for an importer.

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

In October 2015, I sold my food brokerage to JOH. Selling my company was a culmination of all the hard work my team and I had put in during its 13 years of operation. I joined JOH where I could continue to grow my career and where every one of my employees could continue theirs accounting classes in my junior year of high school.

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

Ryan Clemens

Imperial Distributors Years with the company: 2.5

Current position: Controller

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BS-Accounting, Bryant University; Massachusetts CPA; United Way.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

I am most proud to have obtained my CPA license after passing the exams and meeting the requirements for hours worked, as this had been a goal of mine since I started taking

To this point in my career, my career-defining moment was when I received the offer to work for Imperial Distributors Inc. as their controller. It was a defining moment because it really proved the importance of my experiences (graduating from Bryant University, interning and then working full-time for a smaller-sized CPA firm, auditing for BDO Seidman LLP, and progressing in various roles at Staples, Inc.). I view it as a validation of all the hard work I had put in over those years of my life.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging yet rewarding, and even fun, aspect of this role is planning for the work that lies ahead each day. There are many days where I plan to accomplish such and such

page_22-24-26-28-29-30-32-33-34-36-37-38.indd 26

as well. Our family joined the JOH family. Two years later, it still feels that way.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Our evolving industry has experienced a massive amount of change in the past decade. My customers are vastly different from when I began calling on them. To do my job properly, I must stay current and maintain my expertise with each of them. Creating positive opportunities for our clients is one of my top and most challenging priorities.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

Maintaining a good reputation is essential to success, and that begins and ends with proper followup and integrity. People need to know they can depend on you to respond to their requests in a timely and honest manner. Be someone people can count on, and they will.

Hobbies:

I’m a foodie who joys fishing, traveling spending time with beautiful wife and dogs.

Retail Business Services

Years with the company: 9

Current position:

Direct, Sourcing NFR

Education:

MBA, Bentley

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

enand my two

items, but then will be asked to join a meeting or work on something completely different. Before you know it, the day is over and those items I had intended to work on hadn’t been touched.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

The best piece of advice I can give is to realize that, more likely than not, you are not going to be the smartest person in the room. However, if you always maintain a positive attitude and have a strong work ethic, you will do well in whatever professional role you choose.

Hobbies:

Joel Brissenden

I enjoy spending time with my wife Sarah and three children (Courtney, 8, Brendan, 5, and Natalie, 11 months), whether it be as a family or with other family and friends. I am also fortunate to have the opportunity to coach Courtney and Brendan on their respective town soccer teams. When time allows, which isn’t often, I enjoy golfing.

Andrew Connell

C&S Wholesale Grocers Years with company: 10

Current position:

VP of Procurement

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BS-Operations Research, Cornell University, 2006; member, CSCMP; volunteer for my kids’ schools and sports teams.

What are you most proud of in your professional achievements?

I’m most proud of the accomplishments of the teams I’ve worked on and of people that I’ve led and mentored. I’ve been lucky to lead teams in several areas of our business and

Seeing my team come together to work with their counterparts during the AholdDelhaize merger. There were a lot of opportunities for people to step up and leverage the skills they had developed over the last two to three years, both as leaders and sourcing professionals. I take a lot of pride in being a part of my team’s development, and it’s awesome to see when it translates into great work.

Do you have a defining moment in your career?

I wouldn’t say I had a defining moment but rather a defining year, which was 2016. Heading into that year, my manager and I had discussions on change leadership, empowerment

in all areas the most rewarding part has been seeing people grow and become passionate about the work they’re doing. C&S is innovating in so many ways, and many of the people I’ve worked closely with continue to push us forward every day.

Do you have a defining moment in your career?

During my 10 years at C&S I’ve had the opportunity to work in several different parts of the business—procurement, facilities, automation and supply chain optimization—before returning to procurement last year. The defining moment in my career came with my first move from procurement to facilities. I had left a team where I had a lot of functional expertise and was leading a small group of people to join a new team where I was the only person. This was a very difficult transition but it enabled to me focus on utilizing the skills I had in a new area and gave me the opportunity to build a team from the ground up. The experiences I’ve had where I’ve been uncomfortable have always been the most

and some other key leadership concepts. The challenges of the year presented a great opportunity to put into use the experience, training and education I had received up until that point.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Shutting down at night. I’ve made significant strides in the last 24 months on this, as it’s important to have balance. You’re more productive on all fronts if you can achieve it.

Hobbies:

I have three children, ages 7, 6 and 4, so my hobbies are tailored around doing things we can do together, like video games and bike riding. I’m passionate about photography, love to golf and need to get in my morning run every day.

rewarding.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Creating balance for my teams and myself is the hardest part of my job. I have an incredible wife and three kids (15, 2 and four months) and I’m as passionate about work as I am about my family. I strive to find balance every day, and to talk openly to my teams about the same.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

The advice I give to many young professionals is to make sure they understand how their work connects to how the company defines success. Every year C&S sets strategic goals, and for people who are eager to learn and grow they should be creating connections between their work and the company’s goals. Additionally, as new opportunities present themselves within the company, people who are curious about and connected to the company’s goals will be well positioned to grow.

Hobbies:

Family, cycling and woodworking.

8/23/17 2:14 PM


page_27.indd 1

8/21/17 9:17 AM


28   The Griffin Report of the Northeast  •  September 2017

More Coverage griffinreport.com

@

Food Industry Rising Leaders the most pride in these large-scale, critical-to-success team goals. The ability to come together as a group to achieve a “whole that is greater than the sum of its parts” is what I believe to be a key differentiator, particularly in the grocery industry.

Jeff Edwards Bozzuto’s

Years with the company: 1.5

Current position:

Director, Supply Chain

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BS-Mathematics, Boston College; volunteer in annual Dream Ride event, benefiting Special Olympics.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

My proudest achievements have always been group-oriented. Whether working through a large new customer integration, or chasing a lofty team goal to generate savings/efficiencies, I’ve always taken

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

One defining moment came very early in my career, when I expanded my skill set beyond producing financial/logistical analysis and began learning to work together with people in different ways. It was then that I learned that my career growth and, to some degree, my personal growth, would not come from mastering one specific craft but rather expanding my skills to include a much broader scope and applying them to best fit the needs of my company.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

AJ Letizio Sales & Marketing

Years with the company: 1.5

Current position:

Business Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

Attended Finger Lakes Community College; Board of Director Midlakes Babe Ruth Baseball League.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

At the risk of resorting to a cliché, my advice to upcoming professionals is to have a five-, 10- and 20year plan. Your plan should go well beyond the position/title you want to hold. It should be a road map, with as much detail as possible so you can self-assess your progress each step of the way. Be honest with yourself about where you stand and whether you’re on track to achieve your goals.

Hobbies:

Golf, skiing, travel…especially travel!

John Fraro Big Y Foods

Years with the company: 11

Current position:

Corporate Produce Sales Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

Culinary Arts and Foodservice Management, Manchester Community College; National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

Being well rounded in

The most challenging (and exciting) part of my job is

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

Deb Galliher

developing new strategies on a day-in, day-out basis to address the constant pressure being put on ours and our customers’ margins as a result of various industry trends (e.g., deflation, driver shortages, consolidation, etc.). This requires creativity, careful thought, the ability to gain buy-in and diligent followthrough…but can be very impactful and rewarding if done right.

Pinpointing one achievement is difficult because I feel like I am just getting started. The most rewarding point in my career thus far is the personal accomplishment of promotion from bakery technician to business manager. Hard work and tenacity does get recognized!

Do you have a defining moment in your career?

I would say that the most defining moment in my career was a direct reflection of the greatest moment in my personal life. Once I became a mother I learned the importance of taking time away from the job. Taking that fam-

page_22-24-26-28-29-30-32-33-34-36-37-38.indd 28

the grocery industry is what I am most proud of at a young age. I started my career as a meat cutter, then moved on to become the sous chef at Fresh Acres Market. Prior to joining the produce department, I spent time as the corporate bakery and deli sales manager.

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

Leading a team over the past two years to develop and implement a chainwide Cheese Merchant Training Program from ground up. The process taught me many valuable lessons and skills that I will carry on into other aspects of my career. This project was rewarding, knowing that it helps grassroots team members grow and develop in their careers as well as grow specialty cheese sales year over year.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of being in sales, in my opinion, is having patience. Sometimes it can take years to see the fruits of your labors.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

Be your own cheerleader and advocate for your career goals. Understand there’ll be criticism, but use it as an opportunity to learn.

Anne Golding Giant Foods

Years with the company: 5

Current position:

Finance Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BBA-Accounting, Ohio University; MBA and MSManagement Marketing, University of Maryland University College; Network of Executive Women (NEW) Mid Atlantic Chapter; National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Maryland Chapter.

The most challenging and enjoyable part of my job is getting out in front of industry trends and changes. I have been fortunate that Big Y has given me the opportunity to constantly strive to be innovative and creative.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

Build a career with a company that helps you to be passionate about your industry. Make sure that you are so passionate about your career that it never feels like work. Always give 100 percent in everything you do and never give up on your goals regardless of how hard people tell you it will be.

Hobbies:

I enjoy music, kayaking, home improvement projects, creating new dishes in the kitchen and exploring grocery stores and restaurants wherever I go.

What is the most chal-

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

ily vacation or a half-day to play at the park helped me to better focus during working hours. My overall disposition changed. Once I recognized and aligned my priorities, I’ve been able to delegate the appropriate time to both and thus became more focused and effective.

lenging part of your job?

I am most proud of having the ability to translate financials to co-workers who do not deal with the numbers behind the business on a daily basis. Throughout my career I have always been the go-to person to help build bridge financial complexities in an everyday simple manner.

Do you have a defining moment in your career?

I started my career in general accounting and was in a position where I was the accountant performing journal entries, but had the opportunity to build budgets and analysis to support the marketing team. This position was a turning point in my career because it motivated me to get my MBA and masters in marketing. It opened my eyes to see that while accounting is an incredible

foundation, my heart was in finance and marketing. After receiving my double masters, I have continued to support the marketing/merchandising groups from a financial perspective throughout my career.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is communication. My current role sits in a divisional office, yet I have stakeholders in other offices and out in the field. I do my best to build relationships and keep lines of communication open. I have worked with my peers to develop a quarterly inperson meeting because I believe that building relationships is the key to success.

Hobbies:

I have incredible wanderlust and love to travel and experience new cultures. If I haven’t been somewhere I always say it is on the list! I like to hang out with friends and family as well as work out, especially Pure Barre.

8/23/17 2:14 PM

@


Coverage @ More griffinreport.com

September 2017  •  The Griffin Report of the Northeast   29

Food Industry Rising Leaders job?

g and job is of inanges. e that e the tantly e and

om-

comto be ur inat you about never s give ything ve up ess of you it

aking, projhes in loring estau-

Donald Grandmaison lēf Farms

Years with the company: 1

Current position:

Sales & Marketing Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BS-Environmental Horticulture/Plant Physiology, AS-Environmental Horticulture and AS-Ornamental Horticulture, University of New Hampshire; New Hampshire Food Bank, Capital Region Food Bank.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

As part of the sales and marketing team at Pleasant View Gardens, I was the first person hired to a new position at the company:

product specialist. With this title, I was given the opportunity to shape and mold this new position and was empowered to help increase communication within the company. We made the most gains with broker offices by streamlining communications on programs and product offerings. As a result, we were able to completely overhaul our 300-page catalog, which was the most rewarding aspect of being a product specialist.

Do you have a defining moment in your career?

Being hired by the Huntington family twice has defined my career… twice. I was first hired as a product specialist at Pleasant View Gardens then later at its sister company, lēf farms, as sales and marketing manager. In both situations the Huntington family has provided me with the tools needed to do my job effectively and was committed to my success by investing in my professional development.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Startups inherently have

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

Michael Hannon

Stop & Shop Years with the company: 17

Current position: Store Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BS-Business Administration, University of Massachusetts–Boston; affiliation with local food banks, churches and Boys and Girls Clubs of South Boston as a store manager.

My most proud moment of my career was winning the store manager Rookie of the Year award in 2016. This award is given to the rookie who has positively impacted his store and district the most. I am also very proud of winning several contests, including The Cure Childhood Cancer campaign, Support for Troops and Food for Friends (supports local food banks during the holiday season). My team and I were able to deliver the most donations in 2016 to support these great causes.

Do you have a defining moment in your career?

I would say the most defining moment was when I found out I passed the store manager assessment. This changed my career path.

page_22-24-26-28-29-30-32-33-34-36-37-38.indd 29

challenges; in many cases, it feels like the new frontier. The learning curve is sharp, as every day we are faced with new problems that we, as a team, need to navigate, communicate and solve in order to keep the “train” moving forward. The challenge is facing this daily pressure with a smile, while keeping the team focused on our mission to change the whole idea of what tasty greens means.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

Start with the end in mind and work backward. If you know where you want to end up, then identify the strategies necessary to get you there. That means working hard, proactively bringing solutions that help move things forward and keep you on track to reaching your goal. Additionally, do whatever you can to maintain a positive attitude. This includes engaging your team to communicate both challenges and victories, while being open to looking at things from different perspectives.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

Kelli Hall Giant Food

Years with the company: 20

Current position:

Human Resources Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

Studied business management at Howard Community College; professional certification in HR management from Michigan State University; Network of Executive Women (NEW) Mid-Atlantic Region; Howard County Public School System.

I am most proud of my career path at Giant Food. I started with the company at 15 years old as a bagger. I saw that the company was a great place to grow and develop my career. I took the opportunity to learn a variety of roles in the store and decided to go into management in 2008. I worked hard, and it paid off. I was named assistant store manager of the year in 2009 and was promoted to store manager in 2010. In 2011 I was given a temporary assignment in human resources and loved the role and responsibilities. I jumped at the opportunity to apply for my current role, human resources manager for distribution operations. This position has given me exposure to an entirely different aspect of the food retail industry, which has added learning

and growth opportunities to my career.

Do you have a defining moment in your career?

Early in my career I found a mentor that pushed me to step out of my comfort zone, and it made me the leader I am today. She taught me the P&L, merchandising and how to manage people. More importantly, she taught me how to network and build my personal brand. Without her guidance I wouldn’t be where I am today.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

No two days are ever the same. You never know what surprises might be in store for you, but that is what makes the job fun and interesting. It definitely keeps you on your toes!

Hobbies:

My husband and 12-yearold son are my world. We spend the majority of the spring and fall on the baseball field. When we aren’t there, I love to travel.

Hobbies:

At home you will find me playing with our five- and three-year-old boys, hiking with our pup or working the garden.

I was an assistant for 10 years and was eager for the opportunity to prove that I have what it takes to be an effective leader. It is an intense evaluation. You have to be able to speak well and think on your feet. You also have to demonstrate your knowledge of the business by analyzing a profit and loss statement and then clearly and intelligently presenting to a group of evaluators.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I believe the most challenging aspect of my job is recruiting, training and retaining talent. Our business is fast-paced, stressful at times and includes working nights, weekends and holidays. It is not for everybody.

Hobbies:

My hobbies include playing sports, going to the gym, playing guitar and spending time with friends and family.

PJ Herstek

C&S Wholesale Grocers Years with the company: 12

Current position:

Senior Director of Merchandising & Military

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BS-Food Marketing, Saint Joseph’s University

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

I have always tried to be a people-first leader. The ability to foster a sustain-

tion.

able environment for a diverse set of employees is tremendously important to me. The opportunities I receive to employ individuals and support them in advancing successfully in their careers, roles or personal lives, gives me the most pride and satisfac-

Do you have a defining moment in your career?

I unfortunately lost my father right as I began my career. Losing him as a young adult forced me to reflect and be self-aware of who I was and who I wanted to be very early in my professional life. While his passing didn’t necessarily have any direct professional significance, this was a very defining moment for me on how I wanted to establish myself and what to be known for.

a fascinating industry that has changing trends at the drop of the hat. We have so many varying generations to provide service for, so many varying regions we service, so many advancements in technology to be ahead of—all of which has to be addressed to sustain our highly diverse consumer base. Although challenging, this is also what keeps it so interesting.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

Be hungry, but be patient. Be confident, but don’t be pretentious. Be revolutionary, but be respectful. Be nice. Be inspiring. Be a complacency killer.

What are your hobbies?

Spending time with my family and friends. Anything related to music and anything related to the outdoors.

What is most challenging part of your job?

Keeping up! This is such

8/23/17 2:14 PM


30   The Griffin Report of the Northeast  •  September 2017

More Coverage griffinreport.com

@

Food Industry Rising Leaders What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

Devin Ingersoll The Greater Boston Food Bank

Years with the company: 1

Current position:

Product Donation Assistant Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BS-Environmental Science, Stonehill College; member of Net Impact Boston; member of the Young Non-Profit Network of Boston; former Americorps VISTA volunteer, 2014-16.

I am most proud of the connections I have made across the food industry in the short time I have been in the workforce. I have met many wonderful organizations and individuals that I have already learned so much from and am excited to continue to work with.

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

After graduation, I decided to pursue a year of volunteer service at a nonprofit in Brockton, Massachusetts, which really launched me into my current career trajectory. I developed my passion for sustainable agriculture, food security and food waste, which all have combined into my current position at GBFB.

What is the most chal-

business relationships has helped drive additional margin dollars to not only J. Polep but our customers as well.

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

Adam Kramer

J. Polep Distribution Services Years with the company: 11

Current position:

VP of Purchasing and Food Service

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

Bachelor’s, American International College; WAM Advisory Board Member and Food Service Committee Board Member.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

I am most proud of the relationships I have developed over the years with our manufacturer and vendor partners. The willingness to develop successful

Professionally, a defining moment in my career was two and a half years ago, when I was promoted from director of food service to VP of purchasing and food service. This promotion gave me the ability to be more creative and innovative within the food service division. Holding these two titles allows me to partner with our manufacturers to develop strategic food service opportunities for our customers. Meeting with a majority of our vendors, I really get down to the grassroots of each product line we carry and understand how it can enhance our customers’ sales.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging and interesting part of my job is keeping up with the industry trends. Our job is to help generate profit

page_22-24-26-28-29-30-32-33-34-36-37-38.indd 30

lenging part of your job?

the good along with the mistakes, which, in fact, turned out to be some of the best learning experiences.

The most challenging part of my job is working with large food manufacturers, retailers and distributors to divert food waste from the landfill and onto the plates of people in need. This requires a lot of relationship management, supply chain logistics and some luck to function successfully.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

My advice for any professional in the food industry is to think about the full life cycle of your products. Do you have systems in place at your company to prevent edible product from going in the landfill? If not, could you implement a new system to cut down on your waste, feed others and cut costs? If the answer is yes, I would love to talk to you!

Hobbies:

I enjoy spending as much time outdoors as possible— hiking, running, biking or going for a walk along the beach.

dollars for our customers. And with the industry always evolving, J. Polep is constantly presenting new ideas and market trends to our customers.

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

Lazaro Jimenez

Morton & Bassett Spices Years with the company: 1.5

Current position:

Area Sales Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

“School of Life—one never stops learning.”

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

The evolution of my career. Every single job I’ve had, I’ve learned something new and have taken the knowledge with me to the next. This includes

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

The best piece of advice I would offer is surround yourself with a great team and be a great team member yourself. Be the person your team turns to when they need assistance. And have trust in your team; let them assist in making decisions. The team at J. Polep, whether I’m speaking about the purchasing, food service, sales, operations or customer service departments, I can confidently say they are by far the best in the industry.

Hobbies:

I am a family man, so I love going home to my wife and three kids (Drew, 8, Matthew, 5, and Harper, 2). I am also very passionate about sports, so I enjoy coaching my two boys in baseball, football and basketball. And if time allows me, I do enjoy getting out on the golf course for a few holes.

Paul Laliberte Jr.

AJ Letizio Sales & Marketing Years with the company: 2.5

Current position:

Food Operator Specialist

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BA-Culinary Arts, New

I started working in the restaurant industry at a young age. I’ve always had the sales bug within and used it in my various positions. Eventually I came to a point in my life where my need and desire for growth and selffulfillment led me to pursue a rewarding and stable career path. Selling in the food industry seemed like the right route to go, and I haven’t looked back since. My intention was to always do my best and grab the opportunities as they came. Luckily, the opportunities continued to come. A good work ethic, perseverance and determination helped me get to where I am today.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

There are so many different personalities in this industry, especially in the

Northeast. It can be challenging at times, trying to adapt instantly to someone’s unique character. It’s always good to keep a sense of humor and not take things personally. Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes also helps to see the bigger picture.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

Let your work speak for itself. Don’t shy away from the tough, not-so-comfortable stuff because that is what creates your reputation. Make sure you are passionate, no matter what you do. Be humble. You can always learn from others. Keep in mind that respect and trust are earned, not given. Creating relationships is essential in this industry and they go a long way. Ask questions.

Hobbies?

I love soccer, both playing and watching. I appreciate a good boxing match. I like keeping up on current events. I enjoy spending time with friends and family, cooking, eating and drinking a nice, cold beer on the weekend.

England Culinary Institute; volunteer for the annual basket packing for the holidays.

ance and respect, I have shown my knowledge and willingness to learn.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

No job is too demeaning; no shift is too long; take every opportunity you are given to advance and learn; forge ahead with the “yes” attitude.

Being given the opportunity as an intern to be a team leader at the annual Massachusetts Food Association convention at the Omni Mt. Washington.

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

Graduating college one year early while working full time.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

Hobbies:

Working out, running obstacle course races (OCR) from three to 15 miles. I will finish my first Spartan trifecta this year and will travel to Canada to run the OCR worlds this October. Of course, I am constantly doing research and development.

Youth can be a disadvantage with seasoned professionals, but with persever-

8/23/17 2:14 PM


page_31.indd 1

8/21/17 9:18 AM


32   The Griffin Report of the Northeast  •  September 2017

More Coverage griffinreport.com

@

Food Industry Rising Leaders mas Association.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

Nick Letizio

AJ Letizio Sales & Marketing Years with the company:

4 years of total business experience

Current position:

Business Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BA-Economics, Yale; Massachusetts Foods Association; Windham Christ-

I take great pride in being the fifth generation of my family working in the food industry. Carrying on the traditions of generations before me while also bringing my own unique skill set to the table is very satisfying.

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

After years of consulting in the highly analytical pharmaceutical space, being able to introduce a new flavor of strategic analysis and technology to our clients has defined my time as a broker.

BS -Economics, BA-Writing Culture & Media Studies

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

Eating My NYC Years with the company: 3.5

Current position: President

I am most proud of the fact that I was able to turn a hobby into a career. I am so fortunate to do what I love every day.

sions, have created a new industry in social food networks. Every day, they make something that touches millions of people around the world, and they’re changing the way people think about food in the process.

For me, the most challenging and valuable aspect of my role is to address issues in a way that transforms them into opportunities. Being a proactive and efficient problem-solver cultivates trust and drives business forward.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

Never be afraid to ask questions. Curiosity will show your passion for your field and will help you develop more quickly into a well-rounded professional.

Hobbies:

In my free time, I enjoy playing tennis, distance running, hiking New Hampshire’s 48 4,000-ft. peaks, and performing in a classic rock band.

What is the most chal-

Education/professional/volunteer affiliations:

Alexa Mehraban

lenging part of your job?

Ashley McCollum BuzzFeed

Years with the company: 5

Current position:

General Manager, Tasty

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BA-Economics Presbyterian College; Girls Inc.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

ready to pursue EatingNYC full time.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Without a doubt, the team we’ve built at Tasty. They’re world-class, innovative creators, artists and chefs who, in pursuing their pas-

Learning that saying “no” most of the time is a good thing. It has helped me define my brand and has been crucial to my success.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

Work hard and focus on what you love to do; everything will fall into place in time.

Paul Meisen Giant Food

Years with the company: 13

Current position: Store Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

Bachelor’s, Christopher Newport University; currently enrolled in Anne Arundel Community College working toward a Retail Management Certifi-

page_22-24-26-28-29-30-32-33-34-36-37-38.indd 32

When I was a college senior, I booked myself a ticket to New York and stood outside of the “Today Show” in Rockefeller Plaza with a sign that said “This Southern Belle Wants to Be The TODAY Intern.” I held it up during commercial breaks to get the attention of the producers and finally Jim Bell, the executive producer at the time, came downstairs to meet me. I handed him my resume and cover letter and continued to follow up with him, and months later landed a position with the NBC Page Program. After several assignments in the Page Program, I worked my way up to the NBC News

cate.

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

So many great moments! The most pivotal was probably when I decided I was

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

division and held roles on the marketing and communications teams before joining BuzzFeed.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The fact that there is no playbook for running and growing a business like Tasty. It’s built on a new model, incorporates new video formats and it’s distributed in an entirely new way. There’s no precedent, so every day we need to test and learn and push ourselves to break new ground. That’s also what makes it fun!

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

Anything is possible! It’s sounds cliche, but I really believe that the only person who can stop you is you. When you enter any new job or situation, don’t look at the obstacles—see the potential.

Hobbies:

Tennis, interior design, and travel. And I’m learning Spanish!

today and has taught me invaluable lessons about business.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The proudest achievement in my career came last year, being awarded “2016 Top Performer for People Development.” The award made me proud, as it wasn’t simply an award for doing my job well, but meant that I was helping others develop and succeed in their careers.

Time management. Food retail is a fast-paced, competitive environment; managers are often pushed and pulled in a dozens of directions. Having good time management skills is critical for success in retail and maximizing productivity. To overcome this, I utilize thorough planning, prioritizing, delegation and empowering my team.

Do you have a defining moment in your career?

They include outdoor activities such as fishing, golfing and camping. When the days don’t allow me to be outside, I enjoy going to the movies with my family.

I do not have a single defining moment. I have had the opportunity to work with several great retail operators, some who are now leaders within the company. Each has helped define who I am as a manager

Hobbies:

8/23/17 2:15 PM

@


Coverage @ More griffinreport.com

September 2017  •  The Griffin Report of the Northeast   33

Food Industry Rising Leaders have developed as an individual throughout my career and moved forward. My skill set has significantly broadened, and I feel I am better equipped to accept new and diverse challenges.

es on combefore

aljob?

is no g and like new new s disy new edent, ed to push new what

om-

e! It’s really erson you. new t look e the

esign, earn-

Zeshan Muhammad

VERC Enterprises Years with the company: 11

Current position: District Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations: BS-Computer Science

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

I am proud of how I

ht me about

aljob?

Food command and directime critiil and tivity. utilize priorid em-

or ac, golfWhen me to ing to amily.

Eric Polep

J. Polep Distribution Services Years with the company: 17

Current position: EVP /COO

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

Bachelor’s, Northeastern University; CDA Board member; WAM Advisory Board member.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

I am most proud to be able to say that I have touched every aspect of this busi-

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

The defining moment for me was on my promotion to district manager, especially since I had started at the grassroots level and put in a lot of hard work and dedication.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Ensuring that our stores are adequately staffed so business can run smoothly. Retention is sometimes an issue, but I am for the most part supported by a strong team who step up and as-

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

sist when needed.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

Pay attention to detail and be meticulous, stay focused and dedicated, and never consider any part of your job to be below you. If something needs to be done, get in there and do it. Don’t just be a leader to your team, be a part of it.

Hobbies:

Outside of work, I enjoy watching sports and spending time with friends and family. I am also an active member of Lagaan cricket club and during the summer we compete with teams from all over the USA as part of the Massachusetts State Cricket League (MSCL).

Melissa Passalaqua JOH

Years with the company: 9

Current position:

Director of Category Management

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BS-Business Administration, UMASS Lowell; member, Network of Executive Women; member, Category Management Association; VP, high school alumni association; PTA volunteer.

ness. I started working in the warehouse when I was 16 years old and since then I have done everything from stocking shelves to picking orders to making deliveries to merchandising to sales, all the way to where I am today. It was important for me to learn how everything works with firsthand experience.

who I am today.

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

Set goals and give 100 percent effort to achieve those goals. Motivation is a driving factor of success.

Ahold USA

Hobbies:

Current position:

Upon graduating from Northeastern I had a decision to make. That decision was to either start working for the family business or take a job at an outside company for a few years. I decided to get right into the business and, in my opinion, this was the best thing I could have done. I was able to learn from so many people who would have been retired by the time I got to J. Polep had I made the other choice. These people and the things I learned from them have helped shape

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Knowing when to stop. The reality is my job is 24 hours a day seven days a week. Being one of the only family-owned and -operated wholesale distributors left in our industry is a big deal. My customers know they can reach me at any time, which is one of the benefits of working with a family-owned company.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

My wife Jamie and I had our first child in July of 2016. Jackson is everything to me, so if I am not working I am spending the rest of my time with him, Jamie and our dog Oliver. If I can find an extra few hours in the day I enjoy golfing.

Tara Bonds Ponnett Years with the company: 14

VP-Assortment Strategy & Merchandising Support

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BS-Mechanical Engineering, Penn State University; MBA, St. Francis University; executive sponsor for Women Adding Value (WAV) at Ahold USA; member, NEW; volunteer, Pennsylvania Food Bank, Ronald McDonald House.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

I am proud of my impact on the AUSA negotiation process and success, having

page_22-24-26-28-29-30-32-33-34-36-37-38.indd 33

I was promoted to director of category management in my late 20s. I started in the industry part-time in an entry-level position right out of school. I am the youngest in my company to earn the title, and it is an accomplishment I’m very proud of. Also, it is very important for me to give back to the organizations and community that have helped me. Creating a work/life balance is a priority and one that I want to teach my children about. I like that they know I work hard, volunteer and will be there for them when it counts.

Do you have a defining moment in your career?

Everything clicked for me when I attended my first sales presentation and saw how data can be used to tell a story. I love being given an objective and piecing led the development of the original platform used as the foundation of recent synergy negotiations. I also had the pleasure of leading several large negotiations, delivering mutually beneficial plans that exceeded targets many in the industry thought impossible to achieve.

Do you have a defining moment in your career?

Defining moments in my career have come at personal and professional crossroads. The first was when my father passed from cancer. I learned so much about my personal level of strength and who I wanted to be as a leader from him. My style continued to evolve after the birth of my sons as I worked to integrate my personal and professional life meaningfully. As a result of these moments, driving engagement and development have become priorities instead of only goals and achievements...I hope the changes I made impacted the way my team members will lead, how they see their potential and their confidence in the choices they make.

together a fact-based presentation to align with my team’s goals. I enjoy being a data detective.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The management of data is very fluid. Once you’ve mastered a platform, there is a new one to take its place. It’s very challenging, but I like the pace; it keeps me on my toes!

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

I attribute much of my success to paying attention to detail and following through. I stress to those starting out that communication is key. Promptly answer emails, pick up the phone, and return calls. Do what you say you’re going to do and you will be successful!

Hobbies:

I love to travel with my husband and three kids: Jason (14), Stella (7) and Logan (3). I also love to read and scrapbook photos of my children and our family vacations.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part of my job is the most invigorating. Leading the team that helps drive innovation and strategic initiatives from merchandising and operations brings tremendous complexity and responsibility. We are entrusted with driving the business forward through negotiations, item management, analytics, planograms and floorplan design. It’s game-changing when done with precision and passion, and incredibly rewarding when brought to life, inspiring consumers in our stores.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

Find something that you are passionate about...being passionate will give you the courage to reach for what you want, and the confidence to be successful in those roles, personal or professional.

Hobbies:

I spend my free time playing with my three boys, who keep my husband and I very busy. We are also visiting all of the MLB baseball stadiums, and the boys collect balls from each one.

8/23/17 2:15 PM


34   The Griffin Report of the Northeast  •  September 2017

More Coverage griffinreport.com

@

Food Industry Rising Leaders What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

Jillian Rebello Chex Finer Foods

Years with the company: 4.5

Current position:

Marketing Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BS-Communications (minor in Spanish), Indiana University.

Tom Richards

Imperial Distributors Years with the company: 10

Current position: Sales Supervisor

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BS-Business Management; volunteer, Rodman Ride for Kids and School on Wheels.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

I’m probably most proud of the relationships I have built in such a small time in my new position. I really enjoy that aspect of my work. There are so many different accounts/customers and along with those come so many different personalities and needs. I feel like I do a good job of understanding what each individual customer needs and I do my best to get it done with their specifica-

This past year, I was awarded my company’s “Delivering Excellence Award.” Being recognized by the president and executive team for my contributions to the company is something I am extremely proud of.

Do you have a defining moment in your career?

In 2015, I led a complete rebranding of a product line including 40 SKUs in 12 different categories. Seeing the products I designed come to life is truly rewarding!

lenging part of your job?

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

I’m not sure that I have a defining moment to my career just yet. I just recently received a promotion to the position I am currently in, so I guess I would point to that as the defining moment in my career at this point. There is still so much more I want to accomplish that if I’m answering truthfully I would say that my defining moment is yet to come.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Treating each account as if they are are biggest and most important customer. Imperial genuinely looks at each of our customers as a priority regardless of size, volume or location. That can be challenging at times because when a customer

page_22-24-26-28-29-30-32-33-34-36-37-38.indd 34

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

Any advice for up-andcoming professionals?

Be a sponge! Ask a lot of questions and try to understand the business from all points of view. Learning how different aspects of the company work will allow you to make better decisions in your job.

Hobbies:

Spending time with family and friends (and my dog Max), traveling and interior decorating.

Laura Reber Weis Markets

Years with the company: 7

Current position:

Advertising Production Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BS-Business Administration (marketing emphasis, advertising minor)

What is the most chal-

tions in mind. A big part of what we do is dependent on building solid relationships with all of our customers, and I feel that that is something I do very well. I’m proud of the fact that all of the customers I deal with directly feel as if they can come to me with anything and have the confidence that I will get it done for them quickly and efficiently.

in my career.

Balance! No two days are the same for me, and often I am working on a multitude of products with competing deadlines. Staying organized and going with the flow is key in my job.

has a request or needs assistance in any way, as a company we make it our priority to assist them in a timely manner. With so many accounts/customers, it can be tough to respond quickly to each and every one of then. Luckily, we also have the type of company that is not afraid to utilize other departments or resources to get things done as a team.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

Don’t be afraid to ask the “stupid” question. When I first started I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers or seem as if I couldn’t handle anything and everything that was thrown at me. But as time went on I realized the more you ask, the more you learn. I would attempt to do things on my own and they would wind up taking me two hours for something that could have taken 45 minutes. So don’t just ask the question, learn from it as well.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

I am extremely proud of the work I did to spearhead the launch of the Weis Gold Card program early in my career. This project was a challenging yet rewarding experience. The Gold Card program caters to Weis’ best, top-of-the-line customers by rewarding them for their loyalty and purchase behavior. To this day, Weis still utilizes the Gold Card program to assist in the maintenance and growth of the core customer business. Needless to say, the launch of this program has provided me with many valuable lessons, which has helped me to move forward

There have been many moments in my career that have provided me with valuable learning experiences. All of these have helped to mold and shape my career path. If I had to pick just one defining moment, it was when I decided to apply for a position in the advertising department. Weis had just created a brand-new position to oversee the distribution of our weekly circulars. I figured with my analytical background that this position might be a great fit for me. I saw this as an opportunity of growth for myself. I was hired for the position and since that time, I have grown within the role and, in addition to overseeing print buy, I am also responsible for managing advertising media, which entails TV, radio and outdoor campaigns. I was able to grow the position into a career that I am truly passionate about, dealing with both the analytical and creative sides of the business.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Since I deal with many different facets of the business, I feel that the most challenging part of my job is keeping all of the plates spinning. It can get very tedious ensuring that all deadlines are being met while continuing to explore

new and innovative ways to reach our customers. It is also essential for me to see that all of our Weis stores are properly supported with appropriate promotional materials. As with all businesses, Weis is continuously changing and growing. In order to deal with everyday business needs, there are times where I need to wear different hats and push myself outside of my comfort zone, but I feel this has made me stronger both personally and professionally.

Advice for up-andcoming professionals?

Be your own advocate for your career and personal goals. There is no one that will care as much about your long- and short-term goals as you will. Set realistic goals, hit them, and then set more. Never stop learning and take time to go outside of your comfort zone. There is so much you can achieve as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort for your own self-growth. However, don’t disregard the relationships you will make along the way. These are so relevant to your future. Take the time to get to know people and learn from them. There are opportunities everywhere.

Hobbies?

Outside of work I have an amazing husband and beautiful four-year-old daughter. Aside from spending time with family, I enjoy gardening, music and cooking.

Hobbies:

I still play basketball and baseball two or three days a week. I used to play a lot more but I had twins a year ago so now I play a few days a week and then I spend a lot of time with my family. They are walking now and every day is an adventure with them. So most of the time I am out and about with the kids and my wife.

8/23/17 2:15 PM


page_35.indd 1

8/22/17 8:10 AM


36   The Griffin Report of the Northeast  •  September 2017

More Coverage griffinreport.com

@

Food Industry Rising Leaders

Cara Sangermano Stop & Shop

Years with the company 14

Current position:

District Human Resource Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

MBA-Organizational Leadership, Johnson & Wales University; BSHuman Resource Management, Rhode Island College; Executive Board, Goodwill of Rhode Island; member, Women Adding Value Business Resource

Group with Stop & Shop.

back to the company that has given so much to me.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Having the opportunity to be a leader at my company at such a young age, as well as getting to work alongside some of the greatest business leaders at Stop & Shop as their human resource partner.

Do you have a defining moment in your career?

When my career interest shifted from store operations to being a human resource professional, I wasn’t confident in my ability to make the transition. It was a defining moment in my career when S&S asked me to serve as a district human resource manager, thereby giving me an opportunity and investing in me to develop my human resource skills. Human resources has become my passion, and I enjoy coming to work each day giving

Floral Category Manager

I have been incredibly fortunate to work for a company that has always encouraged the continued growth and creativity of its employees. Our mission is to seek better ways to create and deliver “World Class” service and value to our customers. With the training I received at store level to my experience as a produce and floral administrator and now floral category manager, I am so proud and so grateful for the tools and training I have been given to bring our mission to fruition.

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

Morgan Spencer

Big Y Foods Years with the company: 11

Current position:

BA, Political Science and Communications (double major); Roger Williams University; MS Society volunteer and contributor.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

This is it! To be recognized by my colleagues to be in the Griffin Report top 40 Under 40 for my contributions to the industry is a huge honor. It has been a privilege to work for and learn from a family-owned and family-oriented food company that develops

page_22-24-26-28-29-30-32-33-34-36-37-38.indd 36

The most challenging part of being a human resource manager is also the most exciting part, which is that no two days are the same. Every day I am faced with new and exciting challenges and situations. Being the HR anchor to a workforce of over 3,000 associates, all from diverse backgrounds, requires wearing multiple hats at the same time. I find myself frequently shifting focus from performance management, training and development, recruiting and hiring, labor relations, and business strategist several times throughout the day. However, most importantly, serving as an advocate for both the associates and for the company to arrive at mutually beneficial resolutions.

Hobbies:

Spending quality time with my family and friends.

Matt Simon Ahold USA

Years with the company: 3

Current position:

VP of Loyalty & Digital Marketing

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

MBA, Penn State; BSMarketing, University of Pittsburgh

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

I believe my proudest

No matter what your job is or what task you are working on, give it 100 percent. People will notice, and you and your company will thrive from your efforts.

Do you have a defining moment in your career?

Hobbies:

Leading a best-in-class loyalty and digital team at Ahold USA and helping build the way for us to become famous for a personalized digital program. The sales growth and digital engagement that the team has delivered has been truly remarkable. This ex-

I am most proud of helping our company grow and get to where we are today. Today we are 46 stores strong in the Northeast.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

perience of leading such a great team—all focused on doing what is right for the customer—makes for many defining moments. When customers give you credit for what you are doing, I believe you always remember and it defines the work you do going forward.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

their employees and celebrates company success.

Floral is very personal and customizable; everyone is looking for something new and different. We strive to represent all clienteles. By sourcing the newest varieties and staying on top of industry trends, we keep our floral departments fresh and exciting. We want our customers to pop in every visit, (so we make sure) there is always something new to discover.

achievement is still yet to come. While I am proud of the successful career I have had working on great brands across the CPG, QSR and retail industry, I am most excited about the opportunities and challenges facing us in the everchanging, ultracompetitive grocery landscape. There is never a dull moment, and I truly believe we are building something special in the Ahold businesses that everyone can be proud of.

Daniel Suriel America’s Food Basket Co-op

Years with the company: 8

Current position: COO

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BS-Early Childhood Special Education; AA-Liberal Arts and Education.

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

I do not have a specific defining moment. Every day our goal is to bring the most value and support that we can to our stores and our members. We work with our store associates and our trade partners on a day-to-day basis to allow us to offer customers the best quality, services, products and varieties that is available in the market.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Balancing the needs of the customer and business while always trying to stay a step ahead of the competition. You can’t really take any days off in this business; the customer is always there, so you have to be as well. Spending as much time with my family as possible. I have three kids—8, 6 and 3—and I enjoy more than anything spending time with them doing all sorts of activities. Doesn’t matter if it’s playing baseball or playing Barbie, it is what I love more than anything.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I look at challenges as opportunities. When we think of challenges as obstacles then we are limiting ourselves. We encounter opportunities every day. The way we manage these opportunities determines our fate.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

My advice is to be dedicated and own and love what you do.

Hobbies:

When I am not working I am spending time with my family. My favorite sport is baseball; I am a New York Mets fan.

Hobbies:

Traveling, cooking and spending time with friends and family.

8/23/17 2:16 PM

@


Coverage @ More griffinreport.com

September 2017  •  The Griffin Report of the Northeast   37

Food Industry Rising Leaders helped each other succeed in this business.

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

Thomas Tomaselli

Price Chopper Supermarkets/ Market 32 Years with the company: 25

Current position:

VP of Center Store (Grocery, GM & HBC)

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BS-Marketing, Siena College; division director and head coach, Clifton Park Baseball.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

I am extremely proud to have started my working career as a bagger 25 years ago with Price Chopper, and advanced my career to VP, all while staying with the same great company! Additionally, I am proud of the support from my peers and colleagues throughout my career as we have

While moving up through category management, my defining moment was taking on the responsibility of the DSD desk. It’s very exciting to work with the biggest brands in the industry like Pepsi, Coke, Polar, Frito-Lay, Nabisco, Keebler, Freihofer and so many more. While DSD was very exciting, it was also the most challenging business to manage. Through the duration of my time on this desk, I learned many important business lessons and leadership skills that truly helped me grow as a professional. Looking back on my career, this was one of the biggest building blocks that helped me get to where I am today.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

It’s a fast-paced business that is constantly evolving. It’s always a thrill to see what new product is coming out and how quickly trends change. Not only do the products change, but so do the people, and as a retailer we must adapt to the changing customer base, i.e., Boomers, Gen X and Millennials. The pace

of change in our industry is amazing, and we must continue to embrace change within ourselves and across our team. Change is the most challenging part of the job, but it also keeps things exciting!

BA-English, UMASS Boston; YMCA of Greater Boston

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

Advice for up-andcoming professionals?

The supermarket business is built on core fundamental business functions, and there are critically important functions to learn from each position along the way: bagger, stock clerk, manager and so on... I recommend that upcoming professionals understand the business from the ground up. Additionally, I have had the privilege to learn from many great leaders within the company and throughout the industry. I have always studied the best characteristics each of them possessed and try to both incorporate them into my approach to the business and in my efforts towards leading the team.

Colleen Toomey

The Greater Boston Food Bank Years with the company: 2

Current position:

Product Donation Assistant Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

Hobbies:

Whether it’s a planned vacation or a simple picnic I enjoy family time with my wife, Liz, son, Michael, and daughter, Olivia. I am a big fan of baseball and enjoy coaching my son’s Little League baseball team, as well as rooting for the New York Yankees.

Shannon Winn C&S Wholesale Grocers

Years with the company: 15

Current position:

VP of Human Resources

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BA-Anthropology, Dartmouth College; past board member, Sophia’s Hearth Family Center; current board member, MoCo Arts

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

In recent years, C&S has

page_22-24-26-28-29-30-32-33-34-36-37-38.indd 37

The significant increase in rescued food in our retail donation program at The Greater Boston Food Bank. We have worked diligently with our agencies and local partners to increase our food rescue from retailers to 4 million pounds this year in eastern Massachusetts.

Do you have a defining moment in your career?

strong mission to help the community motivated me to work harder and led me to find satisfaction in my work every day.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Finding a place for the many food donations we are offered. We come across a lot of challenging donations but we explore every option for utilizing the product to help find a place for it and to help reduce food waste.

Advice for up-andcoming professionals?

Stay focused on your goals but be flexible on your path to achieving them.

Hobbies:

Returning to the nonprofit world. I came to The Greater Boston Food Bank after working in an office. Coming back to a place with a

Reading, traveling swimming.

grown significantly, and our internal talent processes were no longer able to deliver the talent needed. In the summer of 2016, we launched a companywide, cross-functional talent planning process that not only helped the business but also the individual employees. I was an integral part of the design and execution of this process for three major functions and have positioned the organization to make better decisions and to be proactive around talent needs.

impact the bottom line of the organization from my position within HR. This has fundamentally changed my career aspirations.

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

Advice for up-andcoming professionals?

I left C&S in 2014 to stay at home, but found I couldn’t stay away and was consulting within a few months. In 2015, Asad Husain came in as the new CHRO and asked me to rejoin the organization in a high-impact position. After two years in the role, I now believe I can substantially contribute and positively

and

What is the most challenging part of your job?

C&S is nearly 100 years old with a definitive culture that has contributed to its success. I see additional opportunity to positively impact the culture while leveraging our existing strengths. My challenge is how to convince the business to change by articulating the case for change and what we stand to gain as we continue to grow and meet the needs of a changing workforce.

Seek impact, not titles and compensation; those will come!

Hobbies:

Enjoying New Hampshire with our young family.

8/23/17 2:16 PM


38   The Griffin Report of the Northeast • SEPTEMBER 2017

More Coverage griffinreport.com

@

FOOD INDUSTRY RISING LEADERS

Eldar Zulic

PepsiCo, NAB (North America Beverages) Years with the company: 13

Current position:

Key Account Manager

Education/professional/ volunteer affiliations:

BS-Business Management (minor in Economics), Kean University; executive MBA candidate, Montclair State University, 2018; active participant in the New Jersey Food Council; U15 boys soccer coach; therapy dog team handler with The Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs Inc.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements?

I am very proud of the many diverse roles I have

cess.

held with PepsiCo. Each title provided unique challenges and opportunities to learn and grow as a professional. The skill sets that I have developed within each role’s functions has enriched my ability to welcome increased responsibilities with suc-

Do you have a defining moment of your career?

I have been privileged to work for a large global organization and for leaders who create leaders, such as my current manager. The pinnacles of my career have been the moments I have been able to discuss business and share ideas with many senior leaders, including PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

As a key account manager, there are many complexities within my accounts as it relates to the bottling organizations that supply our extensive beverage portfolio. Balancing the capabilities of the entire system to ensure we are partnering effectively with our cus-

tomers can be difficult at times but an important aspect of my job. Finding solutions to ensure customer growth and that internal targets are met and exceeded are top priorities.

Advice for up-and-coming professionals?

Technology is evolving rapidly, enabling increased teamwork, collaboration and communication. However, face-to-face communication should not be neglected. As you progress and grow as a professional it is vital to model the way, create a shared vision and never fear to challenge the status quo. With an extensive workload and hectic schedule, it is important to prioritize your day and make time for yourself and family.

Hobbies:

I enjoy relaxing at home with my wife and our two dogs, going for hikes, attending sporting events, and we share a love for travel. I actively play soccer, and I have done so since I was a child. Currently, I participate in a competitive men’s league and recreational teams. Fun fact...I was captain of both my high school and college soccer teams, and I received All-State and All-America awards, respectively.

Let’s Recycle More Plastic Bags and Wraps by Wayne Pesce President Connecticut Food Association

It’s time to recycle more plastics. We’re doing a pretty good job here in Connecticut, but we can do better. In particular, there’s one area with lots of room for improvement: recycling plastic bags and wraps. In 2015 more than a billion pounds of plastic bags and wraps were recycled in the U.S.; the national recycling rate is approximately 15 percent. Although this amount of recycled plastics represents the equivalent positive impact of taking 111,000 cars off the road, it also means a lot of these plastics are not being recycled. For some time now, many grocery and retail stores have accepted plastic bags and wraps for recycling in storefront bins. We typically see these bins at major grocery chains and big-box stores. But a recent survey of Connecticut residents found that only about half of us are aware that “certain plastic items should be taken to grocery or retail stores to ensure proper recycling.” That means that about half of us are not aware of this. The survey found that even among those of us who are aware of this, we’re not really clear on precisely which plastics should be taken to stores. Unfortunately, this results in too many of us putting plastic bags and wraps in curbside recycling bins, where they do not belong. Or throwing out perfectly recyclable, valuable materials. We want to change that and do a better job recycling plastics here in Connecticut. A new campaign is under way this year to encourage state residents and businesses to increase recycling of plastic bags and wraps. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is a partner, joined by the Connecticut Food Association, Municipal Champions and food stores Price Chopper, Adam’s Hometown Markets and ShopRite. The campaign is part of Connecticut’s WRAP (Wrap Recycling Action Program), a partnership

that includes government, businesses and recycling advocates. The goals of the campaign are simple: increase the amount of plastic bags and wraps being returned to retailers for recycling, reduce unwanted bags and wraps in curbside bins, and help reduce litter. So what precisely do participating retailers accept for recycling in their storefront bins? Plastic bags such as grocery bags, newspaper bags, produce bags, bread bags, dry cleaning bags and even zipper bags. They also accept plastic wraps from water bottle cases, diapers, bathroom tissue, paper towels and more, plus bubble wrap and shipping pillows. You can go to plasticfilmrecycling.org to learn more about where and what to recycle. The plastic bags and wraps must be clean and dry when placed in storefront recycling bins. They get recycled into products such as new grocery bags, benches and decking. As noted above, in addition to removing these valuable materials from our garbage and creating new products, this campaign helps remind us that plastic bags and wraps do not belong in our curbside recycling bins. Putting the wrong plastics in curbside bins makes recycling more difficult, time-consuming and expensive, which winds up costing all of us more money. So please spread the message, pitch in and recycle plastic bags and wraps by taking them back to participating retail stores. It’s time to recycle more plastics. •••

In other CFA news, please join us the evening of Nov. 2 at the Mohegan Sun Ballroom when we honor Elizabeth Chace-Marino from Stop & Shop as CFA’s Person of the Year.

NJFC Set to Graduate 2017 Leadership Class and Accept Applications for New Group by Linda Doherty President New Jersey Food Council

They came from all areas of the food industry, eager to learn more about the dynamics and trends in government and how it all directly affects the business. They were nominated by their company executives, who view them as up-andcomers, and demonstrate great promise and hope as futures leaders. Soon they will be the next NJFC graduating Leadership Development class. Our Leadership program combines elements of mentoring, association issues management, leadership training, policy trends and guided experiences. The yearlong program features meetings, career discussions and the sharing of leadership philosophies with national food trade group representatives, members of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation, food industry CEOs and even New Jersey Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. NJFC member companies have the ability to nominate potential candidates for participation in the program, which was launched in 2014. NJFC’s Leadership Development Team then selects those persons who have demonstrated a commitment to the New Jersey Food Council and who have great potential for growth and advancement in the food distribution business. Professionally, I find it very rewarding to work with our industry’s class of rising stars with our goals to educate these future leaders on public policy areas that impact their business and the food industry’s bottom line. Courses focused on trends in food industry leadership, the need to become politically active to support the industry, opportunities for advocacy in Washington and Trenton with consistent messaging, and dealing with ever-changing regulation. In the past, we were fortunate to have key policy leaders from the Governor’s Office, legislative leaders, the departments of Agriculture and Labor and the Office of Weights and Measure to work with this group and explain the inner workings of state government, policy decisions and the importance of advocacy. The training and mentoring received throughout this leadership program not only will help advance their careers, but also ensure the food industry continues to flourish for years to come. Past graduates have gone on to spearhead the program, including Todd Ferrera of Wegmans Food Markets, serving as chair, and Howie Kent of Krasdale Foods serving as vice chair. Other graduates have joined the NJFC board, including Andrew Kent of Glass Gardens. Another graduate, James Haslett of Bimbo Bakeries, leads our new E-commerce Task Force.

page_22-24-26-28-29-30-32-33-34-36-37-38.indd 38

The rewards of participation are paying off in dividends for the future of NJFC. The latest graduating leadership development class includes the following: • David Benavente, Acme Markets. Benavente is a business-driven professional for Acme Markets and is now a store director. He has been in the retail industry for 15 years, holding various positions such as front-end manager, assistant store manager and general store manager. • Jaime Colling-Bello, Wegmans Food Markets. Colling-Bello recently was promoted to store manager for Wegmans in Ocean Township. Over the course of her 20 years with Wegmans, she also has held the positions of training and development manager, service area manager, employee representative, bakery manager, bakery management trainee, night manager and team leader in catering. • Jonathan D’Orsi, ShopRite of Carteret. D’Orsi has been a leading COO for investment banks, broker dealers and hedge funds during his 20 years of employment. Last year, D’Orsi left the financial services industry to take a leading role in his family’s business as VP of operations. • Whitley Harbold, Wawa. Harbold started working at Wawa in its government relations and sustainability department as an intern while completing her master’s degree in 2013. She is involved in Wawa’s Young Professionals Network, the Women’s Network Group and volunteers with Junior Achievement through Wawa. • Lawrence Inserra III, Inserra Supermarkets. At 14 years old, Inserra started working part-time in the family business, Inserra Supermarkets. After college, he spent two years learning from journeymen meat cutters as an apprentice, following in the footsteps of his ancestors. He opened the PriceRite in Garfield in 2014 and is looking forward to opening a second store, in Paterson, this year. • Lissa Rosendale, Acme Markets. Rosendale, who began her career with Acme in 2001, last summer assisted in the hiring of more than 2,000 new associates at the New Jersey shore locations for the summer season. She travels to Bulgaria and Romania to recruit international students. • Anthony Tomanelli, Advantage Solutions. Tomanelli began his career in the food industry in 2006 when he joined Advantage as a retail sales merchandiser. He was promoted to sales team leader for Wakefern Food Corp.’s Grocery Division, handling a portfolio of Advantage clients. Tomanelli is an avid supporter of young talent development at his company. • Vincent Williams, Bimbo Bakeries. Williams joined Bimbo Bakeries in 2011 in its sales leadership program after working as an account manager at Coc-Cola. In his current role, he calls on the members of Wakefern as a key account executive.

8/23/17 3:35 PM

40 Under 40 2017  

40 Under 40 2017

40 Under 40 2017  

40 Under 40 2017

Advertisement