Progressive Grocer - June 2018 - 44

■ SARASIN: My mom's "be nice" admonitions contained overtones of my father's strong advice to never
burn any bridges. I would say my experience has borne
out the grounded wisdom of their guidance. You honestly
never know how the chance meeting in one place and
the relationship maintained here will turn out to be a
key connection in your life. This means you must nurture
your contacts and nourish the connections you make.
TAKE FROM THE TOP: Mentoring - both formal
and informal - comes from many different sources if
you are open to them. Rather than finding mentors who
"look like you," find mentors who can help you navigate
the right opportunities.

What traditional and nontradiPG
tional education is most valuable for women to prepare themselves
for success in the grocery industry?

■ SANDER: Traditional education is certainly valuable.
However there is no substitute for core values and experiences, and for me, the most valuable lessons came from
my home environment.
■ LAING: Constant learning is an asset to any career
and certainly to success. As far as traditional education,
areas like hospitality, merchandising, marketing and
business management are good areas of study. Human
resources and educational tracks also lead to great careers in the retail industry.
■ REED: Formal education plays a part, but real life
experiences have had a greater impact on my success
than my formal education. I just went through a Harvard
Executive Leadership Program, which Kellogg sponsors
and which included a global team, which was unusual for
me. Throughout the nine-month program, we had a mix
of case studies and online sessions with professors, but
the balance was working on a project that was solving
a business challenge the Kellogg Company has. The
connectivity of our hands-on work was better because
it's real life.
■ SOMMER: Learning to be assertive, without being
offensive, as a woman is a challenge in an industry that
has historically been dominated by male leadership. It is
important to get along, negotiate and mediate well, and
to be strong but reasonable.
■ MORRIS: SO MUCH education is available via
things like Massive Open Online Courses that are free

or very low cost and help women get a foundation in
helpful subjects like creative problem solving and critical
thinking. Regardless if you pursue traditional paths or
nontraditional education, the most important thing is to
pursue your passion.
TAKE FROM THE TOP: Formal education is important, but it's more important to understand what skills and
experiences can deliver and seek to obtain them.

How can industry support
PG
access to education and
experiences for emerging leaders?
■ SARASIN: Professional societies offer opportunities
for like-minded individuals to connect on the strategies
and tactics that can help each other grow. I also wouldn't
discount getting involved in community groups or local
politics since it's rewarding to meet individuals as you
collectively give back to society.
■ SOMMER: Conduct workshops to help build confidence skills, and make them interactive sessions rather
than traditional lecture-style classes or workshops.
■ SANDER: CPGs, retailers and industry organizations
can provide jobs, shadowing experiences, and valuable
training to gain exposure for students who are working
their way through school.
■ MORRIS: We should be flexible in how we view a
person's path through an organization. In a sense, job
titles become less important than the experience a role
can provide.
■ LAING: It's important to have both internal and external programs that encourage developmental learning
and to work with educational institutions. Examples of
internal programs might be tuition reimbursement, sabbatical offerings, employee development curriculums
and flexible scheduling. Examples of external programs
might be internships, co-ops and scholarships.
TAKE FROM THE TOP: Companies can audit their
own knowledge gaps and make recommendations to
individuals on different courses or support networks as
a way to close gaps and encourage emerging leaders to
understand the total business.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Progressive Grocer - June 2018

Contents
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