Director of Sales – Ontario/Atlantic
How did you get into the beer business?
Funny enough, I would have never imagined myself in the beer business. When I started with Sleeman, I didn’t even drink beer. I was working for Unilever and had a job posting sent my way by a coworker. With nothing to lose, I went for the interview. That interview changed my life and I left Sleeman that day thinking that I needed to work there. The comradery, strong work ethic and amazing products are definitely a winning combination. I have had many amazing employers in my life, but Sleeman is my family—one I am proud to have been a part of now for 13 years. I’m also a proud beer drinker now, too.
My proudest moment, while a personal one, has had a great impact on my career. In 2012 I became a mom to a beautiful baby girl, Bianca. Friends and coworkers joked that mat leave was a year-long vacation and to be honest, I was terrified. I loved to work and think and be challenged. Mat leave was harder work than work has ever been. Coming back to work after a year at home was different. I came back with a new perspective as I better understood the importance of balance. I better understood how to manage the demands of home with the demands of the workplace. It has made me a better leader, empathetic, focused and, dare I say, fearless. I work really hard and strive to be the best but when things don’t go as planned or I fail, I recognize that it is not life or death and I move on. Who knew that being a mom would be the best work experience I’d ever get.
Your best quality?
I believe empathy to be my best quality, one that is often undervalued today. When you understand a person’s situation, feelings and motives, you can draw the best out of them. People tend to confuse empathy with weakness. I believe it to be the complete opposite. By tapping into what drives your people, you can increase the overall performance of your team.
Best advice ever received?
Do not be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. My father immigrated to Canada from Italy in 1965 with very little. He worked hard his entire life to provide for our family and build a successful business in the welding industry. From the time I was very young, my father pushed me to be my best, be curious and never give up. In every job I have ever had I’ve tried to go above and beyond the job description, doing more, helping more and being more. When you develop a strong work ethic and roll up your sleeves when you are young, it becomes second nature for you as an adult in the working world and in life in general.
Career highlight/greatest achievements?
A highlight of my career is the partnership we formed with Sobeys in 2017 to grow the beer and cider category in their stores. They are an incredible partner to work with and a leader in the industry. This was also the first partnership of its kind for Sleeman which was also very special.
Also, becoming a sales leader in a predominantly male industry has been a huge achievement for me. It has given me the opportunity to mentor other women in our organization who strive to do the same.
What do you like most about your job?
What I like most about this role is helping people reach their full potential. I like challenging people and helping them find their best self. I am the only member of my extended family that is not an entrepreneur, however I have that spirit in my blood. I like people to take ownership of their jobs and run with it. Having an open forum for new ideas and new ways of thinking creates a very freeing environment where everyone feels like they are being heard.
Anything else you'd like to add?
While I am very proud of what I have been able to achieve in my career thus far, I am extremely proud that Sleeman has allowed me to be a mom first. The level of balance I am able to strike here is amazing. I have two young children who need their mom in these crazy times more than ever, and I have been fortunate to be there for them while still being able to give my job my all.
Click here for the full list of 2020 Star Women in Grocery award winners.