WFIM’s Annual Leadership Academy: Meet our Leaders!

Leadership_Compass

Women in Food Industry Management (WFIM) presents:

Leadership Academy Round Table

November 3, 2015 from 6:30 to 9:00 am

Toronto International Centre, 6900 Airport Road

WFIM Members $55 + HST / Non-members $70 + HST (includes breakfast)

Join us for breakfast and three inspiring round table sessions.  Get up close and personal while you learn from and network with accomplished food industry executives!  Select a leader for each round table session:  7:30, 8:00, and 8:30 am.

REGISTER

Meet this year’s Academy Leaders:

Dana McCauley – Executive Director, Food Starter

Dana McCauley is the Executive Director for Food Starter, a new food business incubator and accelerator, located in Toronto.  Dana is a seasoned marketing executive with extensive experience in all facets of the food business and a track record of taking ideas from concept to kitchen to commercialization.  Dana held the position of Vice President of Marketing for Plats du Chef, an internationally successful frozen foods company, until January 2015.  She was also an on-air judge for seasons one and two of Canadian reality TV show Recipe to Riches and continues to contribute frequently as an expert food trend and innovation source for the media.  Dan’s most recent media project is YouTube channel Food Trends TV where she shares industry insights in a video format.  Dana has authored four cookbooks, all published by top tier publishers, which have sold over 200,000 copies worldwide.

Mary Dalimonte – VP Merchandising, Sobeys Inc.

Mary Dalimonte joined Sobeys in February 2008 as the General Manager of Sobeys Urban Fresh.  With over 35+ years experience in the grocery retail industry, Ms. Dalimonte was responsible for stewarding Sobeys Urban Fresh operations, merchandising and marketing teams and fostering Sobeys Urban Fresh key external relationships.  In 2011 she was appointed to Vice President of Private Label and in November of 2012, promoted to Senior Vice President of Merchandising and Commercial Programs for Sobeys Inc., leading the strategic plans and driving the development and execution of customer driven, market leading innovations for Full Service Formats across Canada.

With a bachelor of arts in sociology from York University, Ms. Dalimonte began her career in the grocery retail industry with Loblaws Supermarkets Ltd.

Ms. Dalimonte was recently recognized and awarded ‘Top Women in Grocery’ in North America.

Winnie Chiu – Director, Food Innovation & Research Studio

Winnie Chiu, Director of the Food innovation and Research Studio (FIRSt) at George Brown College in Toronto, is a food scientist and brings with her over 22 years of food product development and commercialization experience in both consumer packaged foods and the flavor ingredient business.

Since joining George Brown College, Winnie has led over 30 applied research projects and successfully helped food companies and healthcare sector partners develop and commercialize food products and recipes, while providing culinary students real life, real time experience in innovative learning.

Prior to George Brown, Winnie worked for Effem Inc. (a division of MARS Inc.) as product development manager. She led a team of scientists and technologists to develop products for North America and Australia for Uncle Ben’s®, Seeds of Change® and Masterfoodservice® brands. She also held various product development roles with two globally renowned flavour ingredient companies.

Winnie received a B.Sc. (Hon) from the University of Westminster, U.K. and subsequently gained her M.Sc. in Food and Management Science from King’s College, the University Of London, U.K.

Helen Langford – VP Foodservices, Boston Pizza

As the Senior Vice President of Foodservices for Boston Pizza, Helen Langford is responsible for leading the culinary and menu development, purchasing, supply chain and restaurant design. Prior to joining Boston Pizza, she held various roles within the foodservice industry in quality assurance, product development and supply chain. She has a passion for inspirational leadership and is an advocate for women leaders in this industry. She firmly believes in the power of people, the strength of teamwork and that hard work and perseverance are the enablers to meet any goal, no matter how difficult.

Christine Raptopulos, Senior Director Supply Chain Canada, Conagra

Christine Raptopulos joined ConAgra Foods in 2008 and has progressively transformed supply chain performance. In her current role, she leads Supply Chain functions in Canada including Logistics, Demand and Supply Planning and Customer Supply Chain.

ConAgra Foods is one of North America’s largest packaged food companies. Its balanced portfolio includes consumer brands found in 99 percent of American households. It is also the largest private brand packaged food business in North America and has a strong commercial and foodservice business.

Prior to joining ConAgra, Christine spent 14 years at Nestle SA working both locally and internationally as the Global Business Excellence Leader for Zone Americas (United States of America, Canada, Latin America, Caribbean) focused on Supply Chain optimization and best practice implementations.

Christine holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Lakehead University.

Jill Baxter, Co-Founder / VP / VP Operations, N2 Ingredients Inc.

Jill is co-founder and Vice President of N2 Ingredients Inc., based in Mississauga, ON. N2 is a dynamic company that was founded in 2004. N2 are leaders in the importation and supply of organic and all natural ingredients to the Canadian food processing industry. Jill plays a hands-on role in managing the day-to-day operations of the organization by aligning and executing operational and strategic plans, while working with all members of the team. Evaluating systems, processes and recommendations for continuous improvements for the organization are her areas of responsibility.

N2 Ingredients has come a long way since inception, being named as one of Canada’s fastest growing companies on four separate occasions.

Kim Vogel, President, Spyder Works Inc.

Kim Vogel is an established leader of business strategy and corporate culture development. With more than 20 years of strategic management experience in HR and Operations including seven years at the executive level, Kim has excelled in both consulting and corporate capacities. Her credentials include maximizing organizational performance, driving cultural change and generating transformational results with national retail brands such as Tim Hortons, Winners, Grand & Toy, Sobeys and The Bargain! Shop. Through business strategy and corporate culture development, Kim shows companies how to transform themselves into cohesive, high performance cultures.

Kim has a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University and an HR Management degree from Humber College.

Angela Zaltsman, Owner, A to Z Event Management Inc.

Inspired by a lifetime of experience in the hospitality and event management industry, Angela Zaltsman is the driving force behind A to Z’s delivery of Extraordinary events from start to finish.

Angela has worked in a range of management roles at upscale restaurants, conference facilities and luxury hotels. She has planned and executed corporate events for some of North America’s most influential companies: American Express, BMO, Chanel, GlaxoSmithKline and KPMG, just to name a few. In addition to achieving excellence in the corporate sector, Angela has met rave reviews with lifestyle events for celebrities including Shania Twain, Lauren Holly, Dan Ayckroyd, Kiefer Sutherland and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With more than 20 years of experience in hospitality and event management; Ms. Zaltsman calls upon a rich network of relationships with suppliers and venues to deliver, throughout the Greater Toronto Area, Extraordinary events from start to finish.

REGISTER

Advertisements

Breaking the Bounds

Rotman Commerce Women in Business

The Sixth Annual Women’s Leadership Symposium

March 6, 2015

 

I was honored, and pleasantly surprised, to be invited to participate on the Food Panel at the Sixth Annual Women’s Leadership Symposium, presented by Rotman Commerce Women in Business.  I was in great company, with other food industry leaders.  While there are many career options in the food industry, it quickly became clear that food people are friendly, food is something that brings people together, and the passion for the industry is infectious!

The 2015 Food Panel:

Nicole Karmali – Operations Manager, Oliver & Bonacini Events & Catering

Nancy Klassen – Associate Director – Human Resources, Kerr Bros. Limited; Board Chair, Women in Food Industry Management (WFIM);

Krista Payne – Director of Operations, Sobeys

Joanna Pleta – PR & Marketing Manager, Momofuku

Nadege Nourian – Chef & Owner, Nadege Bakery

Moderator:  Louisa Clements, “Living Lou” Food Blogger

Career Paths

While each leader had a different path to get to where they are, it was clear that hard work, taking hold of opportunities (and making your own!), and transferable skills were important to their success.

Nicole graduated with a B. Comm in Hospitality from the University of Guelph. She started as a bartender at Oliver & Bonacini, with plans for being promoted into management.  She found this helpful to understand the culture & the brand.  She pitched to the owners that O&B should do events.  They loved the idea & they took over the operations at the Toronto Board of Trade – with Nicole in charge!  Nicole used her 4 years of experience to build the division.  Her strategy is to hire people that can do the things you can’t do, and to work off each other’s strengths.    She states that she has fallen into the position as much as she lead the way.

Joanna also graduated with a B. Comm, in marketing & web design.  She liked food, and found herself freelancing on the side with restaurants in the city to design their websites for free.  She found that knowing the operations, she was better able to market the concept.

Krista worked in retail pharmacy then hospital pharmacy, and then was a manager at Shopper’s Drug Mart.  She was hired on at Sobey’s as Operations Manager, and hasn’t looked back since!  She moved into a talent management role to develop Department Managers, Asst Store Managers & Store Managers.  As a female in a male-dominated industry, she found that she had to have perseverance, stay focused, work with a mentor, and continually set new goals.

Nancy, also a University of Guelph grad in the B. Comm, hospitality program, started her career managing restaurants.   She loved the people side, training them, and seeing them grow, so she moved in a training role.   Wanting a change in her career, she found that she had a lot of transferable skills to move into Human Resources.   She received her HR diploma, and is now working in the food manufacturing industry, where her knowledge of food safety is an asset in her role.

Nadege’s great grandparents and grandparents had a pastry shop.   From a very young age she was working in the bakery.  She went to pastry school in France.  She knew that you have to be passionate and work long hours on your feet to be successful in the baking industry.

Daily Roles

Through the conversation, we discovered that in any position in the food industry, people, hiring, training are a key part of a leadership role.

Joanna states that it is hard to pin down daily activities as there are so many moving parts.   On a higher level, it’s about building relationships.  You need to be very entrepreneurial.  It’s what you make of it.

Nadege usually works 7 days a week, starting at 4 am.  Being in charge of the team in the kitchen, they have to make everything to be ready for the opening of the shop.  After that, the day can change: testing new recipes, checking on the different sections like cake, bread, croissants.  She is close to the kitchen team & the managers. As the owner, she also needs to sign for bills, spend time on e-mail & phone, taking care of the business end.

Nicole’s days vary depending upon the events and season.   Marketing, setting the tone of owning the events, hiring, training & development are some of her many activities.  One of her favorite roles is developing young managers coming up from serving staff.   She meets with the O&B executive team about new properties, where they talk about design, carpet, chairs, glassware, uniforms, what suppliers to use, etc.!     She is responsible for the financials, and she negotiates contracts, so she is also close with the sales team.

Every day is a little different for Krista, with communication being a big part of it.   She is responsible for the operational execution at the stores:  making sure brand standard are up to spec, i.e. meat cuts, cupcakes, etc. And she is responsible for the performance of team, in addition to financial accountability, sales, shrink, margin, & controllable expenses.  She spends a lot of time with her store managers, to make sure they understand where they are & creating development plans to strengthen their competencies in leadership and execution.   Even though Sobey’s is selling food, it’s truly a people business.

In food manufacturing, Nancy has more regular days than the others.  She attends a daily production meeting where the management team discusses what’s happening out on the floor, are the shipments on time, what’s happening with purchasing & inventory.   Then throughout the day, she has various meetings and interviews.  She is in the plant everyday to meet with the employees, because they can’t get away from their machines.  She has to be ready to handle any surprise that may come up: be it an employee issue, health & safety issue, or the MOL can walk in, and she has to drop everything to handle it.   You have to be flexible & adaptable to manage that.

Every job has its challenges.  How do you overcome them?

Nancy:  recruiting for the factory is a challenge.  People don’t understand fully what it is to be in food manufacturing.  There are so many things to think about from food safety, to health & safety, and operating a machine, the cost of ingredients, productivity.   To help the industry overcome this, Nancy has been involved with 2 groups that have government funding to get people working in food processing, so that they have more training & certification to be qualified to work in the food industry.

Krista’s challenge has been being a female in a primarily male-dominated industry.  She finds that you have to know what you’re talking about, and show that you’re here to support them.

Working with chefs can be a big challenge for Nicole, in that they have different ideas of how to run your team.  But she finds that the mentality of back-of house to front of house is closing in – more respect is happening.  Another challenge is maintaining the reputation of the company, as everyone expects that it will be a flawless experience, and you need to meet those expectations.  Communication is a challenge, making sure everyone is on the same page.

Joanna also finds that meeting expectations of customers is a challenge.  However, if you do make mistakes, you need to find ways to get over it to make the experience positive.

Despite the challenges, there are successes!

Helping to build the partnership between Sobey’s & Jamie Oliver has been a highlight for Krista over the last couple of years, having him travel to the stores & meet the people.   Second – When you have “opportunity” employees and you invest time & programs in them & you see them succeed – when they become better than us, that’s a great feeling.

Nadege finds that giving emotion to people shows her success.  She tells a story of a woman who was buying a croissant everyday for 5 days in a row, for her son who was in the hospital nearby.  The first time her son bit into the croissant, he started to smile with happiness.   Stories like that make you feel good, that what you’re doing is worthwhile.

Being elected to the Chair of WFIM is a success story for Nancy.  Volunteering in some capacity is a good thing when you have the time to do it.  WFIM is all volunteers, from marketing to writing the cheques.  Nancy finds that being a volunteer is a great experience – whether it’s in your industry or not.

Nicole – before fully launching the catering division, she won an event, and afterwards, she met with the executive team for the event, and he said that his only mistake was not selecting her the year before!

What Advice do these leaders have for students today?

Joanna – There is nothing stopping you…do what it takes to make it happen.  Work for free.  Talk to people. People are very open & willing to talk to you.

Nadege – You have to be passionate to be in the kitchen as a pastry chef.  Work hard to move up.  Maybe if the kitchen isn’t the right place, there are other opportunities, in the office, project management, social media, that you can do in the food industry.

Nicole – Find a company that aligns with your values & what you believe in.  Respect for food, and respect for the people you work with.  If the decision is right for me, then I know its right for the company.   And, work your ass off all the way.  You are your own brand.   There is always something that can go wrong, so you have to be present and be prepared to handle anything.

Krista – Mentorship – reach out.  Whether it’s your own business, marketing, operations etc.  A great place to reach out is WFIM.  Its food, we’re passionate about it. People are very willing to help out.   Find out where your passion fits within the organization.

Nancy – Transferable skills – even if you do something in a completely unrelated industry, it can be transferable into food.  Also, flexibility. Be flexible, willing & able to do whatever it takes to a get the job done, and to move your career ahead to help the company to survive & grow.

Louisa – Building relationships.   People really want to help you, want to encourage young talent.

Finally, a few questions from the students:

Has there been mentor  that helped you in your career?  Louisa formed a relationship with a mentor who helped form her career.  Krista has always had a mentor, but finds that the person will change over time with the focus of her development.   Nancy is currently mentoring 2 people in HR, and hopes what she is able to give back will help them in their careers.

Work-life balance: Nadege says you need to love what you do and be passionate about it, so that the hours don’t matter.  Krista found that early in her career she was poor at it, but now she realizes that it helps to schedule everything.    Nicole worked ridiculous hours when she was younger.  She says with experience, you get better at delegating & managing your people, your time.  You make the choices of what you want to happen in your life.  Nicole & Nancy also both agree that it is easier to balance if your partner is also in the food industry.

Is education a competitive advantage?  Nancy recruits for many  different positions, and finds that anyone that has co-op experience seems to be  more qualified than others with the same education.  As Joanna mentioned, work for free, or volunteer:  students need to gain experience to build the skills that are transferable. You need to know what skills you need.  Nicole says that her personality & drive got her where she is.  When she is hiring, she is looking for personality, because she knows that she can train the skills that are required.  Louisa suggest that you need to be able to show how you use the skills you’ve learned.  Nancy says that having an education shows that you can learn, and it definitely shows that you can complete a task!