Q. How has your career evolved over the years?
A. I started in the retail grocery industry in 1987 as a pastry chef in bakery. I had the opportunity to go to the service deli side of the business. I ended up working in a variety of management roles in deli, then went into bakery/deli combo management. I moved on to leadership within the organization, specializing primarily in bakery for three years, before going back to deli for about a month. I was promoted to assistant sales manager, deli prepared food for Albertsons in its corporate office for two years. Supervalu acquired Albertsons stores, and I was quickly promoted to regional service deli sales manager. We were then charged with being part of its centralization team, and I had the great fortune of interacting with all banners. This gave visibility from a fresh standpoint, as the go to market strategies were similar and yet unique. I eventually came back to the company’s Southern California division and worked in special projects events for a year, before I was offered a position as meat operations manager. I did that for two years, then managed special projects on fresh. For a short time after this, I went on a new journey working with an independent broker and leveraging relationships with different Supervalu retailers. I thought this was where I was meant to be, but my heart has always been in specialty premium deli prepared foods. I received a call from a former colleague at Albertsons sharing with me that Albertsons Co. was looking for someone to run its service deli prepared foods for Pavilions, a part of Safeway that the Albertsons Co. had acquired. I joined the Pavilions/Albertsons team in 2016 as sales manager for Pavilions’ deli prepared specialty food. We manage 26 Pavilions stores independently of the entire division, which includes 320 Albertsons and Vons stores. We have a separate team that manages Pavilions’ brand alone. We have worked very hard rebranding Pavilions as a premium format separate from Vons and Albertsons.
Q. What positions have you held in industry associations?
A. I’m part of IDDBA’s Show & Sell and have been for four consecutive years. I’m also on the Board of Directors for the Dairy, Deli, Bakery Council of Southern California.
Q. What is the best advice you ever received and why?
A. The best advice I received is be who you are. I’m very passionate about what I’m doing. If there is something that isn’t right, don’t be afraid to do something different, otherwise you’ll only keep getting the same results. By doing so, you won’t be an influencer of change. The industry is changing rapidly because people are willing to take a chance.
Q. How do you balance your work and personal life?
A. My husband also is in the industry on the wine side, so it works out. We both have a love of food. I’m also a certified sommelier. And our family life revolves around food and wine.
Q. What deli retail trends have impacted the industry most over the last year?
A. There’s a big play, and it’s on target, with specialty premium prepared foods. People are looking for an experience, not just specialty cheese being offered, but someone at the store level who specializes in that area. I develop programs that involve certifying cheese specialists, ongoing cheese training and pairings. This takes their experience to a different level. Cheese specialists are knowledgeable about what they’re offering and creating an experience. Prepared food options, hot bars and convenience continue to grow. Traditional service delis are not used to managing hot bars and recipes, as that’s on a whole different level. We need to develop a higher level of expertise, so we need the right lead in the kitchen who cares about quality and managing it properly.